How Not To Read Your Bible - Dan Kimball
How Not To Read Your Bible by Dan Kimball is a brave attempt to answer the critics who like to accuse God and the Bible of being extremely violent, anti-women, anti-scientific or just plain outdated and foolish.
One of the first things this book brought to my attention is that reading the Bible has motivated some people to become atheists. I had never thought of that before. Starting in Genesis and reading onward, a person encounters a talking snake, commands to kill everyone in a city, including children, laws which seem oppressive and much more. It can undoubtedly be offensive to our modern society. These things can shock non-Christians and Christians who have never really read their Bibles or have not thought about what they were reading. It can be devasting when a non-Christian poses some of these questions to a Christian who is unaware that such verses exist.
Dan Kimball does an excellent job of describing things we have to consider when reading the Bible, such as:
The Bible is a library of books with different styles. You cannot read a poetry book in the same way you read a history book.
Although the Bible was written for people of all time, it was not originally written to us. To understand difficult Bible passages, we must know how the original audience would have understood them. We must consider social, cultural and historical perspectives as well as an Eastern perspective vs. our modern Western perspective. Most importantly, we have to know the Biblical context of individual passages.
We must remember that although we can draw many personal lessons and encouragement from Scripture, its primary purpose is to reveal Jesus.
This book is well worth reading. Dan Kimball does an excellent job at laying down fundamental principles of Bible interpretation and explaining specific complex themes and verses. How Not To Read Your Bible will enrich the knowledge of Christians and prepare them to face difficult questions.
I do have two significant issues with this book, however.
The book falls into the trap of misunderstanding the value and application of Biblical Law today. The author assumes that only the laws restated in the New Testament are valid today. This is a better position than some have taken, but it still falls short. Beastiality, for example, is not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament, yet I doubt God has changed His mind. Mr. Kimball does not see the Law as the governing way of life for individuals and governments. We deal with this issue in detail in our Master Life and Biblical Law courses available at the Joshua Institute.
How Not To Read Your Bible fails to maintain the integrity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis by trying to legitimize a compromise with evolution. I agree that Genesis was not written as a scientific textbook, but every subject the Bible touches, it does so accurately. Christians who question the straightforward reading of Genesis should not be told to simply choose between science and the Bible or, as Mr. Kimball does, presented with a compromise position. They should be directed to sources of scientific evidence for a young earth - and they are abundant.
Despite these two serious weaknesses, in my opinion, How Not To Read Your Bible is well worth reading and provides excellent insight into current issues and some difficult Bible Verses.