Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rubbish at Bible Study 14: The Book Background Method

As promised, here is the first of 2 new approaches. It makes sense to use this method first, so that as we start to read 1 Timothy, we already know something about its background.
After I've posted the outline of the next method, I'll list some starting point resources.
The Book Background Method: 
Chapter 8 in Rick.

To attempt to understand the backdrop of a book in its original context.

This involves investigating and understanding the history, geography, culture and politics of the time and place of writing.
It is key to accurate interpretation and application now, to understand the original meaning from the writer to the original intended audience, and then to identify the equivalent interpretation and application for now.

Specific example: e.g. Paul instructed women to wear head covering, and we tend to think this through by asking questions like these:

  • Do we instruct women now to have literal head covering in worship?
  • If not, what was the cultural meaning of head covering for women for at that time?
  • What is the reason for the instruction?
  • What is the equivalent application now?
  • See 1 Corinthians 11:3-16:

(NB: Even our 'best' interpretation now has to retain some humility, may be subject to change and reinterpretation over the years, and may contain an element of speculation.

In the example of head covering, most of Paul's instruction can be explained culturally, and applied into current cultural practice, but in one place he appeals outside of human culture, to angels [see v10] in a way that is difficult to understand or reinterpret.)

The Book Background Study method requires use of reference tools, Bible dictionary, commentary, atlas, handbook, etc. Much of this can be found online, starting with the tools suggested earlier.

I will try to post links to more tools you may find helpful as well.

I would suggest that this is an obvious area where as you find a helpful source, you could help everyone else by posting a comment with the link. This will save everyone time, and help us to pool our best discoveries.

So that we can help each other I will split the form into separate posts, and we can all work together on all the sections of this method, by sharing our thoughts and ideas.

1: Subject:
Book or area of study

2: Reference tools used:
List what is helpful as you find it

3: Geographical background:
What you have learned about the location or region by use of a Bible handbook, Atlas, or specific maps, e.g. of Paul's journeys

4: Historical background:
What you have found out about the history of the area, or the chronology of Biblical events and writing.

5: Cultural background:
What you have discovered about the religion, art, lifestyle, customs, and beliefs of that time.
These may be key elements of background to what is communicated in the book or passage.

6: Political background:

Information about power, government, Empire, etc

7: Summary of insights:
Impact on church at the time; how that relates to us now

8: Personal Application:
How do these themes relate to today's world, today's church, and you?

1 comment:

  1. GEOGRAPHY: Ephesus is about half way between Rome and Jerusalem; on the west coast of Asia Minor.Back in the day it was second only to Jerusalem in the league tables! Protected by the hills; rich and fertile land thanks to the river Cayster.A busy port for swapping stuff and ideas. 1/4 0f a million people gathered there back then.It was packed with the wierd and the wonderful and was right by one of the seven wonders of the ancient world... some pagan sex temple!!for the person who learns the hard way.... it was a fast tract to the pig pen ... ripe for the gospel!!!