• How (Not) to Read the Bible

  • Making Sense of the Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Pro-Violence, Pro-Slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture
  • By: Dan Kimball
  • Narrated by: Dan Kimball, Sean McDowell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (287 ratings)

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How (Not) to Read the Bible

By: Dan Kimball
Narrated by: Dan Kimball,Sean McDowell
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Publisher's Summary

When Dan Kimball first sat down to meet with a student who was disillusioned by Christianity, he wasn't ready for what he was about to hear. The student had a positive church experience. He was grateful for his youth leader. But he had serious objections to Christianity. Why? He had begun studying the Bible and found he could no longer accept what it taught. Reading the Bible had led him to become an atheist.

In How (Not) to Read the Bible, pastor and best-selling author Dan Kimball tackles one of the most pressing apologetic challenges of the 21st-century church - how do we interpret the Bible? 

Kimball introduces several critical principles to utilize when you open a Bible or listen to a verse. Then, he looks at five of the most common challenges that arise when people hear the Bible today, including: the relationship between science and the Bible, the violence we find in the Bible, the treatment of women in the Bible, the odd and strange commands we find in the Bible, and the Bible's controversial claim that there is only one way to know God. Kimball highlights several of the most common passages people find objectionable and shows listeners how to correctly interpret them.

This is an ideal book for those exploring Christianity or new to the faith, as well as Christians who are wrestling with questions about these difficult issues and the challenges of interpreting the Bible. Filled with stories and examples, as well as visual illustrations and memes reflecting popular cultural objections, How (Not) to Read the Bible will motivate listeners who are confused or discouraged by questions they have about the Bible and guides them - step-by-step - to a clear understanding of what the Bible is saying in context. The book can also be taught as a six-week sermon series or used in small groups for study and discussion.

Accompanying images and reference tables are available in the audiobook companion PDF download. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Dan Kimball (P)2020 Zondervan

What listeners say about How (Not) to Read the Bible

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Painful to listen to

I’m going to finish listening because the content is good but the narrator/author is struggling and very uneasy. This book has just been released on audible, I strongly encourage the author/audible to think about hiring a professional reader for this important content to be shared with members. Blessings

8 people found this helpful

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Out of his depth …

Misogyny and slavery are written off as god planting seeds and working with the culture of the time. Yet — Yahweh had no strategy for much less important rules. Equality was a work in progress? Genocide is rationalized with semantics and destruction of evil, child-sacrificing villains. Yet — the god of Israel commanded destruction of children in war. How was that not sacrifice if demanded by god?! I’m beginning to think Christian apologetics is such a shallow genre because Yahweh is an indefensible god.

4 people found this helpful

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Still solidly Evangelical - a mixed blessing

Dan Kimball clearly loves people more than dogma. that is the strength of this book. I am glad he narrated his own book because it lets that caring nature shine through. However, though he may be exploring new territory for many in the Evangelical world he does not escape its orbit. . periodically throughout the book Kimball offers excellent advice for healthy reading and interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. But for whatever reason, he keeps one foot touching base so critical evangelicals might not throw him out. For example, the offers the advice to "never read a Bible verse." he encourages us to always consider the context both in the text and the culture around the text. but then for the rest of the book he makes conservative Evangelical points by quoting single verses. I would recommend this book to conservative Christians who are beginning to deconstruct fundamentalist teaching. I would not give this book to intellectually astute culturally aware people offended by the primitive parts of the Bible.

2 people found this helpful

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Debunking internet propaganda.

I have been searching for some down to earth, meat and bones information to help me, help children that have been influenced by all the internet propaganda for some time now. I have read and listened and watched, thousands of hours of different kinds of information, searching for ways to help children out of the quicksand that is swallowing them up. This book has given me much needed information and resources to fight the fight more effectively. I am deeply grateful to all those who for love of Christ and His mission have dedicated themselves to joining the army of our living God, in this spiritual warfare we are now encountering through social media. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in need of effective ways to understand and debunk the propaganda that has reeked havoc on today’s children and their beliefs. I found most of what I was looking for in the final chapters of this book.
I myself found his presentation of this book to be more like a college professor teaching a course in Bible. I appreciated that presentation and found myself retaining more of what I heard, while being able to practicality apply it to my everyday speech when dealing with students in my Sunday school class as well as children that have left the church because of the false statements that are being used to turn our children away from God.

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Much needed book

Dan Kimball is a theologian, critical thinker, cultural observer, and teacher as well as an excellent author.
With humility and insight Dan addresses common objection to some of the Bible’s most difficult texts. How (Not) to Read the Bible also provides skills and tools to help the reader understand the totality of the biblical story. And how to properly read and understand the scriptures.

