A Step-by-Step Guide to Studying the Bible’s Cultural Context

cultural context

Understanding the cultural context in which a biblical passage originally appeared is essential for correct interpretation. We must be careful not to interpret a passage through twenty-first century eyes. We, of course, apply the Bible to our modern setting, but we should also seek to discover what the original author and audience of a passage intended and understood the text to mean.

In order to help us grasp the cultural context of a passage Logos provides the feature, Cultural Concepts. Approximately 1,100 cultural practices, concepts, or subjects have been identified and tagged in the Bible. These cultural “topics” certainly appear in the Bible, but also in society or culture at large. The developers of the software also tagged selected resources in our library with these same concepts.

Thus when we’re studying a passage containing a Cultural Concept, we can easily discover where that subject appears elsewhere in Scripture, as well as in secondary literature, so we gain a better understanding of the idea in the ancient biblical world.

Let’s explore a specific example to see this feature in action.

Imagine we’re studying the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 and we come to verses 10-12 where Jesus speaks of rejoicing in persecution.

Perhaps we’re tempted to ask questions such as:

  • Were early Christ-followers actually persecuted?
  • If so, did they really obey Jesus’ admonition to rejoice?

Let’s use Cultural Concepts to help with the answers:

  • Choose Guides | Passage Guide
  • Place Matthew 5:10-12 in the reference box (A)
  • Press the Enter key to generate the report
  • Expand the Cultural Concepts section to reveal any concepts contained in the passage (B)

1.2

  • Click the Persecution link (C) to generate a Factbook report (D) for this Cultural Concept found in the passage

2.2

  • Expand the Cultural Concepts section in the Factbook (E) to reveal locations of this concept both in the Bible (F) and selected secondary literature (G)

3

  • Expand the hits for the Apostolic Fathers (H)
  • Click the hyperlinked hits in this resource (I) and enjoy and be challenge by what was said of the early Christ followers (J)

4.1

  • Do the same for the hit in Josephus (K)

5.2

I don’t know about you, but in this current day of increased persecution, I’m both encouraged and challenged by the example of our brothers and sisters in the Lord who have travelled this path before us.

For additional explanation of Cultural Concepts open the resource in your library called, Lexham Cultural Ontology: Dataset Documentation.

For more in depth training about this feature and many more in your software, check out the Logos 6 Training Manual Volumes 1 & 2 Bundle or consider attending a live Camp Logos seminar in Columbia, MD or Little Rock, AR.   
mopro
Morris Proctor is a certified trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.