Understanding biblical people's cultural context is an important skill in biblical literacy. Why were certain animals not okay to eat? Why are people in the Bible always sacrificing animals? What did they use for money, and what did people do for a living? Dr. Martin Albl, a gifted biblical teacher and writer, is clear and to the point in addressing these topics and more. His mini-encyclopedia on biblical life and times will raise your scriptural knowledge and understanding to the next level!
Two comprehensive indexes help readers identify topics of interest that would send them to biblical passages, or if they are studying a particular passage, they can find relevant articles.
Copyright: Sept. 1, 2009
Size: 6 x 9
Length: 168 pages
what people are saying about Saint Mary's Press® Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times
Martin Albl's lucid reflection on biblical life and times is an indispensable basic travel guide for young Americans who may not yet have appreciated the Bible as an ancient Middle Eastern document about Middle Easterners written by Middle Easterners for Middle Easterners. Fifty brief reflections on fundamental concepts documented with appropriate biblical references introduce the reader to that very different country and culture. This book will help students to understand their ancestors in faith and to respect their very different way of living a life pleasing to God.
Review by John J. Pilch, visiting professor of Scripture, Georgetown University
Martin Albl combines biblical scholarship with a strong pastoral sense and an engaging readable style in this high school level biblical encyclopedia. His short introduction clarifies how to read the Bible both as God's revelation and as written in human language and within ancient human cultures. His topics explain the most important questions teenagers are likely to have when they read from the Bible. His answers responsibly explain passages they would find strange, shocking, or counter-cultural to contemporary customs, faithfully conveying the biblical teaching in biblical stories with references to key passages and cross-references to other topics in the book. I found the book not only enlightening and using contemporary scholarship, but also fun to read, which may well be its most important quality.
Review by William S. Kurz, S.J., professor of New Testament, Marquette University
This is a great resource for teens and catechists who desire deeper insights into interpretation of biblical writings. I found myself thinking, Wow! I didn't know that! or This puts a different perspective on this passage. Each topic is presented in an age-appropriate, comprehensive format for teens, using common language and imagery, with lots of clarifying information and examples. This book is full of definitions that are clear and concise, followed by references to specific biblical passages.
Saint Mary's Press® Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times is the book to have if you are looking for a resource to help you understand Scripture from the cultural and social contexts from which it was written. I recommend this guide as a great tool for defending against fundamentalism and an excellent resource for deepening one's Bible literacy.
Review by Laurie Watson, pastoral associate, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona, MN
reviews of Saint Mary's Press® Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times
Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch, November, 2009
In order to better understand the Bible, one must understand its time of origin. Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times is a guide to better understanding the biblical society of thousands of years ago and making it known to modern readers who live in a radically different society, where slavery isn't something socially accepted, women are not considered property, and death isn't the penalty for all major transgressions. Enlightening and a key proponent to better understanding the Bible to the fullest, Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Timesis a solid and highly recommended resource, sure to help readers better grasp the Bible.
The Bible Today, July/August, 2010
Reading the Bible is like visiting a foreign land. One needs all the help one can get with the language, culture, and institutions. Albl has provided such a guide covering the social and political institutions, customs, beliefs and values, and economic structures of the peoples one encounters in the Bible. There are 50 topics, each divided into several articles and ending in a list of related passages and themes, also tracing developments and/or variations from the Old Testament to the New. For example, the topic of food and drink (pp. 54-61) has articles on bread, bread in the sacrifices, Jesus as bread of life, wine, wine at the Last Supper, milk and honey, meat, grapes, vegetables, grains, salt, food laws, and clean and unclean animals and a suggested rationale for this division. The book is written for high school and college students.
Catholic Library World, June, 2010
We all have struggled at times to understand some particular biblical reference, allusion, or metaphor, and we understand our struggle because the writers of the Scriptures lived in a very different society and culture from the modern world in which we live. Every writer, even those divinely inspired, by necessity must reflect in his writing on the world in which he writes. Dr. Albl's book will aid us to understand these culturally encoded passages from the Bible reflecting the pastoral/agrarian society in which they were written. Because of their relevance still today, we need a work like Albl's to help us in our biblical studies and reading. The work is very simply written, directed to young Bible students and as an aid for catechists.