Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes – Review
Today’s book review is written by my husband.
Thanks for sharing your insights on this fabulous resource!
There is an interesting concept called cognitive blindness. One way to explain this is that, while you are focused on one thing, something else in your field of view changes, yet you are unaware that a change has occurred. This frequently happens to parents. For instance, imagine that you are in a grocery store, reading a label, and watching your child out of the corner of your eye. Then, while you are concentrating on the label, your child wanders off, unnoticed. Scary? Yes – but, it happens more often than we’d like to acknowledge.
Another type of blindness is lack of self-awareness. We all have blind spots related to us as individuals. If we saw ourselves as other see us, we would be shocked at times.
Recently, I was training an individual who was over-eager, and his over-eagerness was hurting his performance by making him appear nervous and anxious. When I encouraged him to relax a bit and enjoy the process, my trainee politely informed me that two other trainers had recently told him the same thing, but he didn’t understand what they were talking about and that the advice didn’t make sense. In other words, he was blind to what others saw. He lacked self-awareness.
While both of these concepts are important to us as individuals, as Christians, there is another type of blindness that can be even more damaging: cultural blindness.
Many years ago, I heard a speaker, Ray Bakke, who understood this concept. Ray opened his presentation with this statement:
A point of view is a view from a point, and I need to share with you my point of view.
Ray proceeded to talk about the culture and area he grew up in, and what the surrounding Christian religious influences were like. It was only after he shared this information that he addressed the broader topic for which he was engaged to speak upon. Before he communicated, it was important that his audience understood his point of view.
I share this in order to introduce you to an amazing book by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien called Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. This book challenges Western readers to be aware of the cultural assumptions we often bring to Scripture. Among other things, it talks about the differences in how various cultures perceive topics we assume are universal in nature, such as vice and virtue, rules versus relationships, community versus individualism, and time.
Although most people believe that these concepts have universal meaning, the authors demonstrate that this belief is false. Concepts are not static – they change with time, location and culture. As the authors illustrate throughout, most communication is bathed in “what is not being said”.
What that means is this:
Within your native culture, certain things do not need to be spelled out in the context of communication because certain ideas are automatically understood by listeners who reside within the same time, location, and cultural context of the initial message bearer.
However, when the original message travels outside of a culture or is translated into a different language – those things that are “not said but understood” often get lost in the translation and misconstrued by new readers and hearers who overlay their own cultural understanding over the original message. This is precisely what happens when Western Christians read the Bible.
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes makes us more acutely aware of our worldview and the cultural biases that influence our interpretation of Scripture, and of the worldview and cultural biases that impacted the writers of the Bible, so that we can more accurately interpret God’s Word.
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes is the best Christian book I have read in years. I highly recommend it and hope you will read it with an open heart, as I believe it will help you to understand God’s truths more fully.
I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
For More Information:
- Visit Intervarsity Press.
- Visit Amazon.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Intervarsity Press Publications for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Fantastic review. Will we be reading more of hubby’s reviews?
I hope so! His reviews have been well received!
His last review was Blood and Bones at http://www.create-with-joy.com/2013/09/blood-and-bone-by-don-hoesel.html – be sure to check it out!
WOW! Sounds like a great book! I am sure the filipino culture is so different from the Jewish one so I’m sure I will learn a lot from this book. Thank you! patsy
You’re welcome Patsy – this is a fabulous resource!
I’m so glad your hubby put together this review. The book reminds me of a hand-out I once put together for our Bible Core Course at YWAM to help the students understand the Hebrew culture and way of thinking. The title of the hand-out is “East Meets West” by Ray Vander Laan. He put together That The World May Know DVD series. We have a very “Greek” worldview, where numbers are about a specific quantity, but in Hebrew culture it’s about quality/symbolism. Good Bible interpretation is based on context. I’m going to mention this book to my hubby. God bless!
That sounds like a wonderful course and handout Christina! I believe that you and your husband would appreciate this book very much!
Have a blessed week!
Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God
It sounds very interesting. I’ll have to take a peek at it next time I’m at the Christian book store. Thanks for the heads up.