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Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God

By / Baker / 2011

Runs on Windows, Mac, and mobile.



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:

  • God is arrogant and jealous
  • God punishes people too harshly
  • God is guilty of ethnic cleansing
  • God oppresses women
  • God endorses slavery
  • Christianity causes violence

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.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Addresses comprehensively and with biblical detail the difficulties that the Old Testament presents
  • Discusses the morality of the Old Testament and its ethics
  • Reexamines incorrect paradigms of thinking about the Bible


  • Part 1: Neo-Atheism
    • Who Are the New Atheists?
    • The New Atheists and the Old Testament God
  • Part 2: God: Gracious Master or Moral Monster?
    • Great Appetite for Praise and Sacrifices? Divine Arrogance or Humility?
    • Monumental Rage and Kinglike Jealousy? Understanding the Covenant-Making God
    • Child Abuse and Bullying? God’s Ways and the Binding of Isaac
  • Part 3: Life in the Ancient Near East and in Israel
    • God’s Timeless Wisdom? Incremental Steps for Hardened Hearts
    • The Bible’s Ubiquitous Weirdness? Kosher Foods, Kooky Laws? (I)
    • The Bible’s Ubiquitous Weirdness? Kosher Foods, Kooky Laws? (II)
    • Barbarisms, Crude Laws, and Other Imaginary Crimes? Punishments and Other Harsh Realities in Perspective
    • Misogynistic? Women in Israel
    • Bride-Price? Polygamy, Concubinage, and Other Such Questions
    • Warrant for Trafficking in Humans as Farm Equipment? (I): Slavery in Israel
    • Warrant for Trafficking in Humans as Farm Equipment? (II): Challenging Texts on Slavery
    • Warrant for Trafficking in Humans as Farm Equipment? (III): Slavery in the New Testament
    • Indiscriminate Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing? The Killing of the Canaanites (I)
    • Indiscriminate Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing? The Killing of the Canaanites (II)
    • Indiscriminate Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing? The Killing of the Canaanites (III)
    • The Root of All Evil? Does Religion Cause Violence?
  • Part 4: Sharpening the Moral Focus
    • Morality without a Lawgiving God? The Divine Foundation of Goodness
    • We Have Moved beyond This God (Haven’t We?): Jesus as the Fulfiller of the Old Testament

Praise for the Print Edition

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, director, Langham Partnership International

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

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, emeritus professor of New Testament, Heritage Theological Seminary

Product Details

About Paul Copan

Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. Previously, he taught at Georgia Perimeter College, Bethel Seminary, Alliance Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several apologetics books and the president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.