I recently finished the book Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. It was a great reminder that my individualistic eyes may mislead me as I read scripture. The book didn’t give a right versus wrong way of reading the Bible. Instead, It gave options. It expanded my view and expanded God.
It reminded me that most of the world reads with collectivistic eyes. Eyes that start with community. Eyes that look out for the greater good before self.
I tend to read scriptures to meet a current need or ones that fit my views. I don’t always look for the bigger picture. I focus on what it means to me. This book has shown me that I am missing part of who God is and what scripture has to tell me.
The book points out that I tend to read the word “you” as singular. However, it can also be plural. Again, me versus all or a group of people. This book has challenged me to look more broadly when I read.
An example is Jeremiah 29. This chapter is written to a group of exiles.
29 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin[a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said: (Jeremiah 29:1-3 NIV).
Many of us, myself included, read Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you…” as for me the individual. How does the scripture change if I change the “you” to a plural?
Am I misreading this scripture? What else am I misreading? This book has broadened scripture and made God even bigger for me. Culture, context, limits of the English language, changes over 2000 + years reminds me that God knew what the writers of the Bible didn’t, God is in control. God’s love is bigger than the words on the page, and there is so much more for me to learn about His Message.
Are you misreading scripture? Is there a bigger picture for you to see? It it time to take a more collectivistic view? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.