Kent Dobson put this together, and I think he did a fine job.
From the publisher:
Experience the Bible through the eyes of a first-century disciple by exploring the cultural, religious, and historical background of the Bible. This Bible allows you to understand God’s Word in its original cultural context, bringing Scripture to life by providing fresh understanding to familiar passages, beloved stories and all the Scripture in between. The NIV First-Century Study Bible invites you into the questions, stories, and interpretations—both ancient and modern—which introduce you to a world vastly different from your own. Let us read with an eye on the past and with our feet planted in our present questions and circumstances.
Join Kent Dobson as he unpacks the culture of Bible times, and illuminates Scripture passages while asking thoughtful questions along the way. Kent is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, where he initially served as the worship director. He has been featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. Kent fell in love with Biblical studies in Israel and had the privilege of learning from both Jewish and Christian scholars. After his time in Israel, he returned to the States to teach high school religion and Bible before responding to God's call to the pastorate. Today, he keeps his connection to the Holy Land strong as he leads tours to Israel that combine study and prayer, inspired by the ancient discipline of spiritual pilgrimage.
My take:There are a couple aspects of this that I really love. One is the word studies scattered throughout. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek -- Dobson has studied all three, and I love that they are all included. Judges 19:22 has a study on the word "wicked" -- the Hebrew word beliyyaal. This "refers to the morally depraved and could also be translated 'destructive' or 'base.' Elsewhere the expression is associated with idolatry, drunkenness and rebellion..." Ezra 4:13 does a study on "Taxes" -- specifically the Aramaic word mindah. It tells that this word is probably derived from Akkadian, "describing a fixed annual tax paid to the king." Luke 22:11 does a study on "Guest Room" or katalyma. "This is the same Greek word Luke used when he said Mary and Joseph could find no 'guest room (2:7). This gives the book of Luke a kind of literary frame. Jesus had finally found a 'guest room' where he could celebrate his final meal before his death."
Another aspect I really love is how Dobson continually brings up discussions by ancient commentaries (and some not-so-ancient ones too). One thing shown in all of this is that the questions we ask about the Bible are not all that new. The whole 'great conversation' aspect of classical literature applies at least as much to the Bible as it does to Homer. I really appreciate that he is specifically including rabbinical and very early Church teachings. Even when they are contradictory and raise more questions than they answer.
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