Is God a Moral Monster?

Making Sense of the Old Testament God

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Is the God of the Old Testament nothing but a bully, a murderer, and an oppressor?

Many today--even within the church--seem to think so. How are Christians to respond to such accusations? And how are we to reconcile the seemingly disconnected natures of God portrayed in the two testaments?

In this timely and readable book, apologist Paul Copan takes on some of the most vexing accusations of our time, including:


Copan not only answers the critics, he also shows how to read both the Old and New Testaments faithfully, seeing an unchanging, righteous, and loving God in both.


"This is the book I wish I had written myself. It is simply the best book I have read that tackles the many difficulties that the Old Testament presents to thinking and sensitive Christians. Paul Copan writes in such a simple, straightforward way, yet covers enormous issues comprehensively and with reassuring biblical detail and scholarly research."--Christopher J. H. Wright, international director, Langham Partnership International; author of Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

"The New Atheists have attacked the morality of the Old Testament with a vengeance. In honesty, many Christians will confess that they struggle with what looks like a primitive and barbaric ethic. Paul Copan helps us truly understand the world of the Old Testament and how it relates to us today. I recommend this book for all who want to make sense of the Old Testament."--Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

"Lucid, lively, and very well informed, this book is the best defense of Old Testament ethics that I have read. A must-read for all preachers and Bible study leaders."--Gordon Wenham, tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College, Bristol

"Paul Copan is the nation's leading apologist regarding problems with the biblical text, and Is God a Moral Monster? is vintage Copan. He takes on current New Atheist biblical critics and powerfully addresses virtually every criticism they have raised. I know of no other book like this one, and it should be required reading in college and seminary courses on biblical introduction."--J. P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, and author of The God Question

"Most Christians today, myself included, are in dialogue with people we love who have been heavily swayed by the criticisms of Richard Dawkins, et al., against the morality of the Bible and its depiction of a horrific Yahweh God. What struck me in reading Is God a Moral Monster? is the degree to which we as Christians need to rethink in radical ways our reading and understanding of the sacred text if we are to have any persuasive reasoning in this ongoing exchange. Sometimes the real monster lies not so much in criticisms from 'without' as in our own holding to certain incorrect paradigms of thinking about the Bible. Aside from the apologetic importance of Professor Copan's work, of far greater value for Christians is the way in which his book forces us to reevaluate the very nature of the God we worship. Read this book. It will awaken your vision of God in wonderful ways!"--William J. Webb, professor of New Testament, Heritage Theological Seminary, and author of Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals

"The most difficult questions that can be asked about Scripture include a list of ethical challenges to several Old Testament texts and teachings. These issues have been taken up with more fervor of late, owing to the growing popularity of radical atheism and skepticism. There's virtually no scholar I'd rather read on these subjects than Paul Copan. Building on his earlier research, Paul launches here into a treatment of a detailed list of such challenges, including the so-called genocidal conquest of Canaan. This handbook of responses to these and other tough ethical issues is able to both diminish the rhetoric as well as alleviate many concerns. I recommend this volume heartily."--Gary R. Habermas, distinguished research professor, Liberty University and Seminary

"In a civil and reasoned manner, Paul Copan leads us through the wilderness of challenges to the God and the message of the Old Testament. By amassing and clearly expressing arguments with awareness of the ancient Near Eastern cultural context and of the Hebrew text of the Bible, the author presents a thorough treatment of key issues. This is essential and fascinating reading for anyone engaged in the 'New Atheism' debate."--Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary

"Paul Copan has done an outstanding job of explaining some of the most confusing and puzzling issues that emerge from the pages of the Old Testament. He engages with a myriad of serious philosophical and moral challenges to the portrayal of God in the Old Testament, and he answers these challenges adroitly with clear and easy-to-understand explanations from the biblical texts themselves. This is a very readable book, and it will be a valuable resource for all Christians who desire to understand the Old Testament in today's context. I heartily recommend it!"--J. Daniel Hays, professor of biblical studies, Ouachita Baptist University

"Paul Copan has written a most powerful and cogent defense of the character of God in the Old Testament in the face of vicious attacks by the New Atheists claiming that the Old Testament God is nothing less than a 'moral monster.' I have difficulty finding adequate superlatives to express my joy and satisfaction in the masterful accomplishments of this book. It represents a landmark study of theodicy (the justification of God) in Old Testament ethics. Copan tackles such difficult issues as the alleged misogynist view of women and the practice of slavery in the Old Testament, and he shows how God sets forth his egalitarian ideals at the very beginning (Genesis 1-2), condescends to work with Israel where he finds them in their hard-heartedness, but at the same time gives laws which are generally a great moral improvement over those found elsewhere in the ancient Near East and which call Israel steadily back toward the creation ideals. Copan provides the most comprehensive and compelling treatment I have ever seen on the problematic issue of God's command to destroy the Canaanites. This book not only grapples with specific Old Testament passages and issues but places them in the larger perspectives of God's universal blessing to all nations, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and modern issues such as Islamic jihad and the divine foundation of goodness and morality (vs. the claims of naturalism). For those who struggle with the claims of the New Atheists or have difficulty coming to grips with the picture of God in the Old Testament, this user-friendly book is an indispensible resource!"--Richard M. Davidson, chair, department of Old Testament, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

"In his latest book, Paul Copan strides boldly forward into a theological lions' den, fearlessly confronting some of the most difficult ethical issues surrounding the Christian Scriptures, and the faith built upon them. I can't think of another work that deals with these complex and sensitive issues so comprehensively, and, at the same time, in such clear and approachable language. His defense of the biblical God is learned, courageous, and convincing."--Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities, Baylor University

The Author

  1. Paul Copan

    Paul Copan

    Paul Copan (PhD, Marquette University), a Christian theologian, analytic philosopher, and apologist, is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. For 6 years, he served as president of the...

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