Understanding the culture which an author wrote for/to is often key to understanding a text's original meaning.

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29
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4answers
5k views

The Eye of the Needle

What is the opinion on Jesus's use of the phrase "the eye of a needle" in Mark 10:25: And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to ...
15
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the meaning of the reference to 'stones' in Ecclesiastes 3?

Ecclesiastes starts with a series of contrasts, most of which are easy to understand. However one reference is less obvious (at least to me) - the 'stones' in verse 5a: 1 For everything there is a ...
13
votes
3answers
9k views

Was 'σκύβαλον' (skubalon) profanity?

In Philippians 3:8, Paul uses the word σκύβαλον (skubalon), which is usually translated as "dung" , "garbage", or "rubbish". I've heard that this was considered an impolite word with much stronger ...
12
votes
4answers
6k views

What exactly was the “death in the pot”

2 Kings 4:38-41 (NIV) .. One of them .. found a wild vine and picked ... its gourds ... he cut them up into the pot of stew... they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And ...
12
votes
2answers
14k views

How old was Samuel when Hannah took him to the temple?

In 1 Samuel 1:24 we read: After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of ...
9
votes
1answer
138 views

Whose faith is the subject of Hebrews 11:11?

Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον (Hebrews 11:11, Westcott and Hort) The traditional translation of ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

The Ten Commandments were based on the Code of Hammurabi?

A topic that was discussed among peers was that the Ten Commandments of Christian and Jewish faith were based off the Code of Hammurabi. I looked into the Wikipedia article and was informed that ...
8
votes
6answers
36k views

What is the meaning of “rod and staff” (Psalm 23)?

I am under the impression that the "rod and staff" are actually one physical item. That is, that on one end was a kind of hook (staff) that was used to aid one's duty as a Shepard and on the other end ...
7
votes
2answers
264 views

Background to the phrase “fall from heaven like lightning”?

When the 70 came back to Jesus they were excited to report to Him that they had even found that the demons had to obey them in Jesus' name. Jesus appears to affirm their account by saying the ...
7
votes
3answers
240 views

What is the intended image of “pierced my hands and feet” in Psalm 22:16?

I sometimes struggle to understand how some of the NT authors describe OT passages as messianic prophecies. One of these is from the 22nd Psalm. Psalm 22:16 NASB (emphasis added) For dogs have ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Do the specific gifts the father gives to the prodigal son have any special significance?

What is the significance of the robe, ring & sandals in Luke 15:22? ‘But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the significance of touching Moses' feet with his son's foreskin in Exodus 4:25?

In Exodus 4:25 we read Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!" (ESV) What is the ...
6
votes
2answers
234 views

Circumcision “reversal” in 1 Corinthians

1 Cor 7:18a: περιτετμημένος τις ἐκλήθη, μὴ ἐπισπάσθω· Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. (ESV) It's not hard to find ...
6
votes
1answer
551 views

What was the relationship in ages between Jesus and his disciples?

There are a few texts in the gospels which give some flavor of Jesus' relationship with his disciples (citing the NIV here): Matt 10:24 - The student [μαθητὴς] is not above the teacher ...
5
votes
2answers
96 views

John 9: Did the blind man know scripture?

I found it odd that in John 9:30-33, the (healed) blind man refers to scripture, suddenly speaking as a learned scholar to the point where the Pharisees accuse him of lecturing them. I wonder, was it ...
5
votes
2answers
705 views

Psalm 23, “…table in the presence of my enemies…”

In Psalm 23, David talks about the Lord providing a "table" in the presence of his enemies. Just what does this table represent? Psalm 23:5 (ESV) You prepare a table before me in the ...
5
votes
2answers
295 views

Sandals and Holy Ground

In Exodus 3, Moses is commanded to take off his shoes because he is standing on holy ground, yet before him is appearing an Angel of the LORD, not God himself (in contrast to Exodus 19 an onward where ...
5
votes
1answer
139 views

Why did God appear as a firepot and torch to Abram?

