Cultural Concepts leverages a brand-new dataset that’s the first of its kind in the world of biblical studies. Before this tool existed, you’d have to manually identify connections between the biblical text and extrabiblical literature that provided additional background and explanation on that passage’s cultural context.
But with Cultural Concepts, those connections are already established for you.
How to access Cultural Concepts
There are two primary ways to use this tool in your studies. The first way you can access Cultural Concepts is through the Passage Guide—this is the best approach when you’re preparing a sermon or Bible study lesson on a specific passage. The Passage Guide links to Factbook entries for each cultural concept—just navigate to the Cultural Concepts section in the Factbook, and you’ll get links to ancient literature, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and more. The second way is to simply right click any cultural concept right within your Bible’s text. If a cultural concept is tagged, it will show up in your context menu, and you can click on it to open its Factbook entry for further exploration.
The importance of cultural context
David Witthoff, team lead for the dataset’s creation, explains how Cultural Concepts came about:
The project started with a goal to help users find relevant cultural material that may be related to a passage they are studying. We thought that having a sort of index where ‘marriage’ or ‘sacrifice’ occurred, we could help students of the Bible find other examples of similar practices. By bringing these connections to users, we offer a way to make comparisons and contrasts between the Bible and the ancient world . . .
It was also created because there isn’t really a way to search conceptually. You can find keywords through word searches, but we went a level higher than this with concepts because the same words aren’t always used in relation to one concept.
Identifying the meaning behind cultural concepts helps you understand the biblical world in its ancient context. This tool delivers relevant cultural information from a world so different from ours today; it helps us develop a fuller, more comprehensive interpretation so that we can apply our findings to our lives, guiding modern application of biblical texts.
To see how to use Cultural Concepts, check out this step-by-step video tutorial:
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