Studying Ancient Cultures Helps the Bible Come Alive!

I have been enjoying studying Ancient Civilizations just as much as my kiddos have this year.  There is such an abundance of information in studying ancient cultures that have enhanced even my own personal understanding of scripture.  After all, the ancient cultures that we’re studying this year were the contexts of the lives of the people we read about in Scripture.  Preachers and Bible Scholars like to call it Hermenutics, but I just like to call it History…and you don’t need a Theology degree to study this way…anyone can learn it.  Abraham came from Ancient Babylon/Mesopotamia.  The stories of Joseph and Moses took place within the context of Ancient Egypt and Africa.  The Assyrian and Babylonian culture superseded Israel and Judah, which were superseded by the ancient Persians and then the Greeks and the Romans.  To understand the context of these ancient cultures is to understand the Bible and the choices of great men and women who were used by God in the times in which they lived.

To teach history in this way, we have chosen a classical format for our Children and it has been so beneficial.  We’ve been working through “Story of the World: Vol 1″ by Susan Wise Bauer, and the accompanying Student Workbook as we read through the Old Testament.  Currently we are wrapping up our Old Testament reading and  entering our unit on Ancient Greece.

One of the books that we have chosen to use as a focal point in learning about Ancient Greek culture is “If I Were a Kid in Ancient Greece,” by Ken Sheldon.  It is fun and engaging for elementary aged children.  We have had alot of fun reading through it.  I highly recommend this book for young children especially grades 1-4.  My children are just beginning to understand that Jesus was himself born into a world that was influenced largely by Greek culture. In fact most people when Jesus was born, spoke Greek.  It was the common language of the day.  Even our New Testament that we now hold in our hands was for the most part written in Greek.

As we read through the customs and culture of Ancient Greece, there are so many New Testament scriptures that are coming to my mind, and as they do I might write about a few.  Studying Ancient Greece can really help us to understand the point that New Testament writers were trying to get across, since many of the examples they use, come from the prevalent culture.  There’s a lot of insight to be had by viewing scripture this way.  Paul and other New Testament writers are constantly taking natural, everyday experiences of Greek culture and pulling from it a Spiritual reality.  Sounds familiar right?  No one knew how to do this better than Jesus did, He was a teller of parables, and the greatest Teacher that ever lived.  And, His disciples were imitating his techniques well.  Take an everyday cultural reality and turn it into a spiritual lesson.  Only now the gospel was moving way beyond Jerusalem and the apostles were having to pull from a much larger and wider culture for their lessons…Greek Culture.

I hope to hit on a few of these occurrences in scripture as they come to me over the next few weeks….in between my ravings about tasty Greek food…the star of course being baklava…ahem.

Until then,

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  1. [...] So what did Paul mean when he said that they had many instructors but, not many fathers?  What was the difference between an instructor and a father in Ancient Greek culture?  Ken Sheldon talks about the role of the guardian or instructor in his book, “If I Were a Kid in Ancient Greece.” (I highly recommend this book for kids-or moms and dads-who want to learn about Ancient Greece and talk about it in this post.) [...]

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