Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons

Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons

Russell Pregeant, Fortress Press

When we finished our Chinese meal and were paying the bill, the staff member gave us two fortune cookies, as is their custom. When I got home I cracked open mine and the message read: “Happy news is on the way to you.”

On the front cover of Russell Pregeant’s book — and indeed throughout the book — a fortune cookie graphic is used. On the message tag are various comments, such as: all communication requires interpretation — especially the Bible; “Bible abuse” means using the Bible as a tool for abusing other; the biblical story has ambiguities and inconsistencies; early Christians gave writings authority if they nurtured life, and Paul’s view of same-sex relations was shaped by exploitative practices.

Pregeant, a lecturer in New Testament at Andover Newton Theological School, wants to show that reading the Bible without interpretation is not only impossible, but all attempts are hazardous to one’s health.

How we read the Bible is important. But for many people this question is never asked. To present his reason why it is important, Pregeant offers seven chapters covering such topics as: The testimonies of two communities; Rethinking biblical authority; Understanding biblical prophecy and ethics; and a short Epilogue “The Biblical Witness and the Word of God”.

This book could serve as an introduction to the issue of biblical criticism. But, for the more advanced reader, Marcus Borg’s Heart of Christianity or Speaking Christianity would be the places to continue a personal journey.

Rex Hunt

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