He has served as interim pastor of numerous churches and is currently a teaching pastor. He and Stacia reside in Palm Beach, Florida. Brandon J.
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He is coauthor, with E. Randolph Richards , Brandon J. 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 Western readers hear Paul exhorting women to "dress modestly," we automatically think in terms of sexual modesty. But most women in that culture would never wear racy clothing. The context suggests that Paul is likely more concerned about economic modesty—that Christian women not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes, braided hair and gold jewelry. Some readers might assume that Moses married "below himself" because his wife was a dark-skinned Cushite.
Actually, Hebrews were the slave race, not the Cushites, who were highly respected. Aaron and Miriam probably thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying "above himself. What went without saying was that they were likely accompanied by a large entourage of extended family. Biblical scholars Brandon O'Brien and Randy Richards shed light on the ways that Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible.
They identify nine key 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, O'Brien and Richards show how better self-awareness and understanding of cultural differences in language, time and social mores allow us to see the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways. Getting beyond our own cultural assumptions is increasingly important for being Christians in our interconnected and globalized world.
Learn to read Scripture as a member of the global body of Christ. For example, the authors challenge Western cultural assumptions with stories from missionary experiences in Indonesia regarding exams, privacy, and time.
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Westerners would likely be surprised by Indonesian students who felt that guessing at multiple choice questions was a form of cheating, be violated by neighbors entering a house thought to be shared, and be offended by individuals showing up late to a church service. However, it is important not to miss the point of the exercise. The ultimate point is not to stage East against West, but to assist Western readers in recognizing that the culture of antiquity is significantly different than modernity, and in order for proper biblical interpretation to occur, the interpreter must identify and appreciate these cultural differences.
For example, the authors suggest that the Western self-focused lens has caused misinterpretations of 1 Cor.
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In 1 Cor. The authors note that many English interpreters suggest that the body is meant to apply to a single individual. However, the authors point out that the context of the passage and second person plural pronouns in the original Hebrew suggest the verse pertains to the future welfare of a collective group of exiles in Babylon. Once again, a self-focused Western perspective can cause readers to misinterpret the verse. Along with the two specific strengths, a number of weaknesses also exist. A number of weaknesses are explicitly identified by the authors themselves, which include generalized statements, anecdotal evidence, the limited cultural perspectives that necessarily exist as white Western males, and an oversimplification of the material.
Since these weaknesses are already assumed and evident, the following weaknesses will address specific questionable biblical assumptions and a lack of clear definitions, which may cause confusion. First, the authors, at times, state that certain biblical assumptions are correct, without acknowledging valid alternative views.
However, F. Since the book appears to be written for the layperson who may not know the valid academic alternatives, the necessity of these caveats may be particularly important.
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The assumption is certainly not conclusive. Second, the authors create ambiguity by not explicitly defining terms. Admittedly, the authors attempt to define innocence and guilt, and then juxtapose them with honor and shame. However, when using illustrations, the definitions between types of shame become muddled and cause confusion. Furthermore, the authors also state that in Gal. The reader is left wondering if Paul was right or wrong in his approach, which may cause a reader to miss the essential point of cultural distinctions, and simultaneously, risk a misapplication of religious power.
A similar concern arises when attempting to address the issue of the church. Unfortunately, the former specifically pertains to institutional events and the latter pertains to a body of believers in Christ.
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes | Critical Thoughts & Notes
No definitional distinctions are made between the two and they are even used interchangeably within a given sentence. The pattern continues throughout the chapter, and again, confusion can ensue within the mind of the reader when addressing the important topic of individualism versus collectivism. Although certain weaknesses do detract, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.
It appears the authors successfully accomplished the goals set forth in the introduction.
Specifically, the authors successfully highlighted the importance of reading Scripture within its historical and cultural context. It also insightfully prompts readers to internally reflect on their own presuppositions and worldview that may undermine correct biblical interpretation. Due to its accessibility and importance in properly interpreting Scripture, the relevant audience is broad in scope and would include laypeople, students, pastors and scholars.
Furthermore, it would be an appropriate study for Bible study groups, small group curriculum, as well as academic coursework. Finally, the practical application primarily involves using the insights provided within the book to spur further exploration of the history and culture of the Ancient Near East and Second Temple Judaism in order to do understand the Bible within its historical and cultural context. Bruce, F.
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The Epistle to the Galatians. Edited by I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, Davidson, Richard M. A Case Study in Narrative Theology. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians , ed. Eerdmans, , Summary The authors use two devices to help accomplish their goals. Critical Evaluation The following critical analysis of the book includes an evaluation of the authors perspectives and their supporting evidence, as well as an analysis of the strengths of their arguments alongside a presentation of weaknesses.
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