Byberg 2010 – Richard Rohrbaugh

May 3, 4 & 5, 2010

Trinity Lutheran Church
812 N 5th St
Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

Through Mediterranean Eyes

The New Testament was not written for 21st century Americans. Rather, it speaks the language, metaphors and issues of the ancient Mediterranean world. In the same way, Jesus spoke primarily to and about Mediterranean peasants. It was their lives that provided the material for the stories he told and it was to them that he announced the coming kingdom of God. His audience could never have imagined the fast-paced, individualistic, guilt-oriented, introspective lives of modern Americans. For Americans, reading the Bible is therefore quite similar to a cross-cultural conversation — subject to all kinds of cultural misunderstanding.
 So how did ancient Mediterranean peasants understand Jesus’ stories?    Did they see in them the same things we do? Or did they pick up things we miss? Moreover, is it possible that we unknowingly import our culture into the stories, thereby distorting what they once meant? In this workshop we will look at a series of stories in the Gospel of Luke in order to ask: How did Jesus’ stories look through Mediterranean eyes? And is it possible for 21st century Americans to cross the cultural divide and gain common ground with the ancient peasant audience of Jesus?

Richard Rohrbaugh

Richard Rohrbaugh is the Paul S. Wright Professor of Christian Studies at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He teaches the courses on Jewish and Christian origins, including courses on both the Old and New Testaments.
His special area of research is the anthropology of the early Christian period and especially the social and cultural world 
of the New Testament. He is the author of six books exploring the social and cultural context of the earliest Christian writings, especially the Gospels in the New Testament.

Session One: Social Scientific Criticism

Session Two: The Evil Eye

Session Three: Origins of Social Sciences and the Parable of the Talents

Session Four: The Hermeneutical Question in Parable of the Wicked Tenants

Materials in PDF: