Insistence on awareness of contemporary culture begs a crucial question. How can we apply the Bible to current cultures if we are ignorant of the ancient cultures from which the Bible originates? The text doesn’t mean today what it never meant then. As the publishers of BIBBC put it, We are far removed from the time and culture of the biblical world, and this distance easily leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Our understanding and appreciation of God’s Word increase exponentially when we know the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written.
Recently I sat down with Jonathan Greer and John Hilber to talk about Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament, a recent book they edited with John Walton. We spoke of the need for such a book, how it was put together, and who should read it. Greer, Hilber, and Walton rightly believe that we best understand the meaning of the Old Testament for the world today when we understand the world to which it was originally written.
When I began teaching, I never thought I would write a book on the Gospels and Acts. Back then it was all about Paul.