Have you considered reading God’s Word through a different lens? Over the years, when reading scripture, my primary focus has been more on devotional aspects of study, centering on matters of the heart. This method of study refreshes my soul and surrounds me with such wonderful peace. However, this past year, I challenged myself to study the Bible from a cultural context perspective. With no road map to guide me, I put one foot in front of the other and began my journey.
My first encounter was with 1 Peter, which begins with Peter proclaiming to be the author. This seemed straight-forward enough, until I began my research. I read the chapter over and over, picking out everything about which I had questions. I researched the people, places, customs, environment, politics, and religious practices of the time. After much study, I found myself asking: How is it that an unschooled fisherman was able to write with such eloquence and with what appeared to be Greco-Roman influence? Could the author be Tertius, an amanuensis and colleague of the Apostle Paul? While, in the past, I had accepted at face value that Peter was the author, the authorship is not clear and there are many theories about who may have written 1 Peter.
Reading scripture through both a devotional lens and a culturally contextualized lens feeds a previously undiscovered hunger within. For me, laying a solid foundation of God’s Word nourishes my heart and mind. I think back to when we built onto our existing house, when I had many opportunities to help destroy walls and put up new ones. My brother-in-law, Gene, was the contractor who taught me that the strength of a building lies in its foundation. He would repeat over and over that a poorly constructed foundation can be dangerous.
So far, my spiritual foundation has proven to be sturdy and able to support the load of life’s experiences. Still, I am thrilled to strengthen this foundation further. So, I continue my quest to uncover the stories behind the words in the Bible.
Bible study can seem like an intimidating academic or intellectual exercise but there are many GREAT tools out there that can help. I find that having a good “study Bible” comes in handy because it has notes with important information about people, places, and common practices of the time mentioned. For instance, the book of Ruth might be confusing if you don’t know anything about marriage practices in the time of the Old Testament. Unless you do some research, you might miss a big point in the story! There are a variety of dictionaries, commentaries, and study guides available. Most importantly, our church family has many well-versed scholars ready and willing to answer questions. Have you considered reading God’s Word through a different lens?
Until we are together again,