Product Guide for Cultural & Historical Background
Bridging the Cultural Gap
One of the goals of in depth bible study is to help the student of Scripture bridge the gap between the language and culture of today and the language and culture of the authors and first hearers of Scripture.
Logos Bible Software has Greek tools and Hebrew tools for studying the text of the Bible and the languages it was written in. These tools help bridge the language gap. The purpose of this guide is to discuss the tools Logos Bible Software offers for bridging the cultural gap as well. These tools include written remains of the ancient world, and books discussing the same, physical remains of the ancient world studied by archaeologists, history books, cultural studies, maps and geography books, encyclopedias, and various introductions and commentaries.
One excellent way to learn about the world of the Bible is to read the written records that the ancients left behind.
- The Works of Josephus - an English translation of the complete works of the important first century Jewish historian.
- Josephus and the New Testament discusses how Josephus helps us understand the New Testament.
- Synopsis of Greek Sources for the Hasmonean Period. This study tool for working through Josephus and the deutero-canonical Books of Maccabees is currently gathering interest on our pre-publication program.
- Genesis and the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus in the PBI Old Testament Studies Collection.
- Flavius Josephus Collection (5 volumes). This set includes biographical material as well as a new translation and commentary of books 1-10 of Jewish Antiquities.
- Josephus in Greek: Niese's Critical Edition with Apparatus.
- The Works of Philo an English translation of the works of Philo, a 1st century Hellenistic Jewish philosopher.
- The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology.
- The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English. This includes translations, introductions and commentaries of the books found in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles that are not found in most Protestant Bibles, and also extra-biblical material, such as the Book of Enoch, that were widely read in the early Jewish and Christian communities and were very influential, even if they were not generally considered 'scripture'.
- Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (in the Second Temple Period Collection). This collection also includes other books on the history and culture of the 2nd Temple period, the era of history leading up to 70 AD which included most of the events of the New Testament.
- Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context and Significance
- Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology. Greek texts of the important early Jewish and Christian extra biblical materials.
- Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition. English translations along with Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek transcriptions of the Dead Sea Scrolls - important sectarian Jewish documents for reconstructing the religious world of the biblical times.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls Today.
- Dead Sea Scrolls and Modern Translations of the Old Testament. Discusses how the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has influenced modern Bibles.
- Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls. A collection of 12 volumes about the Scrolls.
- The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave 1: A Commentary, Third Edition (in the Northwest Semitic Collection, gathering interest on our pre-publication program). In addition to this book on a key Dead Sea Scroll, this collection includes several other books on how the study of other Northwest Semitic writings have helped us to understand Biblical Hebrew.
- Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts. Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls with morphological analysis.
- Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah. This introductory textbook covers the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls and Josephus.
- The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefire, Revised Edition (in the Northwest Semitic Collection, gathering interest on our pre-publication program).
- Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts (gathering interest on our pre-publication program). This book contains a very useful collection of texts, with English translations and introductions, of Aramaic texts from Palestine dating from 200 B.C. to 135 A.D. Useful for learning more about the form of Aramaic used during the New Testament, and also of some use in understanding the Aramaic portions of the Hebrew Bible.
- The Context of Scripture. This massive 3-volume set contains English translations, with extensive notes, bibliography and Bible cross-references, to the important literature of Israel's ancient neighbors. Egyptian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Ugaritic and other important ancient cultures are covered.
- Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Pritchard). Before the Context of Scripture (see above), this was the standard collection of English translations of Ancient Near Eastern texts.
- Admonition and Curse. Compares divine covenants in the Hebrew Bible with Ancient Near Eastern treaties.
- Writings from the Ancient World (16 volumes). These volumes contain transcriptions, translations, introductions and commentary on texts written in Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Egyptian, Ugaritic, Aramaic and other languages of the Ancient Near East.
- Ancient Egyptian Literature, volumes 1, 2, and 3. Lichtheim's translations of documents illustrating Egyptian history and culture.
- The Amarna Letters. English translations of diplomatic correspondence of Canaanite and other rulers with the Egyptian Pharaoh from the 14th century B.C.
- The Ugaritic Library. The Ugaritic Tablets contain the closest linguistic and cultural parallels with the Hebrew Bible. This collection of books includes transcriptions of the entire published Ugaritic corpus, as well as English translations of the most important religious texts.
- Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations. This is a collection of ancient texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Canaanite dialects with English translations and glossaries.
- The Nag Hammadi Library in English. These documents are more useful for a study of the early Christian centuries than of the Bible itself, since they post-date the biblical period. Still, some use of them has been made for trying to understand the theologies that Paul and John argue against in the Bible, theologies which are perhaps the intellectual ancestors of the Nag Hammadi documents.
- Gnostic and Apocryphal Studies Collection (10 volumes). This set of books discusses the Nag Hammadi materials and other non-biblical materials that circulated in the early Christian centuries. Includes a general introduction to Gnosticism.
- The Mishnah. This is an English translation of the rabbinical teachings on observance of the Law. Some of this material post-dates the biblical period, but many of the teachings found in the Mishnah would probably have been familiar to the Pharisees and biblical writers, such as Paul.
- Jewish Law. A four volume set of books discussing Jewish Law from the biblical times through the Midrash and Talmudic literature to modern times.
- Legends of the Jews. A massive collection of Jewish stories connected to the Hebrew Bible, compiled from a wide variety of sources.
- JPS Classic Midrash Collection. Early Jewish writings on Exodus and the Sabbath and the various feasts and festivals of the Jewish year. Composed between the 3rd and 5th centuries, many of these traditions will post-date the culture of the Bible times.
- Light from the Ancient East. This book discusses how the papyrus remains found in Egypt have helped us to understand the Hellenistic world of the New Testament.
In addition to written records, the ancients have left us artifacts, the ruins of buildings, and other physical traces. Archaeologists analyze these traces to help us understand the Biblical World.
- Biblical Archaeology Review Archive CD-ROM. Every issue of this popular journal from 1975 to 2003. Articles are written for the interested lay person, making this the archaeology magazine of choice for the non-specialist. Issues contain many photos, drawings and maps.
- The Biblical World in Pictures. 1,300 images from the makers of Biblical Archaeology Review.
- Biblical Archaeologist on CD-ROM The complete 60 year run of this excellent journal.
- Bible and Spade Collection. All the issues of this biblical archaeology journal from 1972 to 2005.
- Archaeology Odyssey: The Archive CD-ROM - from the Biblical Archaeology Society, this magazine covers the ancient world in a more general fashion. Not every article will directly relate to the biblical world.
- Near East Archaeology Collection. A 3 volume collection of archaeology books.
- Archaeology and the Bible. A one-volume survey.
- The Land that I will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in the Library of Hebrew Bible/OT Studies: JSOTS Old Testament Monographs collection currently gathering interest on our pre-publication program.
- The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. A survey of the ancient world from the earliest civilizations to the Arab conquest.
- Traveling in the Holy Land: Through the Stereoscope. A collection of 100 year-old photos of the Holy land, showing what it looked like before some of the modern developments.
- Images of the Holy Land. Another collection of photos.
- Photos of the Holy land.
Historians examine the written records and the physical remains in order to put the pieces together and paint a picture of the people and events that shaped the world. Historians of the biblical period have written some useful works for the students of the Bible. See also the books by and about Josephus (a 1st century Jewish historian) in the section above on the written records.
- A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ. This 5-volume set paints a detailed picture of the world in which Jesus and the disciples walked.
- A History of Israel by John Bright.
- History of Israel in SPCK Old Testament Introduction Collection.
- Alfred Edersheim 4-pack includes Bible History: Old Testament, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, The Temple, its Ministry and Services, and Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Edersheim interacts heavily with rabbinical Jewish writings.
- Hebrew History Collection, including Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.'s A History of Israel: From the Bronze Age through the Jewish Wars.
- History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This classic book has a lot to say about the interactions between the early church and the Roman empire.
The books in this section contain specialized studies on certain aspects of the biblical world as well as more general survey books on manners and customs of the biblical times.
- New Manners and Customs of Bible Times by Gower and Wright.
