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The Culture of the Bible

April 1, 2011
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Our culture affects the way we think, the way we judge right and wrong, and the way we view others. If you want to do business in another culture, it is smart to find out what is important to that culture because you will definitely want to avoid actions or speech that could be offensive. Studying how the other thinks will help you to understand how to relate well in that culture.

The Bible also has a culture. In order for us as believers to fully understand the Bible, we must understand that culture. While it is true that we can gain spiritual truth without this information, what riches are we missing? After living 21 years in Israel and studying this area, my understanding has dramatically changed, and my faith has deepened as I learned more about the culture of the Bible.

The Bible was written by Jewish men, living in Bible lands in Bible times. We live 2,000 years after the events recorded in the New Testament, and even more years separate us from the events of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament). Most of us live thousands of miles or kilometers away from the land of the Bible. We don’t know the languages in which the Bible was written. We don’t understand the culture of the Jewish people. The Bible often uses examples to describe our relationship to God or to explain the character and nature of God that were commonly understood by the people of that day. Those symbols don’t necessarily communicate the same thing to us today.

The Bible was not written in English, Japanese, German, Chinese, or Spanish; it was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. While the Bible is relevant for all people in all generations, the Bible is the story of a people, the Jews; a land, Israel; and the God who chose the Jewish people to be the ones who would reveal His nature to the world. Yeshua (Jesus), our savior, was born to a Jewish mother, and His disciples were Jewish men who lived in a Jewish world. The writers of the Bible described things as they saw them through the eyes of their culture. They lived with a Hebraic worldview.

Today, Christians around the world are discovering treasures in the Bible by exploring the Hebraic roots of their faith. Perhaps you find this idea challenging or threatening. It doesn’t need to be. Our faith in Yeshua will not change. Gaining knowledge about our roots will simply help bring parts of the biblical picture into clearer focus. Through this Hebraic Roots 101 series, we will consider the culture of the Jewish people, the language, the geography of Israel, and the historical context of the times the Bible was written. Join me on this adventure as we explore together the Hebraic roots of our Christian faith.

Source: By Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO

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