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.
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.
When I first read the Shema, the Jewish profession of faith, I assumed it was their Apostle’s Creed. I was shocked because I was looking for doctrines like the “communion of saints” and “forgiveness of sins,” not mundane realities like grass, fields and cows.
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 […]
Ken Bailey has written a number of fascinating books on Jesus in his Middle Eastern context. In his introduction to Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15 (Concordia, 1992), he explains a key difference between how Westerners think and communicate and how Jesus did. Westerners primarily communicate in concepts, but Middle Easterners communicate in […]
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 […]
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.
“Our father in heaven” doesn’t quite mean what you think.
In Walter Ong’s classic book Orality and Literacy, he shares a fascinating theory about why our modern Western culture thinks so differently than the way the Bible does. Eastern thinking, like what you find in the Old Testament, is very concrete and image-oriented, and it uses stories and parables to explain rather than abstract logic. […]