This photo is a young man called Artemidoros, who died in the second century CE. Photo: The trustees of the British Museum. From an article in The New States Man called Sex and death in the classical world.
Short quote:“His mummy is a wonderful combination of the traditions of Egypt, Greece and Rome, and a brilliant example of the cultural mix of the ancient Mediterranean. On the casing are typically Egyptian scenes: a picture of a mummy being laid on a couch and those characteristically animal headed Egyptian gods. His name is Greek and is written in Greek across his front. “Artemidoros, farewell” it reads (albeit with a careless misspelling in the “farewell”). His face is a Roman portrait.”
It made me think how much Biblical language is mixed culture; borrowed words, descriptive text, treaties, war language, contracts, covenant language and more. Daniel uses Babylonian descriptors and Ezekiel uses Assyrian. In the epic's of Joseph and Moses Egyptian words are used. There are a few interesting parallels of the story of Joshua and Israel moving to attack Jericho and a ancient story in Ugarit (long before Joshua) of King Keret of Ugarit siege of a town. both had six days of siege and on the seventh of action which may be a common battle method of the times.
NT times can be viewed somewhat closer to our own time:
Think how much English influences language in our world today. Better, think how many words we use in our English that are from other languages. We have standard World deploymacy documents, treaty documents, export/import papers, etc. So even with the different laws and requirements of each Nation they can still be read and understood by all. Abraham and descendants may be right at home with these as it was his business being a merchant and trader.
I bring this up because when reading/studying the Bible we may miss important points because we don't understand what the writer is saying or showing with the language or imaging. God isn't dealing with Israel in some abstract way but in ways they know and understand; the Covenant declarations are common document methods of use for the time.
Abraham took over the Family business and handed it to next in line and so on. In his talk with God before Sodom and Gomorrah he used common negotiating language used in talking to a King or one in power. Moses was the perfect person to go to Pharaoh. He knew and understood how things worked in Egypt.
Jesus beat the leaders of Israel at their own game in their discussions. Used common culture, daily life and land descriptors sharing his message. When everyone seemed confused he always made sure to explain to his disciples. Later the writers used known writing techniques to highlight and point to important points of each teaching, lesson and life of Jesus.
These writers of the Bible were well learned, well read, well experienced in their craft and most of all inspired.
(Edited: My tired eyes scrampled some names and missed up doing copy and paste. Sorry!)
I have on my bookshelf a fascinating book by Kenneth E. Bailey called "Through Peasant Eyes". It is a literary-cultural approach to 10 parables found in Luke. In addition to growing up in Egypt, he also served as chairman of the Biblical Department at the Near Eastern School of Theology in Beirut so he was very familiar with both urban and rural culture. What I didn't know before reading this book was that some of the parables were familiar stories to his listeners but instead of telling the familiar tale, Jesus gives them an unexpected twist that catches the attention of his listeners.