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.
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 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.
As I research my next book, I’ve been reading up on Jesus’ Hebraic, Jewish culture and how it contrasts with the Western culture in which we live. I keep bumping into great books I haven’t seen before. I thought I’d share a couple that are free to read or download because they are out of […]
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?
I’m always fascinated by the question of what we need to know, culturally, to understand our Bibles better. So I enjoyed the essay at this link by James Kugel, a Jewish biblical scholar, about a fundamental disconnect between the worldview of the Bible and of our Western world today. It’s from an essay on Psalm […]
It’s Father’s Day and articles fill the internet about men who defied the masculine stereotype of being tough, distant workaholics. Changing diapers. Working at home. The world is a very different place nowadays than it was a few decades ago. The last place that many would look for inspiration for modern fatherhood is the Old […]
The idea that emotions are irrational and unnatural arose from Greco-Roman philosophy and has influenced Western theology for thousands of years, giving rise to the idea that God is “impassible,” emotionless. Many of our problems with God come from this unbiblical idea.
At this time of year, people everywhere are setting up nativity scenes. We’re used to having an odd mixture of characters around the manger — some scruffy shepherds, some glittering angels, a few animals, and of course a brand new little family. To many of us, the characters that are oddest are the magi, or […]