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.
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
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.