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BIBL 102 (Sp '15) T07 - The Historical-Cultural Context

The historical/cultural context and the literary context

Hartmut Scherer

on 25 February 2015

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Transcript of BIBL 102 (Sp '15) T07 - The Historical-Cultural Context

(Adapted from Zondervan Academic Resources for "Grasping God's Word)
The Historical-Cultural Context
Why bother with historical-cultural context?
We must listen to God’s message (or interpret) in a way that honors how God chose to communicate.
Historical-cultural context gives us a
into God’s original meaning as reflected in the text.
We must determine what a text meant in “their town” before we can determine what it means and how we should apply it in “our town.”
Why was he writing?
What is historical-cultural context?
What was happening at the time the book was written?
Concerning the biblical
, we will ask:
Concerning the biblical
, we will ask:
to focus on:
Studying historical-cultural context . . .
. . . can be tedious.
. . . can make the passage explode with
relevance—sometimes more than
we can take.
. . . is only a tool to help us grasp
God’s Word
To grasp God’s Word, we must understand the meaning of the text which involves 5 essential items
Who was the author?
What was his background?
When did he write?
What was the nature of his ministry?
What kind of relationship did he have with his audience?
Who was the biblical audience?
What were their circumstances?
How was their relationship to God?
What kind of relationship did they have with each other?
God did not choose to speak directly to everybody at all times and all cultures.
God chose to speak through the human writers of Scripture to address the real-life needs of people at particular times in a particular culture.
We study the historical-cultural context to see what God was saying to the biblical audience.
This time-bound message contains eternally relevant theological principles that we can discover and apply to our lives.
Once we understand the meaning of the text in its original context, we can apply that meaning to our lives in ways that will be just as relevant.
Guiding principle: For our interpretation of any biblical text to be valid, it must be consistent with the historical-cultural context of that text.
a) Not studying historical-cultural context at all
Dangers associated with studying background
b) Getting bad information
c) Focusing on background matters to the neglect
of meaning and application
a) Literary context
b) Historical-cultural context (or “background”)
c) word meanings
d) grammatical relationships
e) literary genre
a) good commentaries
Sources for historical/cultural background
b) OT or NT introductions
c) dictionaries and encyclopedias
d) archeological works and atlases
e) books on OT or NT theology
f) books on customs and culture
Full transcript