Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
Perfect to frame the discussions of your family worship or a church-wide study.


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Definition of word.

reader's background knowledge
read-er's back-ground know-ledge

A reader’s background knowledge is the sum total of his knowledge which he brings to his reading experience. A reader’s experiential knowledge greatly influences the depth of his insights as he reads. The more the reader knows, the easier it is to learn more. One who struggles over basic vocabulary words will forfeit much time learning new words. (See vocabulary.)

For example, an attorney has a special advantage when reading the Mosaic Law. Likewise, a person who is well-traveled throughout Israel and the Mediterranean will have greater ease envisioning the geographical aspects sprinkled throughout the Bible. Furthermore, Philip the evangelist knew of Jesus’ sacrificial death. This allowed Philip to understand Isaiah 53 while the Ethiopian eunuch felt he could not understand the Scripture “except some man should guide" him (Ac. 8:31). Based upon the number of quotes from the Old Testament, Matthew’s gospel presumed that his audience was familiar with the Old Testament.

Some literary devices employed by biblical characters presumed background knowledge. Parables, metaphors, and similes were designed to utilize a reader's preexisting knowledge to build new understanding on a comparable subject. When God questioned His people asking, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29), the questions presumed that His audience knew of fire's consuming power and the hammer's shattering strength.

Background knowledge lends a natural advantage to adults over children who have very little life experience. For this reason, it is incumbent upon parents to explain the Scripture to their children (Dt. 6:7).  A reader's background knowledge is the key aspect of the pragmatic cueing system.

Also see author's background knowledge.

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.