18 Reasons Why the Bible Is Misunderstood in Modern Times

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By Jonathan Trent

The Bible was once held as a sacred text, but these days, it gets misunderstood greatly due to word of mouth and misinformation online. To show you what we mean, here are 18 reasons why the Bible is not fully understood in modern times.

Cultural Context

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Modern society has completely different norms from those at the time of the Bible. In fact, Ancient Near Eastern customs and laws authorized practices such as polygamy and slavery!  Nowadays, we would not accept these practices as they are seen as unethical and controversial, leading to the Bible’s misunderstanding.

Language Barriers

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Many modern translations of the Bible make its contents easier to understand. However, the meaning can be skewed with these translations, as the original texts are in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. These texts are not easily accessible to all and can, therefore, be difficult to understand.

Symbolism in Gospels

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Symbolism is often featured in the Bible gospels, where readers are required to read between the lines. In general, this can lead to misunderstanding, as symbolic language requires interpretation. However, Forbes‘ report that only half of U.S. adults know one of the four Gospels makes this even more of a problem.

Literary Genres

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The Bible is not as straightforward as it might seem, meaning it can be misunderstood today. The problem is it contains different genres, such as poetry and prophecy, leading many modern readers to be unable to fully grasp the meaning of poetic and metaphorical language, resulting in confusion.

Historical Context

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Time has moved on since the Bible was written, meaning that there is a clash between the historical context of then and now. As modern readers, we may find it difficult to fully understand the historical backdrop of the Bible, failing to relate their events and customs to modern experiences.

Selective Reading

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Failing to read all of the Bible, reading selectively, or not contextualizing Bible verses can lead to its contents being misunderstood. Many readers will pick out certain verses to support their views without actually understanding the context of the Bible or reading other stories, which is an ancient form of confirmation bias!

Theological Biases

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Speaking of confirmation bias, everyone who reads the Bible does so with a set of pre-existing beliefs that shape how we interpret texts. According to our circumstances and religious beliefs, we can take different lessons from the Bible. These selective interpretations can lead to misunderstandings.

Social Evolution

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Social norms have evolved since biblical times, leading to a series of misunderstandings. The BBC agrees that Jesus’ teachings are out of date because society has changed a lot in 2000 years, leading to modern ethics colliding with older beliefs that we are unwilling to accept.

Interpreting the Bible Literally

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The pioneers of the early Church frequently employed symbolic methods to decipher biblical texts, but in the modern era, readers are more inclined to take things literally. Therefore, by paying attention to the literal meaning, they cannot fully grasp the symbolic meanings within the Bible, which, as we already mentioned, are undeniably confusing!


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Writings with prophetic themes can be seen as predicting modern events, but in many cases, these Biblical stories were relational to the events at the time. The modern reader may misunderstand the Bible when they try to apply every archaic prophecy to their modern world, so always keep context in mind!

Canonical Variations

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While the Bible contains a variety of stories and verses that tell us about Jesus’ life or inform us about how to live ours, different Christian traditions have varying biblical canons. This means that some texts may be missing from some Bibles, leading to readers’ misunderstandings.

Scientific Advances

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According to The Washington Post, science and religion are incompatible, and you must choose between them. This is because modern scientific knowledge sometimes conflicts with biblical accounts; as people become more scientifically informed, they cannot understand some Bible stories, such as the creation story.

Missing Texts

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Biblical teachings can stand on their own because the Bible is so long, but many ancient texts were not included despite their ability to help people understand it better. These texts can give background to the stories of the Bible, and without them, the Bible is easy to misunderstand.

Doctrinal Development

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Doctrines have developed over the years, influencing biblical interpretation. As these doctrines do not stagnate, the gap between the Bible and modern doctrines begins to widen. This means that we often cannot fully understand the rules and regulations enforced when the Bible was originally written.

Modern Hermeneutics

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Today’s interpretive methods differ greatly from those of ancient times. Modern hermeneutics emphasizes historical-critical approaches, which can be difficult to do as we don’t know a lot about Biblical times. Using these contemporary techniques often reveals a wide range of insights, but not everyone knows how to do it.

Ethical Issues

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As Business Insider predicts, around 106 million Christians are expected to switch affiliation from 2010 to 2050, partially due to misunderstanding the religion. This is because ethical dilemmas in the Bible, such as violence, challenge modern readers, as we are unwilling to accept ancient moral standards.

Questioning the Bible’s Legitimacy

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People commonly argue about whether everything in the Bible is true, which can alter understanding. Some people take every word in the Bible literally, while others don’t. The contrasting viewpoints of literalists and non-literalists result in varied interpretations, leading some literalists to condemn the book’s legitimacy.

End Times

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Finally, hints in the Bible about the end of the world can be misunderstood when viewed through a modern lens; misinterpretation arises from trying to fit ancient texts into contemporary scenarios, so don’t try to match up every word. Sadly, not considering this can lead to heaps of Biblical misunderstandings. Take it with a pinch of salt!

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