One of the big hurdles in preaching is bridging the cultural gap between our present setting and the society in which the NT documents were composed. It gets even harder when you realize there is actually more than one gap. Take the Apostle Paul for example. He was born in one of the Hellenistic Greek cultural centers, Tarsus. Let’s not forget that he was also a Roman citizen, which adds to the complexity. Acts 22:3 tells us that he was educated under Gamaliel as a strict Pharisee, adding yet another Jewish dimension to the picture. Is there any hope for properly unpacking the cultural baggage which underlies Scripture?
Ben Witherington and David deSilva have devoted much of their academic careers to addressing these issues, leading to the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series (8 Vols.). This eight volume set is enables you to successfully navigate these complexities by identifying the relevant cultural or rhetorical features in a given context. Each volume begins with a series of articles orienting you to key factors that shaped writer’s conception of the world. The balance of the book guides you through each passage, highlighting socio-rhetorical facets critical to soundly exegeting the passage.
Although the cultural divide can seem unwieldy, the Socio-Rhetorical Commentary Series is a great resource for bridging the gap. Although Witherington and deSilva are noted experts, their insights are delivered in clear, accessible language. Whether you are a seasoned expert or just jumping into these issues for the first time, I’d highly recommend adding this collection to your library.