Thursday, March 08, 2012

Teach The Bible in High-School? Maybe Not

The Data Port returned to find that the Arizona House has voted to allow high-schools to offer an elective course on “The Bible and Its Influence On Western Culture.”
On the face of it I have no great objection to this. The religious mythology of Christians and Jews has certainly informed the art, literature and law of the West. Every educated person should have some knowledge of it, just as they should have some knowledge of Greek mythology and Homer...the other great western religious mythology.
It is also important to understand the Bible as a book, since the Bible is not, in fact, a single book but a whole library of books, the parts of which had different authors and entered the canon at different times.
But there is a difference between teaching the Bible as a profoundly significant part of world literature, and teaching religion. Bringing
the skills of historical  criticism and analysis to a study of the Bible harms neither personal faith nor the work itself. Teaching it as a single great literal religious truth might actually discourage a real understanding of its spiritual message.
I favor the former approach but greatly fear the latter.

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