Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Frank Turk offers an example of why hermeneutics (what/how we extract meaning from text) is important. I’ll offer a quote to spur discussion:

It is curious, to say the least, that many Americans read the Bible and claim to understand what its authors mean. For early Christian authors and their audiences were radically different from contemporary US Bible readers in the way they though of persons. Americans inevitably consider persons individualistically, as psychologically unique beings. [...] in fact, first-century Mediterranean persons never thought psychologically in the way we do. Even speaking of those human beings as “persons” is somewhat of an anachronism since there is no word for “person” in Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. [...]

First-century Mediterraneans knew other people “socially,” in terms of gender-based roles, in terms of the groups in which the person was ever embedded, and with constant concern for public rewards of respect and honor.

From The Social World of Jesus and the Gospels by Bruce J. Malina. I’ve only read the first few chapters so far, but its a fascinating read, applying linguistics and social anthropology to Biblical hermeneutics.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift
More on: Biblical Studies

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles