SEEK THE CONTEXT: Biblical Texts, Language, Cultural Background & Meaning. Context Changes Everything!

Context, Terminology, and Translation

Context, Terminology, and Translation

In this article, I want to discuss the importance of context, terminology and precise translation of the original text (be it Greek or Hebrew). When it comes to the interpretation of biblical texts and conclusions drawn from them these building blocks are the foundation. Theology cannot exist without interpretation and interpretation rests on the accurate examination of the sacred text.

In a well-known movie “The Matrix” a lead character Morpheus tells a young programmer who wants to understand how the world around him really works, how it is all an illusion, a computer program. He offers him a choice “Take the blue pill, wake up and forget we have met. Take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes”. The “rabbit hole” is a reference to Lewis Carrol’s story “Alice in Wonderland”. In Carrol’s tale, Alice discovers a strange and bizarre world when she follows the rabbit deep into his whole.

What does any of this have to do with context, terminology, and translation? Sometimes when I invite people to examine a biblical text deeper and in context, I feel like Morpheus. Especially if it is a well-known Bible verse that people think they actually understand.

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I am an educator, researcher, a faculty member and an avid believer in online education. My specialties are Sacred Texts and Cultures (Second Temple period, early Judaism and nascent Christianity). I am passionate about meaning, context, and cultural transmission of ancient texts. My preoccupations with history, ancient languages and contextual interpretation often find expression in my blog posts. Every human has a pretext, every message has a context. Context changes everything! Enjoy reading.