Deeper Waters Podcast 5/17/2014: Randy Richards

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the great mistakes I often see us doing with Scripture is reading it as if it was written for our audience in modern language and terminology and with our culture specifically in mind. This can lead to many errors when reading the Bible. Fortunately, there’s a great book out that deals with these errors called “Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.”

And fortunately, one of the co-authors of that book, Randy Richards, is going to be my guest this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Who is he? His faculty page describes him in this way:

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“Dr. Randy Richards loves training students for ministry, both domestically and internationally. He has been teaching since 1986, originally at a state university and then abroad at an Indonesian seminary. Upon returning to the States, Dr. Richards served at two Christian universities before joining Palm Beach Atlantic University as the dean of the School of Ministry in 2006.

His wife Stacia has joyfully accompanied him from jungles of Indonesia to rice fields in Arkansas to beautiful South Florida. They have two fine sons: Josh (Ph.D. 2012, University of St. Andrews, Scotland), a university professor in English, and Jacob (Ph.D. 2014, College of Medicine, University of Florida), a medical researcher.

Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored five books and dozens of articles. He recently published Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes with Brandon O’Brien (InterVarsity, 2012); “Reading, Writing, and the Production and Transmission of Manuscripts” in The Background of the New Testament: An Examination of the Context of Early Christianity (Baker, 2013); “Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? The Author in Greco-Roman Letter Writing” in Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012); “Pauline Prescripts and Greco-Roman Epistolary Convention” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament (Brill, 2012); and a dozen articles in The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Baker, 2013).

This year, he is finishing a new textbook, Rediscovering Jesus, and another popular book, Paul Behaving Badly, both with InterVarsity Press. He is also completing chapters in two other books.

Dr. Richards is a popular lecturer, speaker and preacher, recently in places as diverse as Wycliffe Hall (Oxford), Kathmandu, and Kenya. He was a Senior Scholar at the IRLBR Summer Summit at Tyndale House (Cambridge) in 2013. He regularly conducts missionary training workshops, and currently serves as a teaching pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach.”

Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes is the kind of book I wish every Christian would read. It would prevent a multitude of errors and while love covers over a multitude of sins, accurate knowledge covers and prevents a multitude of errors.

I hope you’ll be listening in then this Saturday from 3-5 PM EST. This is going to be an important show. As always, we will be able to take your questions if you wish to call in. The number will be 714-242-5180. I hope that you’ll be taking advantage of getting to hear a scholar speak on this important issue.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Portraits of Paul

What was Paul really like as a person? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Portraits of Paul (POP) is a book by Bruce Malina and Jerome Neyrey, both of them NT scholars. The idea of the work is to help us get to learn what Paul was like. How can we really get to know Paul the man?

Or maybe that’s not really the idea.

People getting the book wanting to get a psychological profile on the apostle Paul will be disappointed. POP instead makes the case that a POP of the apostle makes no sense in the society he lived in. Paul lived in a collectivist society where persons were not known as individuals (It would be known that they existed of course, but you would not know one person on an intimate level) and not even to themselves! Your identity came from your group that you identified with. If anything, being an individualist standing out from the crowd would be seen as deviancy and a threat.

At this point, many readers are thinking “That makes no sense to me.” If so, that is because you are already thoroughly soaked in individualistic thinking without realizing that 70% of the world thinks differently. For those of us who live in America, we are tempted constantly to see our culture as the model and think that every culture must be like ours. (That having been said, politically, I do hold to American exceptionalism.)

Yet when we enter the world of the Bible, that world is not just like ours. Persons were not seen as individuals and when we try to look at them that way, we develop problems. We can too often throw the ideas of our own culture back onto the text. As with studying any text from another culture, we should seek to know that culture first.

At this point, the fundamental atheist reader is saying “Shouldn’t God have made it easier if He wanted us all to know His truth?” Yet the charge is just an example of what POP is writing about. It is the assumption today that study should be simple and plain and great truth and rewards should not require much effort. It doesn’t work with dieting. It doesn’t work with exercise. It doesn’t work with college. It doesn’t work with romance. It doesn’t work with a career. Yet somehow, we think it should work with religion.

The reader of POP will not learn necessarily much about Paul as an individual, but they will learn how someone like Paul would have been seen based on his group identifications. They will learn why he wrote what little he did write about himself and how he wrote appealing to his audience and how they would have seen it. They will learn about such truths as the word pistis, translated faith, really is used for a means of forensic proof (P. 87) and that saying “Let your conscience be your guide” would have mad no sense to the people back then. (P. 187)

Hopefully as well, they’ll emerge with a greater understanding of the NT.

In conclusion, this is another book I highly recommend. One of the greatest barriers to understanding the NT is the cultural one and this book will be a great addition to any library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters