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CMIN 301 (Sp '17) T06 - Preaching the Meaning in Their Town (Part 2)

The historical/cultural context and the literary context
by

Hartmut Scherer

on 27 January 2017

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Transcript of CMIN 301 (Sp '17) T06 - Preaching the Meaning in Their Town (Part 2)

Introduction
(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
window
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?
Geographical
Concerning the biblical
writer
, we will ask:
Concerning the biblical
audience
, we will ask:
Other
background
elements
to focus on:
Conclusion
Studying historical-cultural context . . .
http://www.truthnet.org/Bible-Origins/2_History_Bible/Books_of_the%20Bible_2a.jpg
. . . 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
The Literary Context
(Adapted from Zondervan Academic Resources for "Grasping God's Word)
Introduction
Two major kinds of context:
What is literary genre?
We encounter different literary genres in everyday life:
Newspaper
Telephone book
Menu
Devotional book
Forms of literature in the Bible:
Old Testament
To understand what the biblical authors are saying (and what God is saying through them), we must “play by the rules” of the genre game they selected.
1
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?
Social
Religious
Political
Economic
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.
Genre means “form” or “kind.”
Poem
Love letter
Math textbook
Map
Narrative
Law
Poetry
Prophecy
Wisdom
New Testament
Gospel
Theological History
Letter
Prophetic-Apocalyptic
Literary genre is like a game with its own set of rules
Context of a passage
Danger of disregarding the literary context
Any passage that surrounds your passage (text)
Give the highest priority to
immediate
context
We can make the Bible say anything we want
Two common ways:
1) By ripping single verses out of their
surrounding context
2) By stringing together unrelated thoughts
from different books of the Bible
When we ignore the context, we can twist the Scriptures and “prove” almost anything.
Understanding context is crucial to hearing what God has to say.
Context determines meaning
The most important guideline for interpreting the Bible:
a)
Historical-cultural context
(or “background”)
b)
Literary context
Surrounding context – words, sentences, and
paragraphs
Literary genre – form or type of literature
Identify the literary context
The Bible is more than a collection of unrelated parts.
The parts (words, sentences, paragraphs) connect to form whole discourses and books.
Goal
See how an author’s thought flows through each part to form the whole.
Three principles of interpretation:
Each statement must be understood according to its natural meaning in the literal context in which it occurs.
A text without a context may be a pretext.
The smaller the passage being studied, the greater the chance of error.
2
3
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
Background information - how much?
Only mention those things that clearly help communicate the biblical truth to your specific audience.
Keep the data simple, brief and connected to the sermon theme.
Always keep the focus of the sermon on “our town.”
a) Literary context
b) Historical-cultural context (or “background”)
c) word meanings
d) grammatical relationships
e) literary genre
1) What is the complete unit of thought for the
following verses?

A Complete Unit of Thought
(class activity)

- Mark 10:21
- Acts 2:42
- John 5:8
- Romans 12:21
- Rev. 3:20
Mark 10:17-31
complete unit of thought
Acts 2:42-47
John 5:1-17
Romans 12:9-21
Rev. 3:14-22
1) What kind of cultural/historical information
might you include in a sermon to help your
listeners understand . . .

Historical Cultural Context
(class activity)

Ezra 1
Psalm 51
Isaiah 7:10-25
Habbakuk 1:12-17
1 Corinthians 8
1) What is the main topic that Luke
10:38-42 deals with?

Luke 10:38-42 Theological principle
2) What is Luke 10:38-42 telling us about the
main topic?
Full transcript