Southwestern Journal of Theology

January 6, 2022

“This book is a part of a series known as Companions to the New Testament, and this one is a serious study of most of the New Testament as it pertains to sexual morality. The author holds that 21 of the books of the New Testament deal with some aspect of human sexuality (p. 183). There is a fairly systematic treatment given to all of the New Testament passages which deal with sexual issues, but there is no attempt to produce a synthesis of those teachings. Nor could it he said that there is a thorough commentary or interpretation made of all of the concerns or even of the textual issues in the passages treated.

Collins demonstrates his scholarship by weaving a narrative presentation of the New Testament teachings with those of the Old Testament and with those of ancient philosophers and other writers. The use of textual and source criticism is abundant and generally used in good taste. The author does not disparage the validity of the New Testament, but neither does he hold to a view of a thoroughly inspired text. There is considerable research to back up the interpretation of the author, with one extreme being the very first chapter which consists of 13 pages of text and 8 of footnotes.

The author holds to a rather strict moral interpretation of sexual issues in the New Testament, usually related in some way to concerns for holiness, and this includes his treatment of divorce, masturbation, and adultery. He does not recognize that adultery is not the unforgivable sin but holds that adultery is a given when a divorce occurs, even without remarriage. There was some disappointment with his treatment of the homosexuality issue because he excuses the New Testament writers for their lack of current scientific understanding on ‘sexual orientation.’ When there is almost a stringency on other sexual aberrations or immoralities, his excusing this sin so summarily seems to have some serious weaknesses.

The final chapter is a fine summary of the general teachings of the New Testament on sexuality. It could have been hoped that Collins would have been willing to venture more specific applications to some specific sexuality issues, rather than leaving those as ‘complex matters with which ethicists and churches alike must deal in the way that is appropriate to their own mission’ (p. 191).”

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