“What exactly do we mean by historical-cultural context? Generally speaking, this kind of context involves the biblical writer, the biblical audience, and any historical-cultural elements touched on by the passage itself”pg 199″Historical-cultural context relates to just about anything outside the text that will help you understand the text itself”pg 199
Eternal Principles …
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“God has given us eternal principles in his Word that apply to every person of every age in every culture. Our goal in Grasping God’s Word is to teach you how to discover and live out those theological principles. ” pg 197
Who is the message to? … Ch 6
“The truth of the matter is that each passage of Scripture was “God’s Word to other people before it became God’s Word to us.” (Klein & Blomberg Intro to Biblical Interpretation)God also cares deeply about us and wants to speak to us.
The time-bound message of Scripture contains eternally relevant principles that we can discover and live out.”pg 198
Historical-cultural elements include ..
. CH 6
language, historical setting, social dynamics, geography, religions, political and economic influences pg 208
Why bother to become familiar with the original historical-cultural context? … CH 6
“We do so because it offers us a window into what God was saying to the biblical audience.” pg 198See diagram pg 198″Once we understand the meaning of the text in its original context, we can apply it to our lives in ways that will be just as relevant.
” pg 198
crucial interpretive principle … CH 6
“For our interpretation of any biblical text to be valid, it must be consistent with the historical-cultural context of that text.”pg 199″Fee and Stuart rightly emphasize that “the true meaning of the biblical text for us is what God originally intended it to mean when it was first spoken.”pg 199
“the most important thing to know about the biblical writers is why they are writing.” ..
. CH 6
“The answer lies in the writer’s purpose. The Chronicler (perhaps Ezra) is writing for Israel after the exile (i.e., for the restored community). He is trying to show that God is still very much interested in his people after judging them by the exile. “pg 202
What about the writer? .
.. CH 6
“What is the writer’s background? Where does he come from? When does he write? What kind of ministry does he have? What is his relationship with the people he addresses? Finally, why is he writing? Answers to these kinds of questions will give you insight into the circumstances of the biblical writer and clarify the meaning of what he has written.”pg 240
“Discovering the historical-cultural context also involves knowing something about the biblical audience and their circumstances.” .
.. CH 6
Who are they? Why are they the audience?pg 239
Other historical elements …
“Often you will focus more on the historical, social, geographical, religious, political, and economic elements that shape your passage. “pg 208
“Dangers Associated with Studying Background” …
“you need to watch out for inaccurate background information.”pg 210″A second danger associated with studying historical-cultural context is that of elevating the background of the text above the meaning of the text.”pg 211″Finally, we caution you not to let yourself slowly evolve into nothing more than a walking database of ancient facts. Don’t lose your interpretive heart in your quest for information to deepen your understanding of the text.”pg 212″In spite of these three dangers, however, the greatest danger by far is assuming that we do not need to know any background information to understand the Bible.”pg 212
“Historical-Cultural Context of the Entire Book” …
“The following questions will help you get started: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 the audience?Why was he writing?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?What was happening at the time the book was written?Are there any other historical-cultural factors that might shed light on the book?”pg 213
Tools … CH 6
pg 214-238Bible HandbooksOT & NT Introductions and SurveysCommentariesBible AtlasBible Dictionaries and EncyclopediasOT & NT HistoriesSpecial Studies in Ancient Life and CultureComputer Software and the Internet
Pre-understanding … CH 7
Pre-text influences pg 240″Preunderstanding refers to all of our preconceived notions and understandings that we bring to the text, which have been formulated, both consciously and subconsciously, before we actually study the text in detail.”pg 245″Preunderstanding is formed by both good and bad influences, some accurate and some inaccurate.
“pg 245″Another dangerous aspect of preunderstanding surfaces when we come to the text with a theological agenda already formulated.”pg 246″A related danger is that of familiarity. If we are thoroughly familiar with a passage, we tend to think that we know all there is to know about it and are prone to skip over it without studying it carefully.”pg 246″Preunderstanding, including culture, is not inherently bad, but it can often skew our understanding of the Bible and lead us down the trail of misinterpretation.”pg 256″Never should we allow our culture to dictate the meaning of the Word of God.”pg 255
.. CH 7
“Vanhoozer labels this attitude as pride. This kind of pride, he writes, “encourages us to think that we have got the correct meaning before we have made the appropriate effort to recover it. Pride does not listen. It knows.”2″Pg 246″Vanhoozer humorously labels this as “overstanding” and not “understanding.”3 That is, we as readers stand over the Word of God and determine what it means, rather than placing ourselves under that Word, seeking diligently to determine what God means in the text.
Foundational Beliefs … CH 7
“Foundational beliefs, by contrast, do not change with each reading. They are not related to particular passages but to our overall view of the Bible.Striving for objectivity in biblical interpretation does not mean abandoning faith or trying to adopt the methods of unbelievers.”pg 257
Relationship with God .
