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A proper understanding of Scripture must include a knowledge of the historical, cultural, and religious context in which the Bible was written. Since two millenia has passed since the life and teaching of Jesus, obtaining this knowledge is not an easy task. For instance, the controversy over Jesus' healing on the Sabbath must be understood against the backdrop of the Mishnah's detailed list of forbidden Sabbath activities.
In this study, Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick identify and compile into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary cultural background for understanding passages in the Gospel narratives and add brief comments at the beginning of each selection, noting its relevance to the biblical text.
Knowing the historical and cultural background of the Bible is crucial to properly understanding and interpreting it. But the passing of 2,000 years often prevents today's reader from fully understanding the significance of various actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. For example, the radical nature of Jesus's healings on the Sabbath may go unnoticed without an awareness of first-century Jewish teaching on what was and was not permissible.
Pastors and other serious Bible students may not have access to important early writings that would provide this background, nor the time to wade through volumes of source material to find relevant tidbits. This unique reference work gathers into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary background for passages in the Gospels, along with introductory comments by the editors.
Darrell L. Bock (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of many books, including the two-volume commentary on Luke in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series, Jesus according to Scripture, and Studying the Historical Jesus.
Gregory J. Herrick (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) is a researcher and writer with the Biblical Studies Foundation.