One of my colleagues put me onto this great read by Richards and O’Brien. It’s called, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders To Better Understand the Bible.
The book covers many topics that are worthy of our attention such as: cultural mores, language, individualism vs. collectivism, honor & shame, time, and rules & relationships. I like this book not only because it covers some great topics that we neglect to understand, but also because it’s full of biblical examples that drive home their points.
Allow me to offer a few samples from the book. When discussing mores (essentially social norms we accept without questioning) they say, “Our hierarchy of what behaviors are better or worse than others is passed down to us culturally and unconsciously. We might assume that our mores are universal and that Christians everywhere have always felt the way we feel about things. But they aren’t, and they haven’t” (34).
When discussing honor & shame, they point out that individualistic cultures tend to be right-wrong cultures, whereas collectivist cultures tend to be honor-shame cultures. Westerners simply don’t think in terms of honor & shame, and thus, we often don’t get what’s really happening in the text. This chapter will help most people!
Great book! Yeah, like all books, there may be some things you think are a bit overstated. I’m still wanting to read a few of their comments with Bible in hand. But trust me, you’ll learn a lot from reading this book.