Last week, I started talking about context. Check that blog out here.
Last time I wrote a blog on context, I talked about how there are several different kinds of contexts that we have to keep in mind when it comes to Scripture. Not all of the kinds of context are as relevant as the others in regards to how we read the Bible, so I’m going to focus on the most important ones, and then brush over the other ones for your personal knowledge.
I covered symbolic and relational contexts before, so let’s look at a new kind of context: cultural context. Cultures are very different and diverse now, but can you imagine comparing American culture today to different cultures in Scripture? You have different locations, time periods, languages– just a lot of things are different. The way things were communicated and understood in that culture might be understood and communicated in the same way today, or they might not at all. For example, if you were a rabbi’s disciple, you were supposed to follow him very closely. In a Biblical culture, if a person said to a disciple, “How dusty are you?” or something to that effect, the disciple would know the question meant “Are you following your rabbi so closely that you can be covered in the dust of his feet? Are you following in his footsteps the way you should be?”. If I said that to a Christian here in North Carolina, however, I have a feeling I’d probably get an answer like, “Well, I showered, so not very” or “What kind of a question is that? What do you mean?”.
In other words, to fully understand the context of a situation, we need to know about the culture. Cultures dictate how people talk, carry themselves, and interact with others a lot of the time, so we need to understand cultural norms to get the full meaning and impact of what is going on in a situation.