When we talk about the context of Scripture there are several things that need to be considered. One is what is behind the text.
This is where the question of cultural context is found. Many people argue that considering cultural context is nothing more than an effort to dismiss what the Bible teaches. This is a Myth. When done correctly it is the opposite.
The authors of the texts that make up Scripture had reasons for writing what they did. They had lives, and lived at specific times in history and just like you come to the reading and study of the text with your filter, they had their filter.
All of the questions that we asked in trying to understand your filter in front of the text are valid questions for making about the authors and what was behind the text.
Where did they live? When did they live? Were they male? Female? Do we know?
Where they a prophet or a historian? Were they David the shepherd boy turned rebel leader turned king? Were they Solomon the prince born to the woman David took possession of through adultery and plotting murder of her husband?
Did they know the people they were writing about or did they get their information from records? Were they writing their own letters? Or was someone transcribing for them?
There are a lot of Christian Myths about things found in the Old Testament. These are things that lots of Christians have been taught about ancient Israel — who they were, how they lived, and what they believed — that just don’t hold up to study of ancient Israel or the archaeological evidence.
There are Christian Myths about the New Testament too.
Many of these will be explored at Thomas Talks and feel free to ask questions about things you’ve learned so we can all consider where those ideas come from and whether or not they are supported by evidence.
All of Scripture comes from someone and somewhere. It was written to real people who lived at a particular time and understood the text through their filter. When they were the originally intended audience it is helpful to try and understood who they were, what they were facing, why the information was sent to them and what they understood it to mean.
Many approaches to Scripture elevate the text, the person in front of the text or everything behind the text. Sound study considers these things in tandem. When all of these things are looked at and considered we have a hope of recognizing our own blind spots and filters and working to engage the text for what it’s really saying and not just what we read into it. There is a place for what it is saying to us as we read it, but this is never adequate for determining doctrine or arguing that the Bible says something.
Sound study will look to the original language and the meaning of words or phrases and ask why something was said this way instead of another way. Why that word instead of a different one? It is also important to consider the original audience reading it and why they received it which will help us distinguish between eternal Truths that are being conveyed and the cultural context in which they are being conveyed.
When the goal is sound study and sound doctrine the questions surrounding the text, who and what is in front of the text and behind the text become very important. When you encounter questionable doctrines it can help you to determine which of these things was elevated above the others in order to reconsider the real message in the text.