I remember being in RCIA, and one of our leaders wouldn't just share a verse in the bible, but also tell you what the cultures were like during that time. It made the verses make much more sense, and to whom they were writing to. That included way of life, cultural traditions, family life, towns, etc. Are there any websites or books that share about those cultures from Genesis to Revelations?
When I lead parish Bible studies, I like to add the kind of information your RCIA teacher did-- it makes the Bible come so much more alive and sometimes it is critical background to understanding the text. I rely most on good Catholic Bible commentaries (like the Navarre Bible Commentary and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible- New Testament). I also find a couple of Protestant references helpful including The Archaeological Study Bible, New Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, and a comprehensive Bible dictionary.
Another good way to find a lot of interesting and helpful background info for Bible study is to listen to good Catholic Scripture teachers. Look up St. Joseph’s Communications on the web and order some of the great audio Bible studies they offer from teachers like Scott Hahn, Michael Barber, Steve Ray, Jeff Cavins, and others.
The Liturgical Press has a series of books, “The Cultural World of The Prophets/Jesus/Apostles” , that I like to use when preparing to read for Sunday. I’m not sure if they are still in print.