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Historical and cultural background

Washington State University has a valuable introduction to Hebrew civilisation called ‘Questions about the Hebrews and Judaism’ which gives a broad introduction to the religious genius of the Jewish people as well as providing much historical and cultural background. The site traces the development of the Hebrew understanding of God from very early times during which it was beginning to differentiate itself from other ancient, near–eastern religions and religious practices up until the period immediately prior to the beginning of the Christian era.

 ‘Israel’ provides a brief definiton of the history of the country of Israel from the time of Jacob through to the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948-1949.  It includes a visual timeline and basic maps. A more extensive discussion can be found at ‘History of Israel.  

The Historical Context of the New Testament sets out some details of the political and social setting of first century Palestine and discusses the three major forces that were at work, contributing to and shaping the world into which Jesus came and in which the NT was written: Greek culture, the Roman Empire, and Jewish religion.  As Paul tells it ... continues this discussion while a New Testament Chronology provides an idea of dates and events mentioned in the New Testament as well as some key historic happenings.