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Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible

, 2012
ISBN: 9780830863471
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What was clear to the original readers of Scripture is not always clear to us as modern readers. Because of the cultural distance between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text that influence how we read Scripture. Sometimes these influences lead to utterly misreading Scripture. In this highly readable book, the insights of biblical scholars Brandon O’Brien and E. Randolph Richards shed light on the ways Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible. They identify nine key areas where modern Westerners have significantly different assumptions about what is going on in a text than what the context actually suggests. Drawing on their own cross-cultural experience in global missions, the authors show how greater understanding of cultural differences in language, time, and social mores allow us to see the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways—helping us to avoid misreading Scripture.

Throughout this text, Richards and O’Brien point out numerous examples of misconceptions as they bring awareness to the distorting factors we can bring to biblical texts, causing misreading based on cross-cultural assumptions.. For example: when we as Western readers hear Paul exhorting women to “dress modestly,” our first response is to think in terms of sexual modesty; but, most women in the culture Paul was addressing would never have been wearing racy clothing—rather, the authors argue, the context actually suggests Paul is more concerned about economic modesty (that Christian women not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes, braided hair, and gold jewelry). Other examples include that readers might assume that Moses married “below himself” because his wife was a dark-skinned Cushite. However, as the authors point out, it was the Hebrews who were the slave race, not the Cushites who were highly respected. Aaron and Miriam probably thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying “above himself.”

Getting beyond our own cultural assumptions is increasingly important for Christians in our interconnected and globalized world. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes is a great place to begin learning to read Scripture as a member of the global body of Christ. And in the Logos Bible Software edition of this text, you have access to near-instant search results for words, people, places, and ideas as it will link with a wealth of other resources in your library. With the most efficient and comprehensive research tools all in one place, you can deepen your study with just a few clicks; and Logos tablet and mobile apps let you take your study wherever you go.

Resource Experts
  • Makes a great entry level text in hermeneutics or cultural studies
  • Sheds light on difficult biblical passages
  • Brings the authors’ cross-cultural mission experience to bear on biblical interpretation
Randy Richards and Brandon O’Brien have written a useful and enjoyable book, which makes excellent use of good stories to illustrate the points they make. The reader will leave the book with plenty of challenging questions to ask about approaches to Scripture. Interesting, thoughtful, and user-friendly.

—Philip Jenkins, co-director for the program on historical studies of religion, Baylor University

This is a revolutionary book for evangelical Bible-believers. If its readers end the book motivated to ask the questions it invites . . . they will be more ready to live out the kind of biblically faithful, Christ-honoring and God-fearing lives that they desire to and that the world needs.

—Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity

The authors of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes make a convincing case that those who trust in the Bible should (for biblical reasons) be more self-conscious about themselves. Their demonstration of how unself-conscious mores influence the understanding of Scripture is as helpful as the many insights they draw from Scripture itself. This is a good book for better understanding ourselves, the Christian world as it now exists, and the Bible.

—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

  • Title: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
  • Authors: E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O'Brien
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2013
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Bible › Social scientific criticism
  • ISBN: 9780830863471
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-02-12T04:40:31Z

The Logos edition of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes equips you for better study with cutting-edge functionality and features. Whether you are performing Bible word studies, preparing a sermon, or researching and writing a paper, Logos Bible Software gives you the tools you need to use your digital library effectively and efficiently by searching for verses, finding Scripture references and citations instantly. Additionally, important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, theology texts, and other resources in your library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. With most Logos resources, you can 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.

E. Randolph Richards is dean of the School of Ministry and professor of biblical studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has frequently served as an interim pastor, and from 1988 to 1996 he was a missionary with the International Mission Board, SBC, stationed in East Indonesia. His scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Southwestern Journal of Theology, Bulletin for Biblical Research, and Biblical Illustrator. He is coauthor of Discovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology and The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology. He is the author of Paul and First-Century Letter Writing and The Secretary in the Letters of Paul in the Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament series.

Brandon O’Brien received his PhD in historical theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves on the editorial board for Trinity Journal. He is the author of The Strategically Small Church, and has also written for Leadership, Christianity Today, and Relevant.


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  1. Glen Taylor

    Glen Taylor


  2. Patrick



    A really good and interesting read. While I don't agree with everything they talk about and there are times where they get a little too speculative, this book points out some excellent points to be aware of when reading Scripture. The premises is that the Bible is written not in American English but in Hebrew and Greek and that it takes places in a time, place, culture, and location that isn't present day American. As a result, what our expectations are and what we want to read into the passage maybe isn't what the passage is talking about. The book is great because it encourages an in depth, slow study of the Bible and causes you to "take a look around" when you read it. This book really knocks it out of the park. There are a few times where I wish they would have looked at things more in depth. This isn't a fully scholarly look into specifics but more of touch and go's on several broad themes such as collectivism vs. individualism, language, shame, time, etc. I wish there was a bit more focus on the Hebrew and Greek language although there is some parts of it discussed. There are also a few times where they make some assertions and, while they make the claim that a passage could include that aspect, they don't really prove it. Overall, I've been recommending this book a lot and going back to it again and again. This is a good challenge and lesson to every Christian to check what traditions, bias, and presuppositions you bring to the table of God's Word. Final Grade - A

  3. Amy Layton

    Amy Layton


    Did anyone even read this book? Tons of five stars. But it’s an anti-Gospel!!! The title is not accurate. It gives very little by way of examples of how “we Americans” misinterpret Scripture, and more a lecture on how “we Americans” are wrong to think that God loves us INDIVIDUALLY and it’s a silly idea to think that Jesus would have died just for me. The authors also seem to think it’s a shame that the printing press was invented because since then, non-clergy read the Bible and may get the wrong ideas. My Catholic friends don’t even think that anymore. Read reviews on Amazon, they’re more detailed and accurate.

  4. Sarah Moul

    Sarah Moul


    This is a must read for us Westerners. Very insightful on issues we probably wouldn't think about. This will certainly help in Bible studies.

  5. George Boucher
  6. Matthew



  7. David Strittmatter
  8. Cathedral Of Faith Church Of God In Christ
  9. Aimee Lerman

    Aimee Lerman


  10. Anstey Jeremiah
    I’ll give this book high marks bu only as an eye opener that would cause people not to impune their own thoughts on scripture. Now that I’ve learned the word “mores”, I would say I’ve always suspected missionaries did not teach about grace or rather did not trust their native converts with grace so they taught perfection. They taught don’t drink and God could not have made alcohol (I have that on tape) despite Deut 14:26. They taught that wine was grape juice; yet Paul didn’t tell Timothy to drink lots of it. The verdict is still out on musical instruments even if there is no scripture condemning it; they never considered that God was trying to say that if was necessary since it would restrict worship and the spreading of the gospel and that a capella would suffice. It’s hard to imagine that people claimed they were Christian and yet did not understand that people of color were brethren. I still hear Churches being designated white or black especially by the media and no one objects, it’s truly sad. But the book is a good read, it’s like wine tasting in that you can trash it around in your mouth, but you don’t have to swallow.

Enjoy this month's free book and discounted resources!


Digital list price: $22.00
Regular price: $13.99
Save $12.00 (85%)