I felt like Dan “gave me a fish” when he unpacked specific difficult passages and concepts. But he also “taught me to fish” so that I can better study, understand, and apply scripture on my own.

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Love this - gets you out of the Bible rabbit-holes

I can't tell you how much I love this book! It's just what I needed. I happened to be in the car, switched the radio channel and landed on a Christian station and the host was interviewing Dan Kimball. I immediately went online and bought this audiobook.

This book put me and everyone I know into our places: Don't take what you read in the Bible EXACTLY at face value: you must know THE CONTEXT for which books were written. I feel now I can never go back to any old habits of cherry-picking verses or even chapters from the Bible and making a quick assumption/perspective on a topic/issue without first truly vetting the CONTEXT. Examples would be: who it was written for, who the author was, when it was written and what was God's real purpose for breathing into the hearts/minds of authors.

This should be required reading for any believer. I will be having my college daughter and high school son listen as well. I even told my husband he should consider doing this as a study for his Men's group. We all need to be enlightened on this topic.

Sometimes we all lose the big-picture of God's word. For me, this brought the entire Bible together and gave me such a better understanding from a high-level view. And...I had many ah-ha moments. Thank you Dan Kimball for your work on this.

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A Great Book

How (Not) to Read the Bible is filled with interesting facts and information about how to read the Bible correctly. The author takes the trouble to explain verses in the Bible that are violent, racist, and even misogynistic. His explanations were thorough, and I learned a lot from them. I listened to this book from Audible. The narration was excellent.

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Fantastic journey through the Bible

Dan did a fantastic job articulating and explaining the complex backstory to some of the most confusing parts of the Bible. I would recommend this book to anyone atheist or Christian.

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Deep answers to deep questions!

As someone who has been a Christian my entire life, I need deep answers to deep questions - not copy & paste simple responses. This book helped me solidify my belief that God’s character is both good and consistent, even though there are parts of the Old Testament that are a hard pill to swallow. Christians and unbelievers alike need more books like this.

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Incredibly repetitive

Your teacher asks for a 10 page report. You finish with only 2 pages of actual content. You add repetitive fluff to make up the difference. Welcome to this book.

I could not finish this title. It was painful to listen to the same point being made 10 times in a row in the same chapter, using the same words and phrases, over and over again. It’s bad enough that it makes it difficult to focus on the few good points made by the author. I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-03-21

Worth it.

Insightful, honest, encouraging. For long time believers as well! I enjoyed it thoroughly throughout. Totally worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • S. Andrews
  • 01-05-22

Terribly repetitive

Whilst the gist of the book is a worthwhile read I felt the repetition of the points quite irritating. Perhaps it is because the author expects listeners to dip into one or two chapters and not read/listen to the whole book. Perhaps too the ‘audience’ are those who never read the Bible. And if so they would learn more about the ‘god’ they may think the Bible describes than the God who inspired the Bible.

The author is responding to ‘memes’ that must be prevalent in the US that are aggressively anti-Christian in which case the book is good. But would someone who readily accepts such memes be open enough to read this book?

I found the background to the various cultures of the day helpful, though.

I wish I had bought the hard copy to flick through and dip in rather than listen to every word.

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  • Greg Tyrrell
  • 11-07-22

Highly recommended

The content of the book is great, unfortunately the reading of the audio book made it hard to finish.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-15-22

Vital and necessary

I too have had too many a conversation with fellow Christians who doubt their faith because of their perceived struggles with the more 'unpalatable' parts of scripture. What a fantastic, approachable and thorough guided tour through these texts this book is! Thank you Dan!

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  • RMH
  • 01-19-22

Interesting, but bored

I am clearly not the fundamentalist, evangelical target audience. I heard Dan on the Bible Project podcast, and thought this book would be targeted to a more intelligent audience. He labours each point and is very repetitive. The presuppositions, while supported by mainline evangelical churches, are not the scholarly consensus. Don't read this is you have done any actual biblical study. Okay if you are new to the whole field.

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  • Kirsten Anstey
  • 01-18-22

So helpful in understanding the Christian faith

There is so much misinformation that undermines Christianity. This book gives a great formula for how to read the bible. So helpful!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-26-21

very helpful

lots of food for thought and clear explanation of how to read the Bible. excellent.

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  • Thomas Riches
  • 03-07-21

interesting book

Dan's knowledge of the Bible, it's history and of the time is just fascinating. The context he gives to many Bible stories shows insight about the time, what the writer was aiming for and how it should bwhether I really enjoyed it.