What would someone be talking about if they said, “The Cowboys are going up to the frozen tundra to melt the Cheeseheads”? Any football fan will easily understand that sentence: the Dallas Cowboys are going to play a road game in Green Bay against the Green Bay Packers. However, if you don’t understand the cultural background of that statement, you will be confused. You might recognize the words, but the meaning will be lost: Are a bunch of hat-wearing, horse-riding gentlemen going to the Arctic to eat cheese?
Dr. Darrell Bock, author and senior research professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, uses this illustration in his Mobile Ed course NT211: Introducing the Gospels and Acts: Their Background, Nature, and Purpose to show the importance of understanding the background of the New Testament:
In this course, Dr. Bock walks you through the background and “cultural scripts” of the New Testament. He highlights important events and figures from the Second Temple period and explains how they influenced the world in which Jesus was born. You’ll see how Jewish groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees developed as a reaction to the growing Greek influence known as Hellenism.
Dr. Bock also looks at the nature and purpose of the Gospels with an emphasis on Christ’s resurrection—the central event of the New Testament. You’ll come to understand the importance of having four Gospels with four unique perspectives. You’ll also learn what extracanonical Gospels like the Gospel of Thomas can teach us about the world of the early church. Dr. Bock discusses key events in the life of early church from the book of Acts, showing how persecution facilitated the spread of the gospel message.
NT211: Introducing the Gospels and Acts: Their Background, Nature, and Purpose will give you a better understanding of the historical and cultural background of the Gospels and Acts, as well as an appreciation of the unique themes of these books.