.. CH 7
“The relationship we have with God is a critical aspect of the communication that we have with him through reading his Word. This relationship impacts us greatly as we interpret, and it is not something we want to renegotiate as we read each text, such as we do with preunderstanding aspects.
Core Foundational Beliefs … CH 7
“Several foundational beliefs about the Scriptures that evangelical Christians generally hold are as follows:1. The Bible is the Word of God. Although God worked through people to produce it, it is nonetheless inspired by the Holy Spirit and is God’s Word to us.2.
The Bible is trustworthy and true.3. God has entered into human history; thus the supernatural (miracles, etc.) does occur.4. The Bible is not contradictory; it is unified, yet diverse.
Nevertheless, God is bigger than we are, and he is not always easy to comprehend. Thus the Bible also has tension and mystery to it.”pg 257
Conclusion … CH 7
“Many writers have pointed out that total objectivity in interpretation is impossible, and we acknowledge this.
However, total objectivity is not our goal. As Christians who have an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are not striving for a neutral, objective viewpoint. We do not seek to be secular historians as we study the text (they are not objective either). We seek to hear what God has to say to us. Thus we approach the text through faith and in the Spirit (see ch. 12). So we want objectivity within the framework of evangelical foundational beliefs like those listed above. This type of objectivity has to do with preventing our preunderstanding, our culture, our familiarity, or our laziness from obscuring the meaning that God has intended for us in the text.
Literary Context … CH 8
“Without a context, words become meaningless.”pg 263″When it comes to interpreting and applying the Bible, context is crucial.
In fact, we would go so far as to say that the most important principle of biblical interpretation is that context determines meaning.”pg 263″By honoring the context of Scripture, we are saying that we would rather hear what God has to say than put words in his mouth. Context determines meaning!”pg 264″Literary context relates to the particular form a passage takes (the literary genre) and to the words, sentences, and paragraphs that surround the passage you are studying (the surrounding context).”pg 264-265
2 Kinds of Context … CH 8
Literary genre ..
. CH 8
“the expression literary genre simply refers to the different categories or types of literature found in the Bible. In the Old Testament you will encounter narrative, law, poetry, prophecy, and wisdom. The New Testament forms include gospel, history, letter, and apocalyptic literature. Both Old and New Testaments feature a number of subgenres (e.g., parables, riddles, sermons).
“pg 265″In a similar way, there are different “game” rules involved in the interpretation of the different kinds of biblical literature. The author has “played his game,” that is, has sought to convey his meaning, under the rules covering the particular literary form he has used.”pg 266″literary genre acts as a kind of covenant of communication, a fixed agreement between author and reader about how to communicate.” Sire, Scripture Twistingpg 267″In order for us to “keep the covenant,” we must let the author’s choice of genre determine the rules we use to understand his or her words.
“pg 267″the various genres evoke certain interpretive expectations on the part of the reader. The genre game determines the rules for interpretation.”pg 267
“Surrounding context simply refers to the texts that surround the passage you are studying.
“pg 268See Diagram on page 269″The immediate context circle is closest to the center since it describes what comes immediately before and after your passage.”pg 269
Dangers of Disregarding Literary Context … CH 8
“You have probably heard it said that you can make the Bible say anything you want. That is true only if you disregard the literary context. When you honor the literary context (including the covenant of communication implicit in the genre), you cannot make the Bible say just anything.
Topical Preaching … CH 8
“Topical preaching is a valid approach to preaching when the various passages are understood in context and the overall message doesn’t violate those individual contexts.”pg 274″Quoting Bible passages out of context may make for an entertaining sermon, but it will mask God’s true message. Misreading the Bible ultimately hurts people by enslaving them rather than setting them free with truth.
Identifying surrounding text …
“The Bible is more than a collection of unrelated parts. The Holy Spirit moved the biblical writers to connect their words, sentences, and paragraphs into a literary whole in the normal way that people use language to communicate.”pg 276″When we ask you to identify the surrounding context, we are asking you to see how these sentences (the parts) fit together in a book to communicate the larger message (the whole). We cannot read the author’s mind, but we can trace his thought as it flows through each sentence and paragraph to form the whole book.
Identifying surrounding text 3 Steps … CH 8
1) Identify how the book is divided into paragraphs or sections. 2) Summarize the main idea of each section.
3) Explain how your particular passage relates to the surrounding sections.pg 281-285
Conclusion … CH 8
We study literary context because the interpretation that best fits the context is the most valid interpretation. When we disregard literary context, we run the risk of forcing the Bible to say what we want it to say.
This may appear to satisfy people’s immediate needs, but ultimately, this approach hurts people by robbing them of God’s liberating truth.pg 285