Taking the Bible text seriously, in all its various contexts – David Instone-Brewer

Bible Contexts Series b Dr David Instone-Brewer

Dr David Instone-Brewer has asked me to share this very useful resource:

The Bible is an ancient book with timeless wisdom, historical integrity and many puzzles.  When we read it in the context of their lifestyle, literature, and language, the Bible speaks to us like it did to its original audience.

When we grasp these contexts, we become gripped by the excitement of historical stories, the controversial views of prophetic messengers, and the unexpected simplicity of its teaching.

Dr David Instone-Brewer
David Instone-Brewer

Dr David Instone-Brewer has drawn together the background information discovered by scholars that he’s met (and some that he hasn’t), and presents straightforward conclusions that unfold the meaning of the literal text.

All the chapters of the Scripture in Context series from Lexham Press will be freely available on this site, though only a few at a time. There’s more every month, so there is always something interesting to read. If you share a chapter on social media, that link should remain active even after the end of the month, so you can continue discussing and digesting it.

Each 15-minute chapter is self-contained with a compact introduction to the topic and a presentation of the newest information and insights in plain language. These are books for people interested in deep questions who don’t have much time for reading. The books themselves are great for giving to someone who may find church boring but has a questioning mind. 

Visit the Bible Contexts website here

Wardle’s History and Religion of Israel on-line

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

Walter L. Wardle’s The History and Religion of Israel forms the first volume in the Clarendon Bible series. It contains numerous plates which are included in greyscale to preserve their quality. The supplement “The Old Testament Chronologically Arranged” by Evelyn Waters Hippisley [1878-1968] is not included as it is still in copyright. This title is in the public domain.

Walter Landsell Wardle [1877-1946], The History and Religion of Israel. Thomas Strong [1861-1944], Herbert Wild [1865-1940] & George Herbert Box [1869-1933], General Editors, The Clarendon Bible. Old Testament, Vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936. Hbk. pp.228. [Click to visit the main download page]

Table of Contents

  • Editor’s Preface
  • Author’s Preface
  1. Introductory
  2. Israel’s Origins
  3. The Period of the Judges
  4. Thr Rise of the Kingdom
  5. The Divided Kingdoms
  6. The Exile and the Perian Period
  7. The Background of the Religion
  8. Moses and Yahweh
  9. THe Influence of Canaanite Religion on the Religion of Israel
  10. Law
  11. The Development of Prophecy
  12. The Writing Prophets
  13. The Later Literature
  14. Israel’s Debt to Other Nations
  • Index
  • Chronological Table [Not included]

Editor’s Preface

The problem of the teaching of Holy Scripture at the present time presents many difficulties. There is a large and growing class of persons who feel bound to recognize that the progress of archaeological and critical studies has made it impossible for them to read, and still more to teach, it precisely in the old way. How-ever strongly they may believe in inspiration, they cannot any longer set before their pupils, or take as the basis of their interpretation, the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture. It is with the object of meeting the requirements not only of the elder pupils in public schools, their teachers, students in training colleges, and others engaged in education, but also of the clergy and the growing class of the general public, which, we believe, takes an interest in Biblical studies, that the present series has been projected….

Everyday Life in Byzantine Lycaonia

The following article by Sir William M. Ramsay is now available in PDF. This material is in the Public Domain and so can be freely distributed and copied.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], “A Country Town of Lycaonia. A Description of the Conditions of Christian Life under the Eastern Empire,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 41 (1909): 36-46.

A Country Town of Lycaonia

My subject is an attempt to set before you some slight picture of the main facts in the life of a country town in the centre of Anatolia in the province called in ancient time Lycaonia, during the Byzantine Empire. Now we read a great deal in books, in ancient history, and in the history of the Church about that period, but historians concern themselves chiefly with great men, the great religious leaders, generals, and statesmen; with the rarest exceptions we find nothing whatsoever with regard to the practical facts of life among the common people in that country during the period when these great men were living and working. There is some literary material, which has still to be collected, with regard to the life of that period in the private letters of Basil and other great men, which give a great deal of material for the facts of ordinary life. The ordinary people made it possible for Churchmen to exercise their leading power, for generals to have .armies to conduct to victory or defeat; and without the knowledge of their common life, a knowledge of history becomes one-sided and misleading in the highest degree. We want therefore to know something of the common people, the way they live, their surroundings, their views of life, and how far they were affected by the great Church leaders, generals and statesmen.

The question may be asked with regard to the Byzantine Empire; Is it worth while to take up our time in making out some picture of a period rightly regarded as a period of decay in the history of the world? There is no doubt that Gibbons’ title, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, is correct. The fall was in great measure due to the pressure of what was going on in the Byzantine Empire, that is in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Two remarks will bring out the importance of life in the Byzantine Empire.

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