Historical Context Assignment Instructions



Each student will write a 400 – 500-word exegetical essay describing the historical-cultural context of their selected passage. This essay should be based primarily on a close reading of the New Testament book in which the Quiz: Selected Passage is found. Therefore, students should prepare for their essay by following the inductive methoddescribed below while referring to the concepts covered in the assigned reading and course materials.



Please do not consult textbooks, commentaries, or other resources until you have worked through the scenario and method below.


Here is the inductive method you will use to construct the essay:


  1. Adopt the mindset of a detective or researcher. Imagine that you’ve discovered an ancient text buried deep in the archives of theScriptoriumin the Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University (this sort of thing happens in libraries from time to time).You have been tasked with deciphering the hand-written Greek text and presenting a reportabout it to the Dean of the School of Divinity. The Dean will be addressing the media with information about the discovery, so you will need to determine, as best as possible, the following information:
    • who wrote the text;
    • when it was written,
    • where it was written;
    • to whom it was addressed and sent;
    • what purpose it served in those historical circumstances;
    • and whether it is a forgery or fake (those do exist in the antiquities market).


There is no textbook to grab that will give you these answers; you are the expert since you’re the only person alive who has read the text. Therefore, the only guidance you have is the information in the text itself. Only be as precise as the information in the text allows you to be. For the sake of getting into the right mindset and maintaining good method, it might help you to pretend that no book such as this exists in the New Testament; though you are able to compare what you find in it to the other books of the New Testament.


  1. You must draft a report (400 – 500 words) for your Dean, presenting this information, as best you can discern it, from the text. Since the Dean will be addressing the media about the discovery, any statement about the text’s historical circumstances/context will need to be supported with evidence. Therefore, when you describe the date or author, you need to include the evidence from the text that led you to your conclusions (use chapter and verse citations). Evaluate the evidence so that your Dean knows how confident you are of the information and conclusions in your report.


  1. As part of your report, focusespecially on the passage previously selected. Based on the information you’ve given the Dean about broader historical questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how?), do you think there are any historical or cultural issues that the Dean should be aware of when the media ask questions about the meaning of the passage? Are there any events, customs, titles, activities, social structures, or concepts that reflect the ancient historical culture/setting, which might have an impact on how people today interpret the meaning of this passage in the ancient text? The Dean will need to tell the media what plans the Divinity School has for further historical-cultural research of the text and this focal passage. So, your report should prepare the Dean with a recommendation.



The essay should be 400 – 500 words in 12 point, Times New Romans font. Format per the Turabian guidelines. The purpose of the scenario above is to help you get into the kind of mindset that it will take to do well on this assignment. The point is to read the text itself and reconstruct the historical-cultural context based on a close reading of the internal evidence. Your course professor does not need to read a report about what other scholars think; you are the expert! With that said, please just write the report that the scenario above calls for without elaborating on the scenario itself. This assignment requires your analysis, observations, and evaluation of the text.


Resources for Turabian formatting may be found in the Online Writing Center. Your paper should follow the footnote method of citation.


Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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