Understanding Jesus' Words in the World of the First Century


by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)

Jennifer Greer, adjunct professor of Bible, served as the speaker for the 48th annual Thursday Evening Bible Class. Entitled "The Words and World of Jesus," the class invited participants to interact with maps, archaeological finds and extra-biblical literature related to selected gospel texts. In this way, attendees sought to enrich their reading of Scripture and knowledge of the ancient world that served as a backdrop for Jesus' words.

"Studying the historical, geographical, cultural and archaeological background of a text allows us to enter into the lives of the ancient people and helps us better understand what God was communicating to real people, in real time and in real places," Greer said. "This allows us to responsibly move from what the text meant then to what the text means today."

In her preparations for the class, Greer drew upon her extended travels in the Middle East and experience co-leading the annual GRTS Israel Study Tour with her husband Jonathan.

"When looking at the backgrounds of a text, there are many questions to ask," Greer said. "Where is the story geographically situated? What are the social and political factors at play in the context? What is happening in history? And what can we learn about groups mentioned in the text?

"The gospel stories of Jesus reveal to us God in the flesh and give a glimpse of the heart of God in the people that He touches, heals, forgives and walks alongside of. King Jesus entered the world and changed it to show us the kingdom that He desires and invites us to participate in. That's exciting to study and then challenging to live out."

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