- The New Manners and Customs of the Bible by Freeman and Chadwick.
- Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs by Vos.
- Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible by Packer, Tenney, and White.
- Jewish Sects of the New Testament Era discusses the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Ebionites, Sicarii, Theraputae, and others.
- The New Testament Milieu
- A Time Travel to the World of Jesus
- Entering the High Holy Days covers the history of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah - the Day of Atonement and the Jewish New Year.
- In the Shadow of the Temple - a book about the relationship between early Christian practices and doctrines and those of ancient Judaism.
- Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts
- Messianism among Jews and Christians features 12 studies of messianism among Jews and Christians, mainly of the Herodian and New Testament periods.
- The Cosmopolitan World of Jesus - a fresh survey of the Hellenistic Jewish society of the New Testament period.
- Declaration and Covenant. An examination of covenant formulae in the Bible and the Ancient Near East.
- Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity - presents understanding honor and shame in the Mediterranean world as a key to biblical interpretation.
- Origins of Ancient Israelite Religion Collection includes 8 volumes on the religious life of Israel and the Ancient Near East.
- Understanding the Bible and its World Collection includes 2 cultural studies books, one on religious diversity in the Graeco-Roman World and one on Ethics and the New Testament.
- Primitive Concepts of Death and the Nether World and Jewish Ossuaries: Reburial and Rebirth are both contained in the PBI Old Testament Studies Collection.
- The Old Testament Studies Series Collection, currently gathering interest in our prepublication program, contains books on Old Testament Ethics, considering what the 'good life' is in the Old Testament, Covenant Formula and other studies directly relating to the world of the Old Testament.
- Library of NT Studies: JSNTS on the Gospels and Acts (16 volumes) contains several volumes on the cultural and historical background of the New Testament, including: The Gospel of Matthew in its Roman Imperial Context, Apocalyptism, Anti-Semitism and the Historical Jesus, and The Jewish Context of Jesus' Miracles.
- Paul, Luke and the Graeco-Roman World, and Political Paul: Justice, Democracy and Kingship in a Hellenistic Framework and Significance of Clothing Imagery in the Pauline Corpus are among the volumes that take historical and cultural approaches to the interpretation of Paul in the Library of NT Studies: JSNTS on Paul (17 volumes).
- The Church Origins Collection contains several books dedicated to reconstructing the world of the early church.
Maps and geography books help us to learn about the places where the biblical events took place. Many of the archaeology books listed above will also contain photographs and articles on important places.
- The Logos Deluxe Map Set.
- Nelson's 3-D Bible Mapbook.
- Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Revised.
- The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands.
- A Study Guide of Israel: Historical and Geographical. This is a tour guide through important biblical places in Israel and Jordon. It is part of a collection of the Ariel Ministries Messianic Collection.
Bible dictionaries and other specialized encyclopedias often also contain valuable articles on the historical and cultural background of the Bible. Below are some of the most useful of these.
- Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. 6 volumes.
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Edition in 4 volumes.
- Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. 2 volumes.
- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. 4 volumes.
- Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. This specialized dictionary has a great deal of information about the religious background of Israel and her neighbors.
- Encyclopedia of Judaism. 5 volumes.
- The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Also listed above in the Archaeology section, this is a survey of the ancient world from the earliest civilizations to the Arab conquest.
Many Bible commentaries and introductions contain cultural and historical information at the relevant passages. Nearly all of the detailed multi-volume technical commentaries are going to devote space to this end.This section simply lists a few commentaries and introductions that focus on historical and cultural background, but this list is far from exhaustive.
- The Bible Background Commentary in the Essential IVP Reference Library. This set also includes the Dictionary of New Testament Background.
- An Introduction to the New Testament
- The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction contains social analysis of ancient Israel as it relates to each book of the Hebrew bible.
- The Sheffield/T & T Clark Bible Guides Collection (44 volumes) were written by leading biblical scholars and serve as invaluable resources for students, preachers and Bible study leaders.
- The Baker Encountering the Bible Collection (3 Vols.) will help the student of the Bible understand both the world of the Scriptures and the issues addressed in modern scholarship.