That a culture gap exists between the men of the New Testament and any modern man is obvious. But Christians do not seem to have worried much about it until recently. They have accepted the Bible as the Word of God and have simply assumed that what is written is valid for all time. Now and then adjustments have had to be made as we reckon with different customs and habits of thought. But it has not been held to be an insuperably difficult process.
In recent times, however, quite a number of New Testament scholars have been concerned about the culture gap. They have pointed out that in the world of the New Testament everybody thought differently from modern people. In that prescientific age the universe was seen as a “three decker.” Curious explanations of natural phenomena were often offered. People thought of spirits as inhabiting rocks and trees and sometimes people. Josephus tells a story of an exorcism performed by a certain Eleazar in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian. The exorcist had a ring containing under its seal one of the roots Solomon held to be efficacious. He put this ring to the nose of the demoniac and drew the devil out through the man’s nostrils. He made the demon overturn a cup of water a little way off so that people would know that it had really come out of the man. It is doubtful whether any considerable number of people in our culture would regard this as a credible account. But evidently Josephus thought it perfectly feasible and the kind of thing in which his readers would be interested.
What some scholars are saying is that the transition from that world to ours is more difficult than Christians have usually assumed. They point out that every culture is a totality of interlocking ideas. It is ...1
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