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

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Because of the cultural distance between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text. For example, when Paul exhorts women to "dress modestly," we automatically think in terms of sexual modesty. But Paul is likely more concerned about economic modesty—that Christian women do not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes and gold jewelry. And Western individualism leads us to assume that Mary and Joseph traveled alone to Bethlehem. What went without saying was that they were likely accompanied by a large entourage of extended family.

Biblical scholars Randy Richards and Brandon O'Brien shed light on the ways that Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible. They identify nine keys areas where modern Westerners have significantly different assumptions about what might be going on in a text. Drawing on their own crosscultural experience in global mission, Richards and O'Brien show how better to self-awareness and understanding of cultural differences in language, time and social mores allow us to see the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways.

About the Authors

E. Randolph Ricahrds (Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Ministry and professor of biblical studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a coauthor of Rediscovering Paul and the author of Paul and First-Century Letter Writing.

Brandon J. O'Brien is editor-at-large for Leadership and is completing his doctorate in theological studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of The Strategically Small Church.


Interesting, thoughtful and user-friendly.
Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom