The Sins of Scripture is a challenging work, and it is always good that our unquestioned assumptions should be challenged or nearly always. Bishop Spong is like a knight flailing wildly in all directions, hell-bent on doing maximum damage to friend and foe alike. His principal target is the belief that the Bible is the Word of God in a crudely literal sense, but with his wildly flailing spiked weapon he delivers blows to many other targets of the institutional Church. He picks up the fierce satire of Angela's Ashes on Irish Catholicism of the early 20th century, and particularly on Catholic teaching on birth control, joining to it the homophobic attitudes of many Churchmen and the ill-judged attempts by members of the hierarchy to sweep paedophilic offences under the carpet. There is no doubt that shameful mistakes were made and that shameful crimes were committed at many levels in institutional churches, but they cannot all be laid at the door of the biblical command: "Be fruitful and multiply."
In the liberty of his retirement Bishop Spong has a bash at other targets too, such as Christian anti-Semitism. Yes, it has been a scandal in the strict sense of the word, something which trips people up. The countercultural witness of the Jews brought mockery and persecution on the Jewish nation long before Christianity, but within Christianity it cannot be denied that Gospel passages were misused to justify such persecution. This phenomenon, and these passages, deserve a more thoughtful treatment than that accorded to them by Bishop Spong. Drawing blood has little value unless its purpose is to heal.
The serious question posed by the author is how violence and prayers for vengeance can have a place in God's Word. Part of the answer lies in Spong's deliberate neglect of the other element: the Bible expresses the divine word through human words and human understanding. Perhaps more important still, as every teacher knows, education is a slow process and the effective teacher teaches only at the speed which students can accommodate. Enlightenment comes gradually, and abuse of recent generations who did not perceive the evils of slavery, of capital punishment, of squandering the earth's resources is empty rhetoric. One of the treasures of scriptural study is perception of the gradual progress of divine truth in the human understanding not only during the era of biblical revelation itself but also in the gradual deepening of understanding under the guidance of the Spirit within the Church. To describe any stage of this as "the sins of scripture" is a piece of coarse, badly aimed bludgeoning which helps no one.