An indispensable resource for all students of the Bible, accessibly providing the cultural background of every passage in the New Testament.
To understand and apply the Bible well, you need two crucial sources of information. One is simply the Bible itself. The other is an understanding of the cultural background to the passage you're reading.
Only with the background can you grasp the author's original concerns and purposes. This unique commentary provides, in verse-by-verse format, the crucial cultural background you need for responsible—and richer—Bible study.
Written in clear, nontechnical language, this invaluable aid includes:
- A glossary of cultural terms and important historical figures
- Maps and charts
- An up-to-date bibliography of commentaries and other resources for each book of the New Testament
- Introductory essays on the importance of cultural background and the uses of this unique commentary
Jesus (in Matthew 6:7-8) told us not to pray like the pagans. But how did the pagans pray?
"Greek prayers piled up as many titles of the deity addressed as possible, hoping to secure his or her attention. Pagan prayers typically reminded the deity of favors done or sacrifices offered, attempting to get a response from the god on contractual grounds . . . Jesus predicates effective prayer on a relationship of intimacy."
Why was James (in James 2:6) so sure the rich would exploit the poor and drag them into court?
"Roman courts always favored the rich, who could initiate lawsuits against social inferiors, although social inferiors could not initiate lawsuits against them."
What was unusual about Jesus' exorcising demons "with authority"?
"There were many exorcists in Jesus' day. They had two main methods of expelling demons: (1) revolting or scaring the demon out (e.g., by putting a smelly root up the possessed person's nose in the hope that the demon would not be able to stand it); (2) invoking the name of a higher spirit to get rid of the lower one. The people are thus amazed that Jesus can be effective by simply ordering the demons to leave."
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