In order to be an educated, responsible citizen in America, one needs to be biblically literate. No one could rightly claim to be a true intellectual, who has never read this powerful and exciting book that has transformed innumerable lives, influenced kings and presidents, and guided entire nations. The Bible has been the number one bestselling book each year since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1456. To what can we compare the Bible and its influence?
Patrick Henry said, “The Bible is a book worth more than all other books that were ever printed.” Thomas Jefferson, the first president of the Washington D.C. school board, adopted the Bible as a primary reader. Our U.S. laws are all based upon the Constitution which is a direct pattern of the Old English Law, which unashamedly proclaims its entire jurisprudence system to be based upon the Bible and the Ten Commandments.
English professors from leading colleges and universities all agree: “Knowledge of the Bible is a deeply important part of a good education.” Dr. George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History Emeritus at Brown University, stated, “Without such knowledge one reads productions of 19th century culture much in the manner of someone who tries to use a dictionary in which one-third of the words have been removed.” Another Ivy League professor elaborates:
“I can only say that if a student doesn’t know any Bible literature, he or she will simply not understand whole elements of Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth… The Bible has continued to be philosophically influential in Western, Eastern, now African cultures, and so to not know it—whether one is a Jew or Christian—seems to me not to understand world culture… English and American literature is simply steeped in biblical legends, morality, biblical figures, biblical metaphors, biblical symbols, and so it would be like not learning a certain kind of grammar or vocabulary and trying to speak the language or read the language.” ~Dr. Robert Kiely, Professor of English, Emeritus at Harvard University
When asked, “What kind of things are easier in your classroom for students who know something about the Bible?” professors responded:
- Being richer, more sophisticated students.
- Recognizing Biblical symbols and references in literature and art.
- Understanding how characterization in novels and thematic levels in poetry are linked to biblical allusions.
- Understanding and recognizing the idea of the Christ figure.
- Possessing a solid advantage in understanding Victorian art and literature.
- Understanding the parable genre.
- Doing literary analysis.
- Understanding questions of canonicity and non-biblical literature.
- Appreciating the tone of the politics of the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Discussing “meaning” and “values” with understanding and insight.
“The Bible, the holy book of Judaism and Christianity, is the most widely-known book in the English speaking world…. No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.” ~The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
Could censorship of the Bible in public schools be the reason for the growing dumbing down of America, threatening our means of communicating and gaining useful knowledge through the dominant symbol systems of our culture?
Students have not been given all the facts about the Bible’s history and influence. The results of a nationwide Gallop Poll survey released on April 26, 2005, concluded that while most American teenagers have a rudimentary understanding of the Bible, few have the depth of knowledge that would allow them to understand its influences on literature, art, music, history and culture. The survey questioned students ages 13 to 18.
Students have been denied their constitutional rights long enough. The content of the Bible should be taught in every school, at least as an elective class. The following resources support instruction of the Bible as a Literature, Humanities, or Social Science elective, and can be taught as a semester or year-long course.
Curriculum: The Bible and Its Influence
The Bible and Its Influence, published by the nonprofit Bible Literacy Project, is the only First-Amendment-safe textbook that supports academic study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It’s used in secular Bible literacy courses being taught in over 625 public high schools in 43 states. The Student Textbook (second edition) is a hardcover, full-color, 373-page volume that provides a thorough overview of both the Old and the New Testaments. This book is described as a feast for the eyes because of its spectacular beauty. It contains some of the world’s most famous art, as well as sidebar features on how the Bible has influenced literature, poetry, music, art, history, public rhetoric, and Western civilization. Special one-or two-page features include Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, Handel’s Messiah, The Bible and Emancipation, Shakespeare and the Bible, plus many more. The layout is user friendly, and the book also provides many “sidebar” features including contemporary “cultural connections,” important historical figures, timelines and charts. The textbook was edited by Cullen Schippe, former VP for Music, Religion, and Social studies at Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, and Chuck Stetson, founder and chairman of the Bible Literacy Project. The book was examined prior to publication by 40 reviewers, with their feedback incorporated into the text.
The Teacher’s Edition is a 440-page softbound text with wraparound feature, meaning the student text is printed in miniature, with surrounding teacher sections, such as: Lesson objectives, Working With The Text, Biblical Information, Visual Learning, Cultural Connections, Recall, Projects, Into Everyday Language, Music Extension, Literature Extension, and more. The teacher’s book contains all the information, lesson plans, background, and classroom scripts needed to teach this course effectively and successfully. Academic study of the Bible may take place in literature, humanities, and social science courses.
Bible Exploration for High School – The Bible Exploration for High School program presents a systematic exploration of the entire Bible. It provides Christian high school students a solid biblical overview and foundation to help lead them into their early adult years. The course expands upon essential biblical themes, many of which are realized through close integration of both the Old and New Testaments. The course is designed for two consecutive high school years, thirty-six weeks each, for a total of seventy-two weeks. Over these two years, the student will read through more than one-third of the entire Bible. The course is organized into four books. The Study Guide includes the course description, reading assignments, book introductions, key verses, and teachings. There are two Student Workbooks, one for each year. Student Workbook: Year 1 and Student Workbook: Year 2 include unit-based activities, essays, questions, and semester exams. The Answer Key includes all answers to unit-based questions and semester exams. The author, Ron Cohen, is a homeschooling dad who has taught the Bible in numerous churches for over forty years.
Bible Study Course: Old Testament – The material in this book was originally prepared and used by teachers in the Dallas School District as a historical view of the Old Testament and was offered for credit for high school students. In the Dallas Bible Study Courses an attempt was made to avoid controversial questions by placing emphasis on the study of the Bible itself. Reprinted by Wallbuilders Press.
Bible Study Course: New Testament – In the early 20th century, the Dallas public schools allowed credit toward high school graduation for the successful completion of a general survey course in the Bible, given in the churches and Sunday schools of the city. Standards of work and teaching procedures were expected to approximate as closely as possible those used in schools. In 1939, it was decided to provide separate courses in the Old and the New Testaments, each course carrying one-half unit of credit toward high school graduation. Reprinted by Wallbuilders Press.
Biblical Training Institute – This free online curriculum for serious Bible students contains 10 core courses and more than 20 electives, taught by some of the finest faculty, just like the classes you would attend in your first year at seminary. The courses should be taken in the order presented, as each subsequent course will build on material from previous courses. Includes audio and lecture notes.
Bible Reading Plans for 2017 – Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a Bible reading plan, you should be able to find it on this page from Ligonier Ministries.