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Social-Science Commentary (6 vols.)

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Collection value: $127.94
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These volumes in the Social-Science Commentary series present a pioneering alternative commentary genre that offers a contextual approach to the study of the New Testament, thoroughly grounded in the original audience’s first-century cultural setting. These commentaries cover the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, the book of Acts, the Deutero-Pauline letters (Colossians, Ephesians, and 2 Thessalonians), the letters of Paul, and the book of Revelation. Complete with orienting introductions, illustrative charts, and other supplements, this collection offers rich insights into the the New Testament text through the lens of the original recipients and shows how they would view the world through their experiences, cultural idioms, history, and both aural and written genres. This socio-cultural background drawn from anthropological studies of the Mediterranean social system offers significant clues for filling in the unspoken or implicit elements of Scripture as a Mediterranean reader would have.

  • Pioneering social-science commentaries
  • A thoroughly contextual look at the New Testament
  • Orienting introductions and illustrative charts and tables
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Bruce J. Malina is professor of New Testament at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. He is also the coauthor of Social-Science Commentary on the Book of Acts, Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul, and A Time Travel to the World of Jesus.

Richard L. Rohrbaugh is professor of biblical studies at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. He is also the author of The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective and the editor of The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation.

John J. Pilch is professor emeritus of New Testament at Lewis and Clark College. He is also the coauthor of Social-Science Commentary on the Book of Acts and Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul.


3 ratings

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  1. Randy



    I think it's beneficial to study the background culture for sure. The only caution I would make, is that placing too much emphasis on the culture of the day in which it was written, fosters the notion people's culture should determine the meaning of the Bible, rather than the Bible determining what our culture should be (cultural relativism). One can't read the Old Testament without coming to the conclusion that Israel was thoroughly corrupted because they conformed to the culture of their day, rather than basing their culture on what the Bible teaches. The New Testament likewise warns us not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers, not to conform to the patterns of this world, and not to love the world's patterns of life. Jesus strongly rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for setting aside the meaning of Scripture, for the sake of their own, man-made traditions. Unless the text of the Scripture itself, clearly indicates that what it is teaching is only relevant to the culture in which it was originally written, we should consider it a timeless principle of godliness for all generations.
  2. jth



  3. MDD



  4. J.R. Woods

    J.R. Woods


    As far as digging into the world of the New Testament, you cannot do better than Malina, Rohrbaugh, and Pilch, in my opinion. After interacting with many people inside and outside the church, I have found every answer to the difficulties people have with many of the difficult passages of the New Testament find their answers in understanding the value systems, and economic/government/sociological structures under girding the unspoken understanding behind the text of the New Testament. I like to tell my parishioners that understanding the New Testament communication is analogous to Bob Ross painting one of his master pieces: he always starts with the furthest background pieces (first sky, clouds, background mountains, etc) and only then works his way to the foreground pieces (closest trees, bushes, shoreline ripples, etc). These authors send that message again and again: do NOT start with the text (i.e. foreground), but start with the context (background), and then you will come back to the text much closer in understanding to the way the original audience would have. A quick illustration can be found in the oft-repeated indictments attributed to Jesus of statements against these unnamed folk called "the rich": they have a hard time getting into the kingdom, they cannot serve two masters, their cares choke out the Word of God's fruitfulness in their lives, etc. In today's free-market economic world, a predominantly non-agrarian one, a predominantly democratic-work-your-way-up-the-ladder world, how are we to see these statements? Well, as Malina and his associates rightly point out: coming from today's world, we cannot. But if we see these statements in light of the Mediterranean hierarchical, top 10% aristocratically run, slave-trading, 90% agrarian, fiercely patron-oriented world, Jesus' words begin to take on new significance and color. For all the limitations that using Models of this world may have, this reviewer has never read works that bring the text of the New Testament off of the floating-fluffy-cloud world of theology, and firmly planted back into the ground of the real world where people live, eat, breath, and love with all their soul and strength. Highly recommended.


Collection value: $127.94
Save $17.95 (14%)
Payment plans available in cart