All in Cultural Background
I love visiting this country for many reasons, but I would like to mention 4 and encourage you to take the trip if you get the opportunity. Let me tell you 4 reasons why you should consider doing so.
. . . to “get” what is going on as the gospels tell about the birth of Jesus, we need to read more carefully, folding a deeper hearing of the story into our experiences of Christmas.
. . . If I simply wear my “cultural glasses,” the way of looking at the world which has been crafted in my own cultural context, the teaching of Jesus can be skewed. I may not feel disoriented, since I am comfortable in my culture, but I may have a skewed vision of what Jesus is saying, missing aspects of his powerful, culture-bending message.
Let's be honest. Certain parts of the Old Testament can seem just plain weird, "recurringly odd and unaccommodating," as Mark Coleridge puts it. And no part of the Old Testament seems more foreign than those sections that detail God's laws for Israel.
In a post last week, I mentioned a bit of “cultural background” behind the story of David and Goliath, noting that David’s sling was not child’s toy but rather a serious weapon. I wrote that sling stones could be 3+ inches in diameter, the size of a peach or even a baseball, and could travel over 100 miles per hour—serious weapon indeed. Through the years I have found that understanding aspects of cultural background can shed great light on passages in the Bible.
The question is, how can we get at reliable information on the cultural background behind Scripture? Let me mention three categories of “power tools” to consider for your Bible reading and study.