Bible 347 Return to Syllabus

How to Do a Historical,
Cultural, and Theological Study

  1. Research the Background information on the book in which your passage is found in an introduction on the Old or New Testaments and in the introduction chapters of commentaries. In the New Testament, one of the best is Donald Guthrie's New Testament Introduction. In the Old Testament, one of the best is R. K. Harrison's Introduction to the Old Testament.

  2. Consult references such as those in the center or side margins to find other passages in the Bible which might provide historical background to your passage.

  3. For cultural information consult Everett Ferguson's Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Other volumes to consult include Merrill Tenney's New Testament Times and R. K. Harrison's Old Testament Times.

  4. Note cultural information found in commentaries and if possible check out any primary references for yourself. Commentaries are notorious for inventing cultural background information. Good sources for checking primary references are the volumes in the Loeb's Classical Library. The Mishnah by Danby is a good primary source for Jewish backgrounds in New Testament times.

  5. Consider the theological implications of the passage under consideration. Do these seem to agree with or disagree with the presuppositions that you already hold?

  6. Consult a scripture index or topical Bible (such as Nave's Topical Bible) on topics found in your passage. Look up the passages and try to formulate a wholistic teaching on the subject. Ask how the passage under consideration fits into this scheme. Ask whether similar passages from the same author that wrote the passage you are studying have a different emphasis from other passages on this topic.

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