The Bible in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Article excerpt

The Bible in Cross-Cultural Perspective. By Jacob A. Loewen. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2000. Pp. xv, 334. Paperback $22.99.

Social science findings and methods (e.g., participant observation, qualitative study) are widely used by missionaries. Yet social science and theology have sometimes been uneasy and uncomfortable allies. Polite conversation, intermittent deafness, serious disagreement-and some real dialogue and collaboration-have marked their relationship.

Jacob Loewen-Mennonite, missionary, Bible translator, linguist, and anthropologist-brings to this book a lifetime of experience, a measure of wisdom, a shelf of scholarship, and a compassionate heart. His anthropological, theological, and biblical synthesis and analysis is full of insight and helpful suggestion.

First, the author presents culture as the framework for, and formative influence on human lives, giving an overview (helpfully long on information, frustratingly short on dates) of the many cultures and periods covered by the biblical record. He then shapes the book around biblical topics, under three overarching cultural/anthropological themes: the universe, God and the sacred, and the significance of names. …