Out of Context

How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible

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Are you guilty of interpretive malpractice? Here’s how to prevent it from happening again.

Although 92 percent of American households own at least one Bible, only 59 percent read it occasionally, and an even smaller percentage actually study it. It is no wonder that even those of us who value the Scriptures often don’t understand them!

In Out of Context, veteran Bible professor Richard L. Schultz uses contemporary examples of “interpretive malpractice” to explain how biblical interpretation can go wrong—and how to get it right. He introduces you to the important concepts of context, word meaning, and genre and the differences between the world of the Bible and our own. With the expert help in interpreting and applying Scripture shared in this book, you’ll find your Bible reading more rewarding than ever before.


Endorsements

"Richard Schultz has produced a most compelling and winsome discussion of some of the wrong turns that are often made in interpreting Scripture. While he rightfully expresses his concern for those who properly desire to apply these texts to our contemporary scene, he also tries to guide lay readers and professionals in a better way to accomplish the same task when their attempts go wrong. This book is a delightful read that will bring both tears and outbursts of laughter as examples of poor interpretations are shared. Here is a book that is a must for all readers of the Bible, which I recommend for each person's enlightenment and enjoyment."--Walter C. Kaiser Jr., president emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Having a correct view of God and living a faithful life are dependent on hearing God's voice accurately, and Schultz helps sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of interpretation and application. He exposes the inherent danger of misusing Scripture and leads us into a more careful approach to interpreting and applying Scripture in a way that is faithful to the text's original meaning and context. This book will help wean us off of the false conclusions of sloppy interpretation and will help us sort out the confusion that is so prevalent in so many Christian circles. It is a book that will inspire and teach at the same time, leading us to hunger and thirst for God's Word all the more."--Eric J. Bargerhuff, author of The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

"The authority of the Bible is under attack from many quarters today. Sadly, much of this is the result of self-inflicted wounds--Christians misreading and misapplying God's Word. Richard Schultz's Out of Context is a clarion call for greater attention to the meaning of the text in its original context. His dozens of examples from popular Christian literature provide not only warnings against the errors of the past but also positive principles for gleaning God's truth from Scripture today. This is must reading for Christian teachers, preachers, and writers."--Mark L. Strauss, professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary San Diego; author of How to Read the Bible in Changing Times

"Out of Context is a readable, understandable, and persuasive plea for Christians in all walks of life to raise the standard of biblical interpretation by demanding it in the books we read and providing it in the books we write and publish."--Julie Ackerman Link, editor, author, Bible study leader

"We hear God's voice in Scripture when we interpret it correctly. Nothing could be more important. Richard Schultz masterfully guides us away from common mistakes of interpretation and toward a reading that will transform our minds and hearts. This book is must reading for all Christians."
Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

"Out of Context is a practical guide to important skills for interpreting the Bible--practical enough to encourage you that growth as a student of Scripture is really possible. Richard Schultz also offers a good example of truly constructive criticism: his treatment of problematic interpretations is humble, restrained, and forward-looking, helping readers not just to see what's wrong but also to pursue what's right. This book therefore models the harmony of truth and love we need to see more often in the body of Christ."--Daniel J. Treier, professor of theology, Wheaton College; author of Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture

"Out of Context is an important book written by a careful Bible scholar who loves the church and understands the issues people face as we seek to hear God's Word and respond to it in our world. Before I had read fifty pages, I thought to myself, "This man longs for people to hear authentically what God is saying in his Word--not just what they hope God is saying in his Word." By the time I finished, I was convinced that Out of Context does more than demonstrate how we often misread and misapply Scripture. It also provides real help to enable us to interpret it and live faithfully in keeping with its message.
I should add one more point: the book is very readable. That makes it a book I want not only my pastoral colleagues but all my church people to read. It's evident that Dr. Schultz knows how to make complex issues concise and clear. I especially appreciate the chapter on how genre influences meaning. I'll be recommending this book to pastors and lay teachers--indeed, to all who want to listen to, understand, and obey God's Word."--Greg Waybright, PhD, senior pastor, Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA

"To any who interact regularly with the Bible but especially to those who minister God's Word--pastors, teachers, authors--and who desire to share it with others in a fresh and living way without dishonoring God by mishandling his Word, this book will be very useful as both guide and guardrail. Schultz's identification of specific 'mishandlings' and his use of concrete examples makes his book particularly helpful. I commend it highly."--Mike Bullmore, senior pastor, CrossWay Community Church, Bristol, WI


The Author

  1. Richard L. Schultz

    Richard L. Schultz

    Richard L. Schultz (PhD, Yale University) is the Blanchard Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is a regular contributor to scholarly journals and theological and biblical dictionary projects. He lives in Wheaton, Illinois

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