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Interpretation: Cultural Studies April 7, 2010

Posted by TJ Friend in Interpretaion, OICA.
Tags: , , ,

Hello all. I don’t have too much to say on this topic, as I have already said a lot about historical/cultural studies here. Today, I would like to finish up the discussion on these cultural studies. In the Observation step of OICA you make note of these different historical/cultural issues. It is in the Interpretation step that you actually research these issues. If you already have a list of the historical/cultural issues found in your passage, great. If not, you should go through and find some of them. If you are having trouble finding some, look at the people, the places, the interactions, the objects, etc. Even if you find some thing that you think you know, it is good to check it out anyway because it could be different for us then it was back then.

Once you have a list of issues, pick some to study more in depth. Depending on how big your passage is, you can do as many or as few as needed. Obviously, the more you do, the better it will be, but even if you just do one or two it will be helpful. Pick out the things that either seem important to the general idea of the passage or just pick things that seem interesting to you. Don’t try and pick out the one issue that will “unlock” the passage. These cultural studies should shed more light on the specifics of the passage, and should not be taken as the “meaning” of the passage. Just like with word studies, cultural studies add to the overall interpretation of the passage. Don’t rely on these cultural studies to discover the meaning of the passage without taking into consideration the other aspects of interpretation like word studies and discourse analysis. The main thing is to learn more about your passage, and pretty much any issue you decide to study will lead you toward this goal.

I know this may seem anti-climatic, but doing these cultural/historical studies is actually fairly simple. Get yourself a Bible dictionary and look up each issue. If there are cross-references to other verses listed then take a look at those so that you can get a feel for some of the other contexts. Once you have read and studied it a little bit, try and summarize your findings into one or two sentences. Finally, write down how this study impacts your understanding of the passage. This last step is the most important.

That is it. If you already have a Bible dictionary, great! If not, you should get one. For the most part the content is similar. I would make sure you get one that is as thorough as possible (not abridged). Look at the length of the articles and how much cross references they give. Another thing to look for is pictures and maps. Finally, make sure you get something that is up to date. We are continually learning more and more about these ancient worlds and you want to have the most current information. If you don’t have access to a Bible dictionary and can’t buy one (at this time) here is a link to an online version. There are a few different ones here, but they are pretty old. Even so, an old dictionary is better than none at all.


For the reflection, do a study on the idea of “hospitality”. This is one of the biggest values for the ancient world and is something that we (especially in America) are unfamiliar with. If you can, think of a passage that has hospitality in it, and see how this new information can help your understanding of the passage.



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