Review of Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection – Part 4

OutOfContextThe 4th and final review of Logos’ “How to Read the Bible” Collection is a review of “Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible” by Richard Schultz. This was the best book in the whole collection. There are a lot of books that cover similar content to this one but this one has two things going for it that the other’s don’t. Books like D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies are excellent but pretty academic. This book can be read and understood by everyone from a beginner to a scholar. That is hard to pull of.

The second thing that makes this book stand out is that Schultz has hundreds of examples of interpretation errors from familiar books and familiar authors. He touches on everyone people like Rick Warren, James Dobson, John Piper, Larry Crabb and many more. What is so great about this is that in no way does Schultz come across like an attack dog. He is very, very humble in his presentation and even concludes the book with a section on his own care for those who make these mistakes in interpretation. The book really makes you respect and admire Richard Schultz.  He does it so well and his examples are so good that I am considering buying this book for my Christian Basics class.

The first section of the book deals with some of the most popular works that relied on misinterpreting scripture. Any guesses as to what his main example is? The Prayer of Jabez! He thoroughly and respectfully dissects that book and shows which principles of biblical misinterpretation went into the writing of that once extremely popular book. Second, he deals with the underlying misconceptions of scripture that lead to the common misinterpretations.

Schultz doesn’t just discuss how to do it wrong. Along the way he finds moments  of opportunity to introduce correctives to the problems he is outlining. So when he discusses proof texting he also discusses the different types of context and how to identify and use context to assist our interpretation. Here is one example where he emphasizes the use of historical-critical interpretation scripture,

What is important to note here is that biblical interpretation can go wrong at various points. When interpreting textual details, we can adopt a questionable translation of key words or phrases. Furthermore, we can ignore both the historical and literary contexts of the passage, which largely determine how the passage should be understood and how it functions within Scripture. We can also pay too little attention to the formal, structural, and stylistic features of a text and how these shape the communication of divine truth. Further difficulties are involved in the process of application, as we bridge the gap between the world of the Bible and our contemporary world and recommend concrete steps toward affirming and living out the truths and lessons of the Scriptures. Here we can move too quickly in universalizing a specific action or instruction, assuming that what one ancient Israelite experienced can and should be experienced by all contemporary Christians. – Schultz, R. L. Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible p. 19

He deals with so much more…common problems with word studies, understanding genre, failure to read prophesy in its original context (aka finding Jesus everywhere), and errors in application.  If you haven’t ever read a book on common ways to misinterpret scripture you really should get this book. So many of the discussions I have seen online would be cleared up if more people understood the even half of the principles laid out in this book.

8 Responses to Review of Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection – Part 4

  1. qoheleth1958 says:

    Very helpful. Consider it added to my “must read, probably must buy” list! Thank you!

    • mattdabbs says:

      If you are interested in this topic check out D.A. Carson and Gordon Fee as well. This really is a good collection if you have Logos and a way to get more books for less money :)

  2. Paul Smith says:

    I don’t know whether to thank you or kick you. This post is responsible for my *third* order to CBD today. (one planned, one because I forgot something, and now this) :)

    Thanks for the reviews – even if they do cost me money (and probably a night in the doghouse). I have Carson’s work, and am looking forward to this volume as well.

    Paul

  3. Noel Young says:

    I stumbled across this book a few months ago, and I agree that Richard Schultz did an excellent job of making book that is both accessible and non-confrontational. It is full of great information that has helped me rethink how to interpret the Bible. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

  4. Richard Schultz, a professor of OT at Wheaton College, takes readers on a journey of learning. The terrain is biblical interpretation. This book, intended for the general reader, is full of very sound advice in how to approach the biblical text. Key to his argument is that misinterpretation is all to common in the church today. After a brief by entertaining introduction based on the Jabez prayer phenomenon, he helps readers appreciate why misinterpretation is dangerous. He then gives a very well-rounded set of instructions for how to pursue a sound interpretation of the text that appreciates its cultural and biblical context, harnessing a broad array of hermeneutical tools in a helpful and friendly way. I think this book does a great service in both laying bare the misuse of Scripture that is too often let pass in the church and in popular Christian literature and at the same time making a case that anyone can handle the Bible in a responsible manner. Schultz’s work can help give confidence (and also some important caution) to anyone who desires to treat the Bible with the respect it deserves. This is an important way we can all show the true value of God’s Word.

  5. This book helps to put verses in proper perspective.Many folks are unaware of the way scriptures are misapplied and misunderstood.

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