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May 15, 2023

Resources:
Bible
Video: How to Read the Bible Well
Sample Paper: Interpretation of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-9
Zondervan Encyclopedia
The Holman Bible Dictionary
File: Four Contexts – Summary and ExampleBible
Video: How to Read the Bible Well
Sample Paper: Interpretation of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-9
Zondervan Encyclopedia
The Holman Bible Dictionary
File: Four Contexts – Summary and Example

 

How do I find and use relevant historical-cultural context?
That is a good question. Here are a few tips for you.
Historical-Cultural context is often hovering in the background assumptions of most passages. Consider things that are assumed in a passage of Scripture that might not make immediate sense to you.
Sometimes Scripture refers to specific historical or cultural elements (King Herod, the city of Samaria, seats at a banquet). Exploring these can help you understand the passage better.
Use the material in the “Cultures in and of the Bible” video. Take one of those cultural principles and apply it to your passage to see what it adds to your understanding.
The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible is an excellent resource, and it is available for free. The Holman Bible Dictionary is also a sound resource and is also available online for free (though slightly older). You can search these for a particular item or topic (be sure to cite them properly if you use them).
You can search the internet for items and resources, but always be sure to evaluate what you find online for its reliability.
Interpretation is both an art and a science. Like science, there are helpful tools and techniques, and there are right and wrong ways to use them. Like an art, interpretation has subjective elements and preferences that affect our ideas and choices. The mediating ground that connects and supports both of these is explanation and evidence. If you think something about a passage, then you have to explain it using evidence from the passage itself and the various contexts that surround it. Evidence should be used critically. This means that the evidence you cite should be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant with appropriate breadth and depth. Your process of analysis and explanation should use traceable cause and effect, bear some weight of significance, draw on a range of evidence, be fair and balanced, consider other points of view, and attend to any assumptions made in the process. Do not be afraid to employ creativity and imagination in your interpretation, but always keep it attached to the specifics of the passage and to good evidence and reasoning. That creativity comes to the fore in the application phase where you take a main point from the passage and transplant it into our time and place to see what wisdom and guidance it has to offer to us.
The sample paper on Matthew 13:1-19 gives you a model to follow as you write this first interpretation paper. You can look at it and ask your instructor any questions that it raises for you about this assignment. How do I find and use relevant historical-cultural context?
That is a good question. Here are a few tips for you.
Historical-Cultural context is often hovering in the background assumptions of most passages. Consider things that are assumed in a passage of Scripture that might not make immediate sense to you.
Sometimes Scripture refers to specific historical or cultural elements (King Herod, the city of Samaria, seats at a banquet). Exploring these can help you understand the passage better.
Use the material in the “Cultures in and of the Bible” video. Take one of those cultural principles and apply it to your passage to see what it adds to your understanding.
The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible is an excellent resource, and it is available for free. The Holman Bible Dictionary is also a sound resource and is also available online for free (though slightly older). You can search these for a particular item or topic (be sure to cite them properly if you use them).
You can search the internet for items and resources, but always be sure to evaluate what you find online for its reliability.
Interpretation is both an art and a science. Like science, there are helpful tools and techniques, and there are right and wrong ways to use them. Like an art, interpretation has subjective elements and preferences that affect our ideas and choices. The mediating ground that connects and supports both of these is explanation and evidence. If you think something about a passage, then you have to explain it using evidence from the passage itself and the various contexts that surround it. Evidence should be used critically. This means that the evidence you cite should be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant with appropriate breadth and depth. Your process of analysis and explanation should use traceable cause and effect, bear some weight of significance, draw on a range of evidence, be fair and balanced, consider other points of view, and attend to any assumptions made in the process. Do not be afraid to employ creativity and imagination in your interpretation, but always keep it attached to the specifics of the passage and to good evidence and reasoning. That creativity comes to the fore in the application phase where you take a main point from the passage and transplant it into our time and place to see what wisdom and guidance it has to offer to us.
The sample paper on Matthew 13:1-19 gives you a model to follow as you write this first interpretation paper. You can look at it and ask your instructor any questions that it raises for you about this assignment.

