Biblical Cultures

Course Description:

This module is designed as an introduction to key aspects of Biblical cultures that form a background for understanding the message and the God of the Bible. Students will look at the background to the events and worldview of the Bible.  They will be encouraged to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the chronology and geography of the Bible as well as the socio-cultural and religious aspects of the Scriptures.  They will also apply this understanding to the translation of a biblical text or use it to compare an aspect of biblical culture with a similar aspect of their own culture.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the following knowledge, skills and attitudes:


  • the basic geography of the biblical lands
  • the chronology of the Bible
  • some of the important aspects of biblical cultures and worldview such as religion (both Israelite and that of the surrounding peoples), social organisation and daily life (see course contents)
  • reasons why people need to understand the background behind the biblical text
  • ways people misunderstand the message of the Bible if they fail to understand its context.
  • either:
    • some of the important ways their cultures are similar to and different from biblical cultures in important respects   or:
    • how the knowledge of aspects of biblical culture aids in the comprehension and translation of a text


  • a growing skill in looking for and using resources
  • ability to write up and present orally their own research
  • use of new knowledge to inform their work in translation, Scripture Engagement or anthropology


  • readiness to ask questions of the text and its meaning in the context of the culture for which it was originally written
  • willingness to put aside a first impression of what a text means from the perspective of their own culture or religious tradition
  • desire for integrity in their work including an avoidance of plagiarism