Scripture Unbound: A Unitarian Universalist Approach

Jonalu Johnstone

Throughout the ages, adherents of religious traditions from around the world have set apart certain writings and teachings as special, calling them scriptures, sacred texts, or classics. And they have developed particular approaches to reading these texts. In this insightful new guide, Unitarian Universalist minister Jonalu Johnstone provides an introduction to reading sacred texts, discusses Unitarian Universalist views of scripture, and suggests ways to use sacred texts within our congregations. Each chapter explores an aspect of engaging with scripture and includes a reading from a sacred text—the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian Bible, the I Ching, the Dhammapada, the Qur’an, and others, including more modern sources—and offers progressive commentary based on scholarly and spiritual approaches to these writings. Scripture Unbound explores many of these approaches, including historical-critical reading, chant, feminist interpretation, Jewish midrash, Unitarian Universalist practice, and more. It provides guidance on selecting translations, considers individual and communal spiritual practice, and reflects on some of the dangers of interpreting scriptures, including cultural misappropriation.

This engaging volume invites readers into an adventure of encountering firsthand the words and stories that have inspired billions throughout the centuries. Exploring the wisdom of the ages helps equip us to understand the world we share with a diverse and evolving collection of religious voices.


Rev. Jonalu Johnstone serves as developmental minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, Kansas. Previously, she has served at the First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City; the Channing Unitarian Universalist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma; and the James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Madison, Wisconsin. She has also served as a growth consultant in the Southwestern Conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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