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(Biblically) illiