The Bible was not written and received in a historical vacuum—in fact, the social and historical context of the Bible illuminates key understandings that may have been otherwise missed. Biblical scholars use many different approaches to uncover this context, each engaging various aspects of the social and historical world of the Bible—from religious ritual to scribal practice to historical events. In Social & Historical Approaches to the Bible, you will learn how these methods developed and see how they have been used. Many of these approaches are still in use by biblical scholars today, though often evolved from their earliest form as ideas were revised in light of the challenges and questions posed by further research. You will be introduced to the strengths and weaknesses of each method, so you may understand its benefits as well as see its limitations.
Social and Historical Approaches to the Bible is essential reading for students of the content and context of the bible. Adeptly defining, unpacking, and examining several genres of biblical criticism—including chapters each for the historical-grammatical approach, source criticism, form criticism, tradition-historical criticism, redaction criticism, and social-scientific criticism—Social and Historical Approaches to the Bible offers clear, readable, and current information about fundamental perspectives and methods used in biblical studies. This is an indispensable handbook for the shelves of biblical students and professionals alike.
—Erica Muhaisen, professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado (Denver)
The Lexham Methods Series is designed for exegetes who need to learn, refresh, and master the tools of biblical scholarship. The books present scholarly information in an easy-to-understand format and focus on cutting-edge methods for biblical interpretation while avoiding jargon. The four volumes give you a complete overview of every major type of biblical interpretation, featuring history and key figures, methods and terms, and a how-to section, giving you a strong foundation for further research.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
“The ultimate goal of biblical criticism is simply a better understanding of the text’s meaning.8” (Page 4)
“The list could go on, but the basic premise is a utilitarian one: a society preserves those texts that are in some way useful to it.” (Page 102)
“Hermeneutics, in its most basic sense, refers to the methodological principles of interpretation.” (Page 6)
“The historical-grammatical approach is a two-pronged approach, bringing together the study of language and history to identify meaning in the text. A grammatical understanding of the text presumes that it is most clearly interpreted in its original language and that the original meaning of the text is the preferred reading. Setting the text within its historical context means relating it to pertinent archaeological and historical discoveries, thus bringing both material witnesses and sociocultural data to bear on the situation and words of the text.” (Page 22)
“The second assumption stems from the first: Models and methods borrowed from the social sciences are tools for understanding, rather than concrete frameworks on which to hang the biblical text.6 The goal of social-scientific interpretation is not to describe exactly how things were conceived of in the ancient world, but to offer insight into how we, the modern readers, might better understand the background of the Bible in modern terms.” (Page 197)
Douglas Mangum is an academic editor for Lexham Press. He holds a PhD in Hebrew from the University of Free State and holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew and Semitic Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is an associate editor of the Lexham Bible Dictionary, editor of the Lexham Methods Series, and a regular Bible Study Magazine contributor.
Amy L. Balogh is Lead Lecturer of Religious Studies at the Regis University College of Contemporary Liberal Studies. She holds a PhD from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology and an MA in Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She has served as co-editor for Social & Historical Approaches to the Bible, a contributing editor for DIY Bible Study, and a contributor to Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.