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.
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. […]
One prominent image that recurs from Genesis to Revelation is that of living water. In the Middle East, water is scarce and precious, and very much needed for survival.
The “deeper magic” of Narnia—the idea that the sins of one person can be forgiven because of another person’s sacrifice—is a fundamental precept of Christianity. You might think this was something that the New Testament invented. But Jewish scholars find this idea in subtle nuances of the Torah that Christians rarely read.
The Bible doesn’t try very hard to answer our philosophical questions. In Genesis, where is the proof for God’s existence? What are his origins? Why isn’t God explained theologically? Knowledge of God in the Scriptures comes from personal encounter, not through human reasoning.
The modern Western worldview is far from the norm compared to the rest of the world. Could it be that our culture’s “uniqueness” also prevents us from understanding our Bibles?
When we read our Bibles, we usually assume that the women of the Bible had few options. Relative to men, they always got the low end of the stick on everything. Is that really true though? Believe it or not, women in the Bible actually did have one advantage over men, and it explains some […]
Many of us are frustrated by why no one seems to be able to come up with one perfect English Bible translation. Why are there so many versions? Why can’t we just have one final, best English translation? A major reason is because of one aspect of language that most of us don’t appreciate. When […]