How Cultural Context Makes Bible Stories Come Alive

When I read the New Testament, sometimes I feel like a director who has just been handed an unfinished screenplay. The dialogue and descriptions are scarce. The characters are doing things that don’t make sense. The story isn’t cohesive. The ending is bizarre.

In these moments of confusion, I’ve found that studying the cultural context of what I’m reading is vital. What was going on in that moment in history, and how did that culture differ from ours? Understanding context gives you the ability to imagine what life was like for early Christians—how their families operated, how their friends and neighbors treated them, what they hoped for, what they feared, and how they coped when life got hard. It creates empathy and makes the characters and narrative come alive. Suddenly the screenplay starts to make sense and you begin to realize how amazing God’s story really is.

The cultural context in 1 Peter

In this clip from NT201 The Cultural World of the New Testament, Dr. David deSilva helps us understand the cultural context of 1 Peter and the challenges faced by the early Christians living in Rome.

Earn a graduate diploma in New Testament

Dr. deSilva’s Mobile Ed courseware is included in Ashland’s new online Graduate Diploma in New Testament program. This enables students to learn remotely and earn graduate-level credit they can use toward a master’s degree.

The program consists of five master’s-level courses incorporating presentations by Ashland faculty, group discussions, webinars, course readings, and assessments, while also utilizing Mobile Ed courseware and the Logos Bible Software Gold base package.

The courses focus on engaging the texts and contexts of Scripture, developing a solid foundation in New Testament studies, and encountering the words behind our English translations. Students will also have the opportunity to explore specific topics of interest by choosing courses from a list of electives.

Register Today

The Graduate Diploma in New Testament program begins October 3, 2015. Visit Ashland’s website to learn more and register today!

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Written by
Ryan Rotz

Ryan Rotz is a web developer and marketing strategist living in the Seattle area.

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Written by Ryan Rotz