Alice C Linsley
Reading Scripture through the lens of cultural anthropology is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data. This approach is distinctly different from the traditional approaches to the Bible termed "exegesis" and "eisegesis."
Exegesis draws meaning out of the text and eisegesis involves reading a personal meaning into the text. This explanation is simplistic, but it expresses the difference between reading the Bible in a scholarly way and reading for personal devotions. Both have a place in the Christian life and there are problems with both approaches.
Sloppy exegesis leads to misrepresentation of the Biblical material and misguided sermons. Private interpretations should not be proposed as true for the Church, especially if they run counter to Church Tradition and the Scriptures themselves.
We should employ the tools of cultural anthropology to test assumptions and to discover the data that clarifies context. If we seek to understand the Bible rather than use the Bible to support an agenda, we will find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful.
I invite you to learn more by visiting The Bible and Anthropology Forum where we practice the reading the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology. Learn to apply the tools of anthropology to the Bible and you will never read the Scriptures the same way again!
Related reading: Dismantling Outdated Interpretations; Contextual Incongruities in Genesis, Understanding the Science of Biblical Anthropology