The Most Misused Stories in the Bible ~ A Book Review

Understanding the Bible is difficult. It requires patience and persistence, something that we often lack in today’s world of instantánea. Yet to rush straight to application without a proper hermeneutic (study and interpretation of Scripture) can result in consequences far greater than mere misapplication, but also sets a standard for a weak and unsustainable theology. There is a great importance in ensuring we are careful with God’s Word, cautious not to insert our own desires into God’s truth. Aiding this step is identifying those texts that are most misinterpreted.
Following up on a previously released The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, Dr. Eric J. Bargerhuff recently  offered another book called The Most Misused Stories in the Bible. Bargerhuff writes that his intention is to put some of those misused Bible stores in context “with the hope of bringing clarity and light to what God wants for our lives.” Therefore, in a short book (177 pages in all) the author has put together 14 well-known, yet well-distorted stories of Scripture. These include stories such as David & Goliath, Cain & Abel, and even Judas’ betrayal and each chapter is simplistically laid out to include a personal study, an explanation of the Bible story and its misinterpretation, finally concluding with remarks about the true implications.
Dr. Eric Bargerhuff has captured some of the most notably misused stories and done well at exposing the abuse they endure. Readers will not only be confronted by the necessity to address the false notions, they will be confronted with thinking beyond normal expectations. At times the author will offer confrontational statements that suggest perhaps not everyone who claims to be saved, is really saved. Other times he attacks notions of traditionalism. However, perhaps the greatest contribution is the confrontation self. Dr. Bargerhuff does well at trying to present each text in a God-oriented manner rather than a self-oriented inclination.
This is not a book offering deep exegesis of the various stories being presented, so one should not expect that the author is going to expound significantly upon the verse. Instead, the author’s goal is simply to give a brief explanation of the misinterpretation and then offer some various points that counter that interpretation. He does very well at this, however it is unfortunate that at times the author seems to misinterpret the misinterpretation. For example, in discussing how the story of David and Goliath is misused, he draws attention the notion that some suggest this is a story about being brave and not having fear. While certainly some will explain the text in this way, the majority seem to interpret this story more about a conflict between the weak and the strong. Many will often even describe it as a true underdog story. So while his interpretation is not necessarily wrong, because he addressed the wrong misinterpretation, he overlooks a greater problem. This seems to occur several times in other stories as well, such as Jesus’ performance of miracles in his own hometown or the rich fool. Again, I must emphasize he is not necessarily wrong, however there are greater issues that could have been addressed.
Furthermore, in no way should the book be expected to be comprehensive, covering all misinterpreted stories. Such a task would be nearly impossible to complete. Instead, the book is meant to discuss some of those most misconstrued. The impossibility of the task points to a great need, the need to teach proper exegetical interpretation to believers. Instead of merely laying out a case for why a verse is misinterpreted and giving readers the right interpretation, the author would have been more helpful to take advantage of the opportunity by using in order to equip believers. Instead of merely ‘giving the answers’ we should be aiding others to be able to find the answers themselves.
The Most Misused Stories In the Bible offers an opportunity to correct false teaching and false thinking. The author has brought forth some exacting points and has indeed created some clarity for the Lord’s Words. Unfortunately, the substance of the book could have been greatly improved by providing tools to help readers interpret Scripture. If the matter is simply determining a right view of a particular passage, there are a number of available, and solid, resources available online that can do the same. As a result, the book does not set itself apart as something distinctive that necessitates the cost. My suggestion to believers, without disparaging the book, is to invest the time in learning how to read and interpret Scripture, because this will serve a long-term necessity of seeing the whole of Scripture.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher for the purposes of review, however I was in no way influenced by the publisher, the author, or other vested persons. Instead, the review is the response of my own reading of the book.