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A Help In Understanding Daily Life in Biblical Times
on November 28, 2003
While the Bible is a fascinating book to read and study, it is easy to forget that the Bible was written over a long period of time. Though historians differ about exact dates, Abraham probably lived anywhere between 1,250 and 1,500 years prior to the birth of Christ, David probably lived about 750 to 1,000 years before Christ's birth, and between 587 B.C. and the writing of the New Testament, life changed almost daily. This is why understanding the daily life of different periods in Biblical history, and knowing that there were often vast differences in customs and practices in the differing periods, is so essential to understanding scripture. Life in Biblical times changed quickly just as much as life in our own day changes rapidly.
Biblical scholar Victor Matthews attempts to explain the life and customs in different Biblical periods in his book MANNERS AND CUSTOMS IN THE BIBLE. The book is divided into five major sections: The Patriarchal Period (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons), The Exile and Settlement (Moses, Joshua, and the Judges), The Monarchy, Exile and Return, and the Intertestamental and New Testament Era (The Persians, Greeks, and Romans). Nearly two thirds of the book covers the period prior to the writing of the New Testament, but this is actually a plus since there are many other resources that cover the New Testament. Readers get bits of information about warfare, government policies, family life, gender roles, marriage customs, business and trade, and a host of other small subjects that make the book interesting to browse through and a must have for scripture study.
Though the book is set up in chronological order, it is not really a comprehensive history of the Bible, but a supplement that enriches a historical text. It has a scriptural index which will help people involved in preaching and in research.
Certainly this book will be helpful for people who preach and conduct Bible studies, but it will also be of interest to anyone who wants to see how our day and age is both similar to, and differs from people of Biblical times.