Book Review by
A lifetime ago, when tests were taken with No. 2 pencils and without calculators, the preparation for a multiple choice test included this advice: If you run short on time, go ahead and guess. Your guess has a chance of being right, and anything left blank is wrong.
So, dutifully, many of us readily bubbled ovals in a line when the time limit was nearly up.
I doubt that any one of us ever considered that guessing correctly would be dishonorable. After all, the goal is to get as many of the questions right as possible, is it not? The introduction to “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” recounts a story of the author’s time in Indonesia where his students rocked this simple assumption: Guessing correctly? That’s lying to the professor about what you know.
This opening story sets up “Misreading Scripture” quite well. Throughout this work, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien present Scriptural passages that we tend to read in one manner due to the light of our shared cultural experiences. They then present other possibilities for those passages. For example, we often picture a Nativity scene with Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and some animals. Would this have truly been the case? “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” gives us another view: a hectic stable with aunts and cousins, all working through the cultural routines of childbirth.
Throughout “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes,” the authors are clear that they are highlighting the cultural blind spots of what we call the West, which are places such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as the Bible teaching that we have exported around the world. They are clear that any culture is likely to misread Scripture, but acknowledge that as a pair of white men in America, they are most qualified to discuss their own weaknesses.
I found the text of “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” easy to read, and many places are now highlighted in my copy. The next time I preach on Peter’s admonitions of modesty, I will consult what Richards and O’Brien point out regarding economic modesty, as well as consider the latest skin-baring fashions. This is a helpful resource for learning and reference for the Bible-driven teacher and preacher.
Doug Hibbard is pastor of First Baptist Church, Almyra.