atheists don’t understand what they are reading.
Actually they do. The problem is the same core problem of theology. Theologians and all religious people always interpret their holy writings in a way that supports their beliefs. No matter how negative, bad, or evil a passage may be, it will be twisted and turned until a way is found to interpret it in a positive light. Somehow an explanation is always found, no matter how much of a stretch is necessary to reach it and how ostensibly it contradicts the obvious meaning of the text.
Atheists are not bound by this urge, need, and desire to whitewash, smooth, and transfigure the primary meanings of scripture. They can take it at face value and call a spade a spade without upsetting their brethren or making a “faith” unpleasant to adhere to. Yes, God murdered children. Yes, a rape victim must marry her rapist. Yes, yes, yes to all the nasty things in the Bible.
Atheists don’t understand what they are reading? Sure they do, they just don’t cover it with whipped cream and a cherry and call it God’s mercy.
Interestingly enough, young earth creationists and atheists will interpret Genesis in the same way: the Bible states clearly that God created the earth (universe, etc.) in six 24 hour periods. Basta. The only difference is that atheists don’t believe it happened.