Showing posts from September, 2017

Understanding Literary Context

"It's a dangerous business Frodo, going out your front door...You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to". Some of you may instantly recognize that quote, but I bet most of you won't.  This is a quote taken from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring .  If you are familiar with this story, Frodo, the main character, has just began his long journey of taking the One ring to the elves at Rivendell, and eventually on to be destroyed in Mordor.  Frodo says this quote to his companion, Sam.  It is actually something Frodo's uncle, Bilbo, use to say to him.  For those familiar with this epic story, you know that neither Sam nor Frodo understand just how right Bilbo was.  Understanding the story gives context to the quote.  That's what literary context does for us.  It helps us view a passage or quote in light of the whole story.  Without literary context a simple quote can be taken t

Understanding the Power of Cultural Context

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how understanding the historical context of a passage of Scripture can help us in interpreting and teaching that passage. I used the sons of Korah, who wrote several psalms, as an example.  You can read that post here. This week I wanted to continue the discussion on the power of using context to understand and teach a Bible passage by talking about the power of cultural context. According to George Guthrie in his book Read the Bible for Life, "all cultures have values and patterns of behavior that have an affect on interaction and communication in those cultures".  These values and customs can involve anything from the particular way you greet a friend or relative (shaking hands or hugs) or how you show respect or esteem for something or someone (e.g.; standing during the national anthem or putting your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance).  It is these patterns and nuances that set people and places apart, and it helps im