Rachel Held Evans criticizes extremely individualistic Bible reading

March 21, 2013

The Bible: It’s just not that into you
In this post from her blog, Rachel Held Evans takes issue with the The Personal Promise Bible that, according to its advertisement, “inserts YOUR name in more than 7000 key scriptures throughout the Bible.” Evans writes: “While this product may be an extreme example, it points to the profound influence of Western individualism on our reading of the biblical text. Passages that were originally written for groups of people, and intended to be read and applied in a community setting (the nation of Israel, the various early churches, the first followers of Jesus), have been manipulated to communicate a personal, individual message…thus leading the reader away from the original corporate intent of the passage to a reaffirmation of the individualistic, me-centered, and consumerist tendencies of American religious culture” (bold font emphasis, hers).

Related reading: The product Evans criticizes also shows one more example of what Lee Wyatt, writing for Marginal Christianity, calls “pimping out the Bible,” treating sacred Scriptures as one more opportunity for a kind of “commercialized prostitution of the Bible” through niche marketing and advertising, including exploiting gender stereotypes (pink princess Bibles for girls and blue warrior Bibles for boys) and certain ideologies (such as patriotism).

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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