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the ...
5
votes
2answers
424 views

What was the historical and cultural context of baptism in the time of Christ?

Throughout the New Testament, beginning with John the Baptist, the concept of baptism is portrayed historically with minimal explanation for what it is or why it is happening. This is continued ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Did the Hebrews lift their right hand to take an oath as some translations of Psalm 144:8 imply?

Do we have any evidence that the Hebrews used to lift their right hand to take an oath, as some translations of Psalm 144:8 imply? The original verse talks of a "right hand of falsehood" (KJV NAS) : ...
4
votes
1answer
220 views

Why was it a public disgrace for Elizabeth to be barren? (Luke 1:25)

I have read through many translations of Luke 1:25 and I come away with the understanding that it was not just an "internal disgrace" for Elizabeth to not have any children, but also a public ...
4
votes
0answers
105 views

What did Israel believe were the advantages of the monarchy system?

What are the apparent advantages of the monarchy system that Israel wanted to have that they saw in the other nations? There must be something they saw, for in 1 Samuel 8:4-5 and 19-20 we read (NASB): ...
3
votes
1answer
63 views

Were priests prohibited from tearing their garments

While studying an aspect of the crucifixion of Jesus (the seamless garment that the soldiers cast lots for), I came across a sermon transcript that said the following as part of its argument ...
3
votes
1answer
269 views

Why are thighs important?

There is an old question on Christianity.SE which I suggested that it should also be asked here - since we don't migrate OLD questions. In doing so, I noticed that the OP hasn't been really active ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

What is the significance of the term 'bread falling from the table '?

What is the historical background of the mention of 'bread falling from the table' as is seen in Matthew 15:27 (NIV): “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their ...
1
vote
1answer
98 views

In the New Testament, What is the Origin of “Believe In” and “Believe Into”?

Is there any Extra-Biblical source, (in Classical Greek, or Semitic sources), or a syntactical rule, behind the construction: ["πιστεύων ἐν" and "πιστεύων εἰς" + "Some Leader"]* — Or, is this ...
1
vote
1answer
337 views

In Acts 3:1, What is the Significance of the Ninth Hour of Prayer?

Acts 3:1 - Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the [a]ninth hour, the hour of prayer. I have been digging everywhere I can think of to find some description or outline of what ...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

How much were sacrificial animals worth?

Leviticus 4-5 describes animal sacrifices. The chief priest had to bring a bull, while ordinary Israelites brought a female goat or lamb. Those who were too poor to afford a goat or sheep could offer ...
0
votes
2answers
114 views

Early church context: Do we have contemporary texts which add useful context for interpreting the New Testament? [closed]

What are the oldest known Christian texts that are not part of scripture, or considered apocryphal text? I'd be interested in brief details of any texts which may aid in our understanding of the New ...
0
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1answer
829 views

What position in society did the teachers of the law hold?

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV): 27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the ...
0
votes
1answer
837 views

Were the Corinthians sacrificing to idols?

When Paul writes in chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians: "So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols..." - what practice is he referring to? On the one hand, it seems pretty obvious (despite the title of ...
0
votes
1answer
109 views

Was Jesus named after the eighth day of his birth?

In Luke 2:21 it says: "And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." Is this verse suggesting ...
-1
votes
1answer
43 views

Which hermeneutical trump card wins in 1 Timothy: audience, cultural context, historical reference, or translation?

I have read books gifted to me or web articles from searches that each play a "trump card" to win the day for their 1 Timothy interpretation. See Pandora's Pulpit by Roger Sapp or The Junia Project, ...
-2
votes
1answer
68 views

How do Hebrew sacrificial traditions compare with other cultures? [closed]

In the book of Leviticus, the people of Israel are given a number of instructions regarding when and how to perform sacrifices to God. I have often found that cultural context is extremely valuable ...