Social and Cultural Texture

As a part of the socio-rhetorical approach introduced by Robbins, the social and cultural texture applies notions of sociological and anthropological theory to the examination of scripture. (Robbins, 1996, p. 71) This approach is more about the social and cultural nature as a text than it is the intertexture of a text. (Robbins, 1996, p. 71) In other words, social and cultural texture explores the world the text creates. (Czachesz, 1995, p. 23) DaSilva stated that the use of social and cultural texture, as well as the world of socio-rhetorical tools, has the potential to refine and rework the application of fields such as sociology to New Testament texts. (DaSliva, 1999, p.66) This is opening up a greater understanding of scriptural text and providing more clarity. This clarity is provided by exploring social and cultural texture through three areas of focus: specific social topics, common social and cultural topics, and final cultural categories. (Robbins, 1996)

Specific social topics look at the religious responses of individuals to the world around them, yielding seven distinct responses. (Robbins, 1996, p. 72) Each of the responses takes a different perspective on the responsibility of people, the nature and function of the world, and the existence of evil and good.

Those who belong to the culture know Common Social and Cultural topics consciously or instinctively, which are often unknown to the interpreter without deeper study. Understanding these commonalities help the interpreter stay away from ethnocentric and anachronistic interpretations of scripture. (Robbins, 1996, p. 75)

Last, Final Cultural Categories seeks to understand the cultural status, rather than social status, of those involved in the text. This places people in terms of “dominant culture, subculture, counterculture, contraculture, and liminal culture. (Robbins, 1996, p. 86)

What ethnocentric approaches to scripture are avoided through the use of this texture?


Czachesz, I. (1995). Socio-Rhetorical Exegesis of Acts 9:1-30. Communio Viatorum, 37(1), 5–32.

DeSilva, D. A. (1999). A sociorhetorical interpretation of Revelation 14:6-13: a call to act justly toward the just and judging God. Bulletin for Biblical Research, 9, 65–117.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International.

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