Sunday's Scriptures in Context
Martin Luther described the Bible as the cradle that holds Christ. We read the whole of Scripture and find meaning through Christ.
The Book of Genesis
The book of Genesis was compiled from oral and written traditions probably brought together during the time of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Later parts may have been written down after the fall of Judah during the Babylonian exile (the promise of God to Abraham, joined with the stories about Jacob and Joseph, for instance, which would have given hope to the Jewish captives). It wasn't until the Greco-Roman period when Genesis and the other writings of the Pentateuch began to be attributed to Moses, one of the major figures in the stories of these writings. This reflects the custom among the Greeks of identifying authorship, which they believed conferred more authority and prestige on a work. Genesis combines old writings about creation and the flood with later priestly writings which relate Israel's experience of and relationship with God through the centuries.
The Book of 1 Corinthians
Paul's letters to the Corinthians, written between 53-55 C. E., give us a glimpse of what life was like in a 1st century Greco-Roman city and the challenges faced by the Christians there, some of whom were Jewish converts, others Gentiles who had formerly paid homage to many gods. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Asclepius, the god of healing, were favorites of the Corinthians, and Corinth was also a major center of Emperor worship. The city was ethnically diverse and very sophisticated, the home of a large theatre and a haven for philosophers. It was a place where a resourceful person, even a former slave, could get ahead. Just as it is in the large cities of our day, there was a sharp divide between rich and poor; so the Gospel, with its emphasis on justice and equality and the oneness of all believers in the crucified and risen God-man, regardless of status, must have seemed just as radical to the movers and shakers of Corinth as it does to our "it's all about me" society today. The Corinthian Christians were a contentious bunch. 1 Corinthians seems to be a call to unity and advice on issues that were causing division among them—they were in a mess. As the one who brought them to Christ, Paul is trying to bring them back to his teachings.
The Gospel according to St. Luke
The Gospel of Luke was probably written between 80 and 90 C.E. after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (70 C.E.). The books of Luke and Acts were written by the same person, possibly an educated Hellenic Jew, fluent in Greek with a fine literary style, who had become a follower of Christ. Scholars refer to the books as Luke/Acts and treat them as a double volume, meant to be read and studied together, because the story of Christ told in Luke then broadens into the story of the early Church in Acts. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus' ascension and the disciples in the Temple, waiting to begin their ministries; Acts begins with the ascension and the return of Jesus' Spirit, guiding the disciples to the successful completion of their mission. Luke shows how the beliefs and prophecies of the Jews had pointed to the coming of the Messiah. His leading characters, including a young woman named Mary, are all faithful Jews who know the promises of God and are ready when he returns to dwell with his people and usher in his Kingdom on earth; but the promise is not exclusively for them. The Jewish faith expected that when God's glory was revealed, all people would see it. That's Luke's point: the Messiah is good news for all people, Jew and Gentile alike, and all of creation. Harold W. Attridge, the Lilian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale University Divinity School says, "Luke's Jesus is very much interested in instilling compassion and forgiveness in his followers.... Jesus is probably at his most powerful in the gospel of Luke, from a variety of perspectives, as prophet, as healer, as savior, as benefactor."