You will receive full credit for this assignment if you turn it in with the following checklist completed. Be sure to review your feedback on this assignment to help you do future, similar assignments well. You will receive partial credit if you do not complete all the parts. Please copy and paste this list onto the end of your paper. Type “Completed” after each portion that you completed.
Brief introduction with explanation (10 points)
Exploration of the contents and structure of the passage (20 points)
Use of two contexts to explain the passage (20 points)
Conclusion with the main point of the passage and an explanation (10 points)
Double checked writing and formatting (10 points)
You are allowed to choose a passage of your preference from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chs. 5-7 (e.g., the section on oaths 5:33-37 or the section on asking in 7:7-11). Your passage should contain a complete idea or story. You should not start in the middle of something or cut a unit off early. Generally, your selection should be at least 3 verses long but no longer than 10 verses.
Once you have chosen your passage. You will want to read it closely, attending to its overall flow, the structure of sentences, key nouns, key verbs, and any important descriptive elements. Then you will want to consider the four contexts (immediate, literary, cultural-historical, and canonical) and see how they may inform your understanding of the passage. Remember that you can draw on the videos on “Literary Styles in the Bible,” “Cultures in and of the Bible,” and “The Story of the Bible” to help provide some material for these various contexts.
Compose a 650-750 word paper in proper APA format that contains the following
A brief introduction that identifies your passage and explains why you chose it (approximately 50-75 words).
A section that explores the details of the passage’s flow, sentence structure, nouns, verbs, and descriptors (approximately 250-300 words).
A section that explains the passage more fully by using two of the following contexts with connections to details in the passage: immediate, literary, historical-cultural, and canonical (approximately 250-300 words).
A short conclusion that states your main takeaway from your interpretive work and how that point may apply to our time and place (approximately 100-150 words).
Proofread your paper for content, organization, and mechanics. Save a copy for yourself and upload a copy to Brightspace by the end of the workshop.You will receive full credit for this assignment if you turn it in with the following checklist completed. Be sure to review your feedback on this assignment to help you do future, similar assignments well. You will receive partial credit if you do not complete all the parts. Please copy and paste this list onto the end of your paper. Type “Completed” after each portion that you completed.
Brief introduction with explanation (10 points)
Exploration of the contents and structure of the passage (20 points)
Use of two contexts to explain the passage (20 points)
Conclusion with the main point of the passage and an explanation (10 points)
Double checked writing and formatting (10 points)
You are allowed to choose a passage of your preference from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chs. 5-7 (e.g., the section on oaths 5:33-37 or the section on asking in 7:7-11). Your passage should contain a complete idea or story. You should not start in the middle of something or cut a unit off early. Generally, your selection should be at least 3 verses long but no longer than 10 verses.
Once you have chosen your passage. You will want to read it closely, attending to its overall flow, the structure of sentences, key nouns, key verbs, and any important descriptive elements. Then you will want to consider the four contexts (immediate, literary, cultural-historical, and canonical) and see how they may inform your understanding of the passage. Remember that you can draw on the videos on “Literary Styles in the Bible,” “Cultures in and of the Bible,” and “The Story of the Bible” to help provide some material for these various contexts.
Compose a 650-750 word paper in proper APA format that contains the following
A brief introduction that identifies your passage and explains why you chose it (approximately 50-75 words).
A section that explores the details of the passage’s flow, sentence structure, nouns, verbs, and descriptors (approximately 250-300 words).
A section that explains the passage more fully by using two of the following contexts with connections to details in the passage: immediate, literary, historical-cultural, and canonical (approximately 250-300 words).
A short conclusion that states your main takeaway from your interpretive work and how that point may apply to our time and place (approximately 100-150 words).
Proofread your paper for content, organization, and mechanics. Save a copy for yourself and upload a copy to Brightspace by the end of the workshop.

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