Self-Guided Tutorial and Methodology
for Integrated Biblical Context
Getting Oriented – Biblical Geography
Get James Monson’s Regions on the Run for a good tutorial on biblical geography. Done seriously, it can take 100 hours to process. Or consider an introductory approach to biblical geography by reading Geobasics in the Land of the Bible. Both of these tutorial options on biblical geography can be obtained on the www.biblicalbackgrounds.com website. As a geography supplement and for visual re-enforcement, view PBT’s Above Israel” DVD series.
Getting Oriented – Biblical Frameworks
Get Doug Greenwold’s “The Five Story Lines of Scripture” DVD where he teaches this framework perspective to the Teaching Directors of Community Bible Study. This is an essential framework for understanding the Bible from 30,000 feet. It’s available on the PBT website www.preservingbibletimes.org.
Getting Oriented – Seeing the “Pieces”
Jim Martin’s (PBT’s co-founder) has two books that provide a nice contextual overview (different from an in-depth applications perspective) of hundreds of Bible/Gospel passages. It’s full color, 8 ½ X 11 inches in size, and each two-page spread gives you a great map, usually a close up and a distant shot of the site, often a museum biblical artifact that relates to the site, and a written overview of the main geographical, historical and cultural issues resident in each passage (again, you have to come up with your own implications of those facts). Many have found these books to be a wonderful visual resource and overview on the general contextual issues resident in each passage. The Visual Guide to the Bible book and The Visual Guide to the Gospels book are available at Amazon and various Christian book distributors.
Getting Oriented – Integrating the Narrative and Restoring the Passage
Consider reading Kenneth Bailey’s book Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes (Amazon). Then read Doug Greenwold’s books – Encounters with Jesus, The Rest of the Story, Making Disciples Jesus’ Way, Those Prodigal Sons, That Good Samaritan, Becoming a Judean Shepherd, and Zechariah and Elizabeth to see how the implications, insights and applications start to expand from restoring a passage back into its original integrated contextual understanding. Remember: The pursuit of an integrated contextual understanding of a passage is foundational if we are to discern the Spirit’s timeless, intended (original) meaning of the passage.
More on Gospel Culture
Consider reading Alfred Edersheim’s book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. It’s a 100+ year old classic that takes some plowing through, but is often worth it. It is available online from multiple sources. Also consider reading Joachim Jeremias Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, another classic.
Where to from Here?
Depending on how these resources have impacted you, and where you find your contextual appetite going, we can recommend some Phase II “curriculum” suggestions for you.
Just to state the obvious, consider coming to Israel on PBT’s annual “Life and Land of Jesus” contextual immersion study program. It is a 13-day trip to Israel like no other with its emphasis on team teaching, contextual motifs and “connecting the dots” themes, as well as PBT’s integrated contextual (geographical, historical, cultural, and literary context) approach to the Scriptures – all done with an emphasis on the transformation aspects of the site and its passage(s). Also consider our contextual trip to Southern Italy where we immerse ourselves in “Paul’s Roman World.” For John and the seven churches of Revelation, consider joining our “Walking With the Apostle John” trip to Turkey. All three are great “jump starts” in understanding biblical context.
And don’t forget PBT’s weekend teaching seminars in various parts of the country as well as attending PBT’s four-day Institute for Biblical Context in Columbia, MD.
Other Contextual Resources
Depending on your appetite and interest, there are a goodly number of helpful books that focus on some different aspects of biblical context. By going to the FAQ’s section of the PBT website www.preservingbibletimes.org, and opening up the link “What Other Contextual Resources are Available,” you will find additional recommended resources for digging deeper into biblical context.
PBT’s Preferred Passage Contextual Restoration Methodology
1) The View from 30,000 Feet – “The Five Story Lines of Scripture”
2) The Context of the Era
a) The prevailing Worldview – how they thought
b) Cultural norms – how they functioned and behaved
3) The View from 5,000 Feet – The Author’s Themes & Motifs, Luke e.g.,
Bringing Compassion and Mercy to Those Deprived of It
Developing a New Community, Giving People a New Beginning:
New Disciples Being (Re)made
Kingdom of God Being Established
Remaking and Pulverizing Paradigms
Establishing His Authority
Restoring the Covenants…and More
4) The View from Ground Level – Specific Context for the Passage
a) Where are We? A Geography Question with Implications
b) What Happened Before? – A History Question with Implications since the past is always the prologue to the present passage.
c) What Cultural Clues are We Given? – More Implications
d) Any Literary Issues? – Parallelisms, Idioms, Remez & Word Meanings. What teaching cluster (pericope) might this be a part of?
5) Visual Context: What Does the Site/Surrounding Area Look Like?
Proximities, Sight Lines, Terrain, Soil, Rainfall, etc.
6) Restoring the Narrative by Integrating all the Contextual Pieces
Expanded Insights, Applications and Meaning – Don’t Forget the “Bermuda Triangle of the Soul” Themes as You Retell the “Familiar” Story.