Historical_Analysis - Introduction to the New Testament...

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Introduction to the New Testament Summary Sheet: Historical Interpretation What is Historical Investigation ? The literature of the New Testament was written around 2000 years ago in a cultural world very different from our world. Therefore, intelligent and respectful interpretation will be sensitive to issues surrounding the historical distance between the contemporary reader and the ancient text. Critical issues include: languages; cultures; ways of thought; symbols, traditions, and events; political, social, and economic conditions of the era; and so forth. Such historical inquiry consists of sifting through ancient documents (both canonical [for example, Mark’s Gospel] as well as non-canonical works [for example, Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews]) for historical data. Appreciation of the historical context of the New Testament writings will be helped by the attempt to track down allusions to persons, places, times, social and political circumstances, customs, and beliefs not automatically known to modern readers. By such means of inquiry modern readers can reconstruct the “world” of the text. Actually, Paul Ricoeur, an influential philosopher and literary critic of the twentieth century, has suggested that it is helpful to think of the “Three Worlds of the Text”: the world behind the text, the world of the text, and the world in front of the text. This distinction is in fact useful for structuring historical inquiry. The World Behind the Text
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Historical_Analysis - Introduction to the New Testament...

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