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Liturgical Press

Cultural Tools for Interpreting the Good News

John J. Pilch

Cultural Tools for Interpreting the Good News
Cultural Tools for Interpreting the Good News

ISBN: 9780814628263, 2826

Details: 88 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 07/01/2002
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How can reading the Bible in its appropriate Mediterranean cultural context shed light on concerns of believers who live in Western or other cultures? In Cultural Tools for Interpreting the Good News, John J. Pilch presents a basic introduction to the ancient Middle Eastern culture in which the Bible originated. A brief review of the life of Jesus from birth to death and resurrection guides the selection of biblical text segments to illustrate key cultural concepts so that believers may appropriate the Bible for personal or community life.

Chapter one examines the core Middle Eastern cultural concepts honor and shame as they are reflected in the stories about Jesus' origins and his behavior in adulthood. Chapter two describes how Jesus grew up to become a typical and successful male in his culture. Chapter three presents Jesus as a Holy Man in his tradition who announces the reign of God especially in parables. Chapter four shows how Jesus sought to establish the reign of God especially in his healing activities and by offering fresh insights into the appearances of the Risen Jesus.

Chapters are "Honor and Shame," “How a Mediterranean Boy Becomes a Man,” “Jesus Announces the Reign of God,” “Jesus Seeks to Establish the Reign of God.”

John J. Pilch, a highly-regarded biblical scholar and author, taught at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and passed away in 2016. Among his numerous publications are The Cultural World of Jesus, The Cultural World of the Apostles, and The Cultural World of the Prophets series published by Liturgical Press.


True to his solid biblical scholarly approach, John Pilch guides the reader into meeting the Mediterranean "Man" Jesus by presenting the lenses of this Mediterranean culture. He sketches for us an understanding of “Honor” as the core value of this culture at the time of Jesus. Acquiring honor and knowing more about the cultures perspective on shame, healing and their reign of God are but a few new insights given into the life and parables of Jesus. Clearly by knowing the Mediterranean culture as one enters into the Scriptures is critical in our perspective of receiving the message of Jesus.
Joanne Prei

John Pilch continues his timely work on the cultural and pastoral dimensions of the Scriptures. The writing is fast-paced, practical, and engaging; while the ‘cultural tools' are accessible, clear, and well-illustrated. This is a great addition to our biblical toolkit.
David Valtierra, CO, Scripture Institute at The Oratory, Rock Hill, South Carolina