Reading a borrowed book is like a bad dream to me. If I can’t underline, then the endeavor is almost worthless. It’s at best frustrating. Not that I don’t immensely appreciate the sentiment that goes behind loaning a book to a friend, I do, but reading without a pen is death. I find this same frustration listening to audiobooks. I try my best to write down page numbers and quotes when I get the chance, but I still feel like I miss out on remembering some of the content that I would otherwise be able to recall If I could underline. Libraries are of limited use to me for the same reasons. I want to write in the book. So I buy a lot of books and help stimulate the economy.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I should explain that I just finished a borrowed copy of Whoredom: God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology. And while I enjoyed the book, and found it helpful, I feel that I can’t remember all that I would like to because you can’t underline in a borrowed book. But, I’ll attempt to recall a bit for this review anyway. As a side note, I’m a little tempted to go buy a copy of the book and skim it with pen in hand. But whatever!
In Whoredom, Ortlund traces the idea of “spiritual adultery” through the Bible. The idea of God’s marriage to His people is first alluded to in the Law, developed rather extensively in the writings of the prophets, and then brought full circle in New Testament. The theme is extensive throughout the Bible and often pushes the biblical text into “R” rating territory. Think I’m lying? Go read Ezekiel 23:20 and make it your life verse. Then quote it when people ask “What’s your favorite verse in the Bible?” Watch the jaws drop. God’s point, I think, is that He treats our spiritual adultery, our idolatry, our un-love, pretty seriously. The drastic nature of the Bible’s language in this area brings us face to face with the ugliness of our sin, and points us to our need for a Savior.
This book is primarily consumed with examining the development of the “spiritual adultery” theme throughout the Old Testament. But Ortlund takes time in chapter six to show the relation between all of the Old Testament’s proclamations of spiritual adultery to the New Testament’s idea of Jesus as the Bridegroom. My favorite quote in the whole book might be:
“The gospel reveals that, as we look out into the universe, ultimate reality is not cold, dark, blank space; ultimate reality is romance. There is a God above with love in his eyes for us and infinite joy to offer us, and he has set himself upon winning our hearts for himself alone. The gospel tells the story of God’s pursuing, faithful, wounded, angry, overruling, transforming, triumphant love. And it calls us to answer him with a love which cleanses our lives of all spiritual whoredom” (173).
A Great Study Tool
I used this book mainly as a study tool and commentary on parts of the book of Hosea. Ortlund vividly portrays all the key passages that deal with the spiritual adultery theme in the Bible. These include passages in the Law, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ephesians, and Revelation among others. For being a book that I expected to be quite complex, Whoredom was rather straightforward and easy to read. I recommend it highly if you’re at all interested in studying this Biblical theme. It’s also a great read if you just want to understand the Bible better as a cohesive whole. The appendix, which deals with feminist interpretations of the Bible’s sexual language, is especially entertaining if you’d like to get a good look at absurd examples of Biblical interpretation.