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Bible Manners and Customs by George Mackie

There are three principal advantages connected with this study of Bible Manners and Customs.

1.  It helps us to understand better the life and character of the men and women of the Bible. --  …The more we know about their human life and its conditions, the better we shall understand what the word of God did for them and through them.  One of the advantages, therefore, of this study is to impart to our reading of the Bible that sense of reality…
2.  It explains and emphasizes the figurative language of Scripture. -- …Such figurative language is much used and appreciated by Orientals…. The most persuasive form of argument in the East is to show that something in conduct or character corresponds with something in nature.  Both in Hebrew and in Arabic a proverb means a resemblance, and this fact of resemblance lies at the root all Oriental wise sayings….As the Bible abounds in such figurative language, it is important that in our reading of it we should know the objects, occasions, and customs from which it was originally drawn. -- e.g. Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches, cf, “Apart from me, ye can do nothing” -- both cases state the same fact of dependence, but the first with a figure.
3.  It explains the relationship of the Divine and human elements in the Bible.

As the fitly-spoken word of man must have suitable conditions of time, place, and circumstance, so it is with the word of God addressed to man… so the word of revelation shines in a setting of human disposition, domestic incident, social customs, and amid special surroundings of climate, country, and race…When the human element is recognised within its own limits, it implies at the same time a clearer recognition of that spiritual power working in and with the Bible, whatever our names, definitions, and theories about it…[We study the Oriental customs] to endeavour to know more about the people of the Bible, to understand its spiritual language more clearly, and to learn how God’s grace was entrusted to earthen vessels, and His power passed through human channels…

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Laying a foundation for Biblical study

 We provide information regarding customs, figures of speech, and the Aramaic text of the New Testament, in order that the Bible may be understood more clearly.

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