Out of Context by Richard L. Schultz (Wheaton College) is a sorely needed corrective to the widespread misuse of the Bible by teachers and speakers, both well-known and not-so-well-known. The author not only examines plenty of examples of “interpretive malpractice” (starting with The Prayer of Jabez), but he also sets forth in a clear and engaging way how to rightly read and apply verses and passages from Scripture.

    In the first two chapters, Schultz unpacks several reasons why Christians misinterpret the Bible and the underlying roots of this practice, including five ways that God allegedly speaks through the Bible. From there he launches into a very readable and practical explanation of how to interpret Scripture well, with a chapter each on context, word meanings, genre, and application.

    Though I would take issue with his treatment of statements by James Houston and Mark Buchanan (pp 115-19), and though I would like to see a more balanced treatment of Christ in the Old Testament, this book is still a first-rate read for church elders (who need to distinguish healthy from unhealthy teaching) and a great resource for Bible study/ small group leaders and Sunday School teachers. This book would serve well for a youth or adult Sunday School elective. In these days of instant access to all kinds of teaching both good and terrible (the parable of the dragnet comes to mind), we need help to know how to tell the difference. Out of Context equips us to do just that.

    This book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.