8 Best Books About The History Of The Bible Update 05/2022

Books About The History Of The Bible

There are ten books in this list that will help you stop trying to figure out what Bible verses mean and start understanding what the authors were trying to get across. These books about Bible backgrounds will show you how words, phrases, and whole books in the Bible came to mean what they did in their cultural context. If you want to know how the Bible can help us today, you first need to know how it changed the way people talked and lived in ancient near eastern cultures. So, read these books now. Process them together. As you study the Bible, you can refer to them. I now give you the top 10 Bible study books about the history and culture of the Bible.

IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old & New Testament – John Walton & Craig Keener

IVP Bible Background Commentary Old & New Testament - John Walton & Craig Keener

If you have the Logos Bible App, two books are available that are organized by chapter and verse so you can quickly find important historical information that could help you understand the language in a verse. For Bible study, this is your best tool. The content is limited in both depth of background information and verses with commentary, but its usable design and easy introductions to most important data make it your best choice. In Revelation 3:14-16, Jesus tells Laodicea that they should be hot or cold, not lukewarm. This will change how you think about that.

NOTE: Click the links at the end of each book description to read how the historical background data in that book changes the meaning of the Bible verses in that book.

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament – John Walton 

The old testament had to show how its beliefs were different from those of other people who lived in the ancient Near East. Some of the Old Testament passages that people don’t understand because they don’t know how to read them in context are explained in this scholarly but easy-to-follow survey. It will change how you read the story of how God made the world in Genesis 1.

New Testament and the People of God – NT Wright

When you want to understand the New Testament, you need to know what Second Temple Judaism was like from the time Jews came back from exile under Persia to when Jesus came under Roman rule. When people used Hebrew prophets to paint a picture of what God would do next, NT Wright changes how people thought about Jesus’ movement and the early church. How Daniel 7 is read by him will change how you think about Jesus’ claims that God’s Son will come on clouds in great glory (Matt 24:30).

New Testament Rhetoric – Ben Witherington 

People who write in the Greco-Roman style have a way of making points that we don’t notice until we learn about the rhetorical techniques they used to do so. We will keep interpreting many of Paul’s letters in a way that doesn’t make sense until we understand how each part of the book works together to achieve the goal of the whole book. When you learn from Ben Witherington how to find the Propositioin of Paul’s Argumentatio, the main point of Romans and Galatians comes to light. When we learn how to read an inclusio, we can quickly correct the mistake that Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good,” says that God will make our problems go away.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible – James Vanderkam 

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible - James Vanderkam

There’s a myth about what you might think was found at Qumran. This well-balanced introduction to the Dead Sea scrolls explains how the scrolls show us what scriptures people thought were important in Jesus’ time and how those scriptures shaped their expectations for what God would do next in history. Some of the stories you read in the Gospels will come to life again after you read the scrolls. They show how Jewish controversies in Jesus’ day and the messianic hopes of the time were depicted. You will find out where Jesus shared the same beliefs as the people who lived in Qumran, and where Jesus’ movement tried to come up with a more radical solution. People thought the Messiah would show up through miracles and resurrection because the scrolls echo Jesus’ announcement that the rich will be punished.

Backgrounds of Early Christianity – Everett Ferguson 

The expressions and issues in the New Testament were shaped by Greco-Roman and Jewish practices and ideas. This introduction takes you on a long journey through the local and empire-wide dynamics that shaped the conversation of the early church. Reading Josephus’s description of Jewish revolutionaries will help you figure out how Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t need the political power that Jewish Zealots fought for (John 18:36).

 Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah – George Nickelsburg

It’s because we haven’t heard the other voices in Jewish discussions about God’s people, his Messiah, and the next big thing God is going to do in the world. There are Jewish commentaries in Nickelsburg’s collection that will help you understand what the New Testament talks about. They also have apocalyptic visions of God’s final work for his people. There were no 400 years of silence between the two Testaments. Instead, there were lively discussions in many documents that changed the meaning of many Old Testament passages. You’ll see how Jewish eschatologies from Enoch to 4 Ezra will change your understanding of Revelation. The Halakic Letter from Qumran will show you how Paul’s opponents argued for “works of the law,” and 4 Maccabees will show how Jewish substitutionary atonement theology is found in the Gospel of Mark. Psalm of Solomon 17 will show why Jesus was not the Messiah his Jewish followers had hoped for.

On the Reliability of the Old Testament – Kenneth Kitchen

In this video, you’ll learn about how the Old Testament and artifacts from the Ancient Near East have a lot in common. The parallels will show why God made his Covenant with Israel the way he did and how Israel’s history fit into the bigger picture in the area. How you read the early parts of the Bible will change because of this linguistic, textual, and archaeological study. It will also correct the idea that 2 to 3 million Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus (Exodus 12:37).

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