3: Historical-Cultural Context Flashcards Preview

New Testament Exegesis > 3: Historical-Cultural Context > Flashcards

Flashcards in 3: Historical-Cultural Context Deck (20)
Loading flashcards...

Why is a historical-cultural analysis necessary?

To make sure we understand the message through the cultural framework of the original hearers.


What is the exegete searching for in his historical-cultural analysis?

  1. The meaning of the original text
  2. The contemporary application

One can only have a faithful contemporary application when the original historical context helps us understand the principle.


What is the ladder of abstraction?

A tool that serves to bridge the gap between the original situation addressed in the Bible and the situations we have today.

  1. First Century World Situation: Christians can eat food sacrificed to idols, but there are qualifications.
  2. Abstract principle: Christians should live in liberty but must avoid Christian freedom where it might induce other Christians to sin
  3. Contemporary World Situation: Christians can drink alcohol in moderation, but there are qualifications


What are the components of the historical-cultural analysis?

  1. Historical Context Analysis
  2. Cultural Analysis (also called Social Scientific Analysis)


In what consists the Historical Context Analysis?

  • History behind the text (diachronic, throughout time)
  • Examples: date, author, recipients, historical events that afftected the writing


In what consist the Social Scientific Analysis?

  • History at the same time as the text (synchronic, within time)
  • Examples: implicit cultural values, social relationships, religious and political systems


What are two ways in which you can use the Bible to gain historical context information?

  1. If possible, read in one sitting the entire biblical book
    • This way, historical features earlier or later than the passage may be noticed
  2. Study parallel or complementary passages
    • What is implicit in one Gospel might be explicit in another
    • Acts & Paul's letters


What other Ancient Material can we use to gain historical context information?

  1. Primary Jewish Sources
  2. Primary Greco-Roman Sources


What are some Primary Jewish Sources?

  1. Josephus
    • Jewish historian
  2. Philo
    • first-century Jewish philosopher who intermingled Jewish and Greek concepts
  3. Dead Sea Scrolls
    • understanding the Essene sect
    • reconstructing what was happening in the temple before and during Jesus time
    • confirm the Jewishness of some details in the NT
  4. Old Testament Apocrypha
    • valuable testimony to Judaism from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD
  5. Pseudopigrapha
    • history and religious development in the intertestamental period
  6. Septuagint
    • to consult the passages that NT writings quote


What are some books of the Old Testament Apocrypha?

  1. 1 Esdras
    • tells the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon
  2. 1 & 2 Maccabees
    • Jewish resistance to empire-wide Hellenization
    • Jewish liberation movement to take back Israel from the Syrians
  3. Wisdom of Sirach
  4. Wisdom of Solomon


Why are the books from the OT Apocrypha important?

  1. Authors of Scripture show familiarity with these writings
  2. Fundamental in shaping the community of early Christians - to understand the canon more deeply


What are some Primary Greco-Roman sources?

  1. Suetonius - 1st century historian
  2. Tacitus - 1st century historian
  3. Epictetus
  4. Seneca
  5. Plutarch


What are some questions for the Historical-context analysis of a specific book?


  1. Who is the author?
  2. Where does the book fit into the life of the author?
  3. What are the author's circumstances while writing?
  4. How is the relationship between the author and the recipients best characterized?


  1. Who is the audience?
  2. What can be said about its ethnic makeup, age, economic situation, gender, social status, etc.?
  3. What are the key problems they are facing?


What features of New testament texts potentially merit historical background study?

  1. Worldview
    • values, mindset, outlook of the writer or recipient
  2. Societal Structures
    • marriage and family patterns, gender roles, racial issues
  3. Physical Features
    • weather, buildings, transportation
  4. Economic Structures
    • means of earning a living, wealth and poverty, slavery
  5. Political Climate
    • structures, loyalties, personnel
  6. Behavior Patterns
    • dress, customs
  7. Religious Practices
    • implicit power centers and explicit convictions
    • rituals
    • affiliations


What is the definition of Social-Scientific Criticism?

Branch interested in social and cultural systems implicit in the writings of the New Testament.


What does Social-Scientific Criticism asks?

  • how and why the text was designed to function
  • how it might have impacted its recipients and author in light of the social, economic, political, and cultural surroundings


What are the three methods for Practicing Social-Scientific Criticism?

  1. Social Description (Less Speculative)
  2. Sociological Clarification (Mid-Speculative)
  3. Sociological Analysis (Most Speculative)


Explain the Social Description Method

interested in the pervasive sociological and cultural values of the New Testament world

  • i.e., sociological factors such as group loyalty, the institution of patronage



Explain the Sociological Clarification Method

Looks at the phenomena in the NT and attempts to explain it in light of other known phenomena throughout history

  • i.e., the study of societies throughout history that demonstrate the same socio-economic stratification as that of the first-century world.


Explain the Sociological Analysis Method

Takes a theoretical model that is not supported in any culture or society with significant parallels to the NT and applies it to biblical phenomena

  • i.e., application of Marxist economis to first-century world (spurious),
  • appeal to rabbinic models of memorizing Scripture (beneficial)