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NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes

, 2016
ISBN: 9780310090175

Digital Logos Edition

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You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture.

That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.

The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally-based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

This resource does not include the Bible text. The NIV is available separately and can be purchased here.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Describes cultural nuances behind the text of God’s Word
  • Features relevant cultural and political information in each book introduction
  • Includes dozens of helpful charts and maps
  • Explains the text with over 10,000 study notes


  • Author Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors
  • Abbreviations
  • Preface
  • Hebrew to English Translation Chart
  • Ancient Texts Relating to the Old Testament
  • Old Testament Chronology
  • Major Background Issues from the Ancient Near East
  • The Torah: God Establishes His Covenant
  • Narrative Literature: God Working through Events and Outcomes
  • Wisdom and Hymnic Literature: God’s Wisdom and Kingship
  • Oracles of the Prophets: God’s Plan Announced through the Prophets
  • The Time Between the Testaments
  • Key New Testament Terms
  • New Testament Chronology
  • The Gospels and Acts: Accounts of Jesus and the Early Church
  • The Letters and Revelation: Messages for the Growing Global Church
  • Table of Weights and Measures

Top Highlights

“The emblem on Antipas’s coins was a reed. John’s hearers would be familiar with reeds, since they grew as tall as 16 feet (5 meters) around the Jordan, where John had baptized. Reeds were used figuratively for what was weak and undependable in time of trouble (1Ki 14:15; 2Ki 18:21; 3 Maccabees 2:22).” (Page 1632)

“Mark is almost exactly half the length of Matthew and Luke, suggesting standardized scroll lengths. Given the cost of ancient scrolls, Mark would have been the most affordable of the Gospels, and must have circulated widely in the first century. Matthew and Luke both considered Mark sufficiently reliable to draw heavily on this Gospel.” (Page 1681)

“This study Bible has been purpose-built to do one thing: to increase your understanding of the cultural nuances behind the text of God’s Word so that your study experience, and your knowledge of the realities behind the ideas in the text, is enriched and expanded.” (Page iii)

“Matthew was the early second-century church’s favorite and most-cited Gospel.” (Page 1604)

“As in vv. 7–8, mere physical descent is not sufficient; the promise specified the (slightly) younger twin, Jacob (Ge 25:23). Offered before their birth, the promise depended solely on God’s grace, not on the brothers’ prior behavior. Most Jewish people recognized both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility without viewing them as contradictory (see note on 8:29). They especially emphasized that God chose Israel as a people; Paul insists here in ch. 9 that God’s choice is not limited to Abraham’s physical descendants, but more widely can include Gentiles (vv. 24–26).” (Page 1964)

Praise for the Print Edition

How I wish someone had put a book like this into my hands 50 years ago.

—N.T. Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity

I cannot recommend a study Bible any more than this one: Five stars!

—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament

  • Title: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture
  • Authors: Craig Keener, John H. Walton
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Print Publication Date: 2016
  • Logos Release Date: 2017
  • Era: era:Contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Bible › Study and teaching
  • ISBNs: 9780310090175, 0310090172
  • Resource Type: Study Bible
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T01:59:48Z

About the Editors

Craig Keener (PhD, Duke University) is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and is the author of 17 books, four of which have won book awards in Christianity Today. One, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, has sold more than half a million copies. He has authored scholarly commentaries on Matthew, John (two volumes), Acts (four volumes), and more briefly on Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Revelation. Dr. Keener is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who spent 18 months as a refugee in her nation of Congo before their marriage.

John H. Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, spent 20 years teaching at Moody Bible Institute.

In his college years, he developed a passion for archaeology and Bible history. Instead of training to be an archaeologist, though, he focused his attention on studies comparing the culture and literature of the Bible and the ancient Near East. He has never lost his fascination with this subject, but comparative studies only provide one of the means by which he tries to get people excited about the Old Testament. He’s saddened by how little exposure to and understanding of the Old Testament many Christians have, but he’s passionate in doing whatever he can to remedy this spiritual and theological loss.

For 25 years, Dr. Walton was active at South Park Church in Park Ridge, Illinois—teaching at every level, from adults through preschool. He’s driven by the desire to offer people a greater familiarity with God’s Word and a greater confidence in understanding God’s revelation of himself in its pages. Since moving to Wheaton, he has gotten involved in the same areas of ministry at Glen Ellyn Bible Church.

Whether in teaching or writing, he’s constantly challenged in his own life because the material he’s presenting stretches him as much as it stretches his students and readers. Whatever he’s writing or teaching also has a way of infiltrating his family. His wife, Kim, was trained as a biochemist, which made for interesting dinner conversations—especially when he was working on his Genesis commentary. His three kids have often gotten involved in the discussions, and he’s had fun responding to them and seeing his family grow together.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


25 ratings

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  1. Paul Gibson

    Paul Gibson


  2. Dave Thawley

    Dave Thawley


    I've got the paper version but I really like this and want to link my own notes to it so I thought it has to be worth it.
  3. Bruce Cullom Sr.
  4. Karina Gabriel Stavenes
    Amazing scholarship. As it clearly states at the beginning, this was not an inter-scholastic, academic peer-to-peer type of work, nor an in-depth theological study, nor even systematic theology, but a work written for the non-scholar, non-academic Bible reader. In other words, the layman/woman to better understand the Bible by citing numerous secular sources to better understand the people, places, and cultural context of the time. I am so thankful for this work. After having purchased the hard copy NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, and having given it as gifts to my sons and several family members, I was thrilled to find it also available for Logos. Thank you so much to the scholars, theologians, academics, and all involved in bringing us this amazing work, and to Zondervan. May the Lord bless you all.
  5. Jeffery G. Carswell
  6. Reluctant Apologist
    I already have the physical study bible, but I reference it so often that I purchased the Logos Study Bible notes. I have learned so much from this study bible. Ex: Mark 6:50 "It is I. The NIV's translation is legitimate and fits the context, but the words in Greek here also mean "I am" evoking Exodus 3:14... Together with the context of Jesus treading on waters and being 'about to pass by' (v 48) this experience reveals Jesus' deity. (See note on v. 48)." Or Matthew 10:25, recalling when Jesus was called Beelzebul by the teachers of the law because he was casting out demons, and responded that a house divided against itself cannot stand, but the strong man must be bound before someone may enter his house (Mark 3:22-30) "Beelzebul. Because Jesus' first hearers spoke Aramaic, they may have caught a wordplay: Beelzebul literally means "master of the house": it probably plays on Baal-Zebub, a pagan deity (2 Kings 1:2-3, 6, 16). Beelzebul was also used with reference to Satan; cf. 12:24-28." This resource is INVALUABLE. I very much recommend it.
  7. David Wood

    David Wood


  8. David Hotelling
  9. Steven Alvey

    Steven Alvey


    Incredibly DISAPPOINTING and surprisingly lacking in basic things it should have. No idea why there are so many positive reviews. The main selling point of this item is that it's notes are meant to give you cultural context and background for the era and locations the scriptures talk about... but there are some serious problems: #1 Notes at the beginning of the books are very short and sparse and give very little that I couldn't have found on wikipedia.   #2 Verse by verse notes often contain very little background/cultural information and instead give typical bible commentary information that you'd expect (and probably already own) in other commentaries. #3 When there is a cultural note, it is often frankly useless. e.g. verse 1 greetings. ----Note: Ancient writers often greeted their recipients. Yeah, it's that useless and that's not much of an exaggeration.  In fact, here's a direct example straight from the text: 1:4 I always thank my God for you. -----[Note]: Letters sometimes included thanksgivings. Wow, really?   Here's another useless one: 4:16 imitate me. -----Disciples often learned from their teachers’ behavior; children also imitated parents (see note on v. 14). Seriously... who wrote that? How is that an illuminating cultural contextual note? Oh wait, here's another one: 11:1 Follow my example. ---- As in ch. 9, Paul appeals to his own example; other sages sometimes also did this, and disciples were expected to follow their teachers’ example. Another: 10:15 judge for yourselves. -------Speakers often appealed to hearers in this way. Honestly, who approved this thing and what on earth are all the 5-star reviewers referring to?  These are meaningless notes! And there are a TON of them.   And they "often" use the words "often" or "frequent" without citing ANY source or explanation.  Which brings us to #4.   #4 And this one is seriously frustrating: almost ZERO citations or references outside the bible.  ...the whole point of this is to provide historical/cultural context about the place and times the scriptures are talking about or written in...  and there are almost ZERO citations (at least in the text as visible in Logos). With almost zero exceptions, the only citations are bible cross-references... but ALL commentaries have those... this is supposed to be different, it’s supposed to be about the extra-biblical context that the bible is set in. So why are there almost ZERO external references? if you’re going to tell me a relevant fact about, say, the city of Corinth, that relates to something Paul said, great! But… I want to know WHERE that fact came from. Did you… make it up? Did you, exaggerate or selectively choose that fact to skew the scripture verse to your preferred interpretation? Could you… maybe… you know, do that thing you’re supposed to do in an academic resource and CITE A SOURCE!?? Sometimes the note was so worthless that it needs no citation, like the ones above, e.g. "Some ancient writers often picked their noses" would not need a citation, because we could have guessed that was the case (but that's exactly why such a note shouldn't even exist, and the notes are “often” really that bad).   But other times, ‘the "often" this or that or "frequently" this or that’ type notes might be useful, but there are NO citations! Or - bizarrely, it will cite another verse from the very same book of the bible you are reading as it's source for the claim! how does that make sense in a commentary or study bible that is meant to give you external cultural context?  Sometimes the note was so worthless that it needs no citation, like the ones above, e.g. "Some ancient writers often picked their noses" would not need a citation, because we could have guessed that was the case (but that's exactly why such a note shouldn't even exist).   I am honestly just blown away by A- How short this falls from the hype and claims in the product description… and B - How many people are giving it 5-star reviews for some reason. I honestly think they thought this would be a cool idea and perhaps were excited about the biz/profit potential too, and then they discovered just how little info they had to fill the pages and decided to fill the emptiness with the useless types of notes like the ones I pasted above, just so there’d be something there. And then I guess they got academically lazy and decided not to cite almost ANY extra-biblical sources at all for their extrabibilical cultural context notes.... And then they looked at the monstrosity and said.... “yeah, we should definitely charge people $40 bucks for this. Heck most of them don;t even use the resources they buy and will leave us 5 stars just based on how excited we made them feel about it in the product description in the store. So what have we got to lose?” IDK, maybe I’m being too harsh. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks. ----Note: Ancient writers often said “thanks” when concluding a statement. ...ROFL
  10. David Brian Drury
Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Print list price: $49.99
Regular price: $39.99
Save $10.00 (25%)