Seeing how other cultures think can be quite helpful for understanding the Bible. Dieting and weight gain are particularly interesting topics to explore.
The refreshment of Sabbath was primarily intended for the ones who could not rest without the permission of others. Sabbath was not just about religious observance, but about social justice.
All sorts of connections fall into place when you start to grasp the Bible’s communal cultural setting.
A family’s public reputation, their “name,” was of critical importance in their communal society. Knowing this helps us decode a much misunderstood word in our Bibles, the Hebrew word shem, which overlaps with the English word “name” but is actually much broader.
When God called Moses up to Mt. Sinai, what he said, literally, was “Come up to me on the mountain and be here…” Why? Because it’s possible for a person to expend a great deal of energy getting to a destination, yet arrive there with head and thoughts somewhere else entirely.
We assume that as the centuries go by, we’re growing more intellectually sophisticated. But modernity has actually dulled our senses to a reality that biblical peoples had no problems experiencing.
To understand your Bible you need to grasp the assumptions of its cultural world. Sometimes glimpsing its alternative point of view can even put our own reality into perspective. For instance, in the Ancient Near East, advanced age was not seen as something to be avoided. Aging was seen a source of honor and dignity. […]
Once upon a time there was an old pastor who had served the Lord faithfully all of his life. He had an anointed ministry, and his prayers were always effective. Whenever he prayed for the sick, they were healed. But in spite of his powerful ministry, he was extremely poor, and he and his wife […]
As we read the story of Passion week, we often bump into scenes that don’t quite make sense. A few pieces of historical data can shed a lot of light on this story.
The people who called for Jesus’ crucifixion were not the same crowd as those who hailed him as Messiah. Those who taunted him were corrupt priests and Roman soldiers. Jesus was as popular with the masses at his death as he was at his triumphal entry.