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The Bible was written within collectivist cultures. When Westerners, immersed in individualism, read the Bible, it’s easy to misinterpret important elements―or miss them altogether. In any culture, the most important things usually go without being said. So to read Scripture well we benefit when we uncover the unspoken social structures and values of its world. We need to recalibrate our vision.
Combining the expertise of a biblical scholar and a missionary practitioner, Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes is an essential guidebook to the cultural background of the Bible and how it should inform our reading. E. Randolph Richards and Richard James explore deep social structures of the ancient Mediterranean―kinship, patronage, and brokerage―along with their key social tools―honor, shame, and boundaries―that the biblical authors lived in and lie below the surface of each text. From Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar to Peter’s instructions to elders, the authors strip away individualist assumptions and bring the world of the biblical writers to life.
Expanding on the popular Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, this book makes clear how understanding collectivism will help us better understand the Bible, which in turn will help us live more faithfully in an increasingly globalized world.
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What was clear to the original readers of Scripture is not always clear to us. 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.”
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 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.
Preaching and music are both regular elements of Christian worship across the theological spectrum. But they often don’t interact or inform each other in meaningful ways.
In this Dynamics of Christian Worship volume, theologian, pastor, and musician Noel A. Snyder considers how the church’s preaching might be helpfully informed by musical theory. Just as a good musical composition employs technical elements like synchrony, repetition, and meter, the same should be said for good preaching that seeks to engage hearts and minds with the good news of Jesus Christ.
By drawing upon music that lifts the soul, preachers might craft sermons that sing.
How can we understand God’s revelation to us?
Throughout the church’s history, theologians have often answered this question by appealing to a doctrine of illumination whereby the Holy Spirit shapes our knowledge and understanding of Scripture. Without denying the role of the Holy Spirit or the cognitive role of illumination, Ike Miller casts a broader vision of divine illumination and its role in the Christian life. In his constructive approach, Miller argues for a fully trinitarian view of illumination that forms not just our intellect, but also appeals to the affections and encourages our ethical action.
In order to develop this theology of illumination, he explores both Augustine’s and Karl Barth’s readings of the Gospel and Epistles of John, including Barth’s previously untranslated lectures on the Gospel of John. In light of his careful study of both the Johannine literature and the theologies of two giants from Christian history, Miller lays out a doctrine of illumination whereby we are enabled to know the Father and participate in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As human beings, we are created with desires.
We all long for meaningful relationships, lives that reflect goodness, engagements with beauty, and the freedom to pursue our lives with integrity. But where can our restless hearts find fulfillment for these universal longings?
Philosopher and apologist Greg Ganssle argues that our widely shared human aspirations are best understood and explained in light of the Christian story. With grace and insight, Ganssle explains how the good news of Jesus Christ makes sense of―and fulfills―our deepest desires. It is only in the particular claims of the Christian faith, he argues, that our universal human aspirations can find fulfillment and our restless hearts will be at peace.
Romans has been described as the theological epistle par excellence. The apostle Paul emphasizes that salvation is by God’s grace alone. He gives assurance that freedom, hope, and the gift of righteousness are secured through Christ’s death on the cross, with the promise of a new and glorious destiny. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can discern and do the will of God in everyday life. God’s purpose is to bring Jews and Gentiles together so that they may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one voice. In this Tyndale Commentary, David Garland offers clear guidance along the rewarding, though sometimes difficult, paths of this great letter. The Tyndale Commentaries are designed to help the reader of the Bible understand what the text says and what it means. The Introduction to each book gives a concise but thorough treatment of its authorship, date, original setting, and purpose. Following a structural Analysis, the Commentary takes the book section by section, drawing out its main themes, and also comments on individual verses and problems of interpretation. Additional Notes provide fuller discussion of particular difficulties. In the new New Testament volumes, the commentary on each section of the text is structured under three headings: Context, Comment, and Theology. The goal is to explain the true meaning of the Bible and make its message plain.
The church is called to grow in Christ. Yet too often, it ignores the practical dimensions of the faith.
The church is one in Christ. Yet too often, it is divided by national, denominational, theological, and racial or ethnic boundaries.
The church is a global body of believers. Yet too often, it privileges a few voices and fails to recognize its own diversity.
In response, this volume offers a multi-denominational, multi-ethnic vision in which biblical scholars, theologians, and practitioners from around the world join together to pursue a cohesive yet diverse theology and praxis of spiritual formation for the global church.
Be fed in your faith by brothers and sisters from around the world.
What does it take to live a meaningful life? Why are so many people in affluent nations so anxious and unhappy? What difference does believing in God really make? And does belief in the God of the Bible truly make sense today?
In this revised edition of The God Question, philosopher J. P. Moreland invites us on a journey to a rich, ﬂourishing life. He digs into the causes of our cultural crisis of unhappiness and considers how the God revealed in Jesus provides the most rational solution to our deepest needs. With special sensitivity to skeptics, seekers, and Christians who are disenchanted with their faith, he helps us see the Christian story―its reasonableness and its relevance―in fresh ways.
For anyone wrestling with big questions about life and faith, Moreland provides insight from his many years of philosophical studies and his own experience as a Christian. Filled with personal stories, this book explores evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Gospels, essentials of a flourishing Christian life, the reality of miracles, and more. This edition also features a new section on overcoming anxiety and depression. Wherever you are on your journey, The God Question will help you see anew what difference Jesus makes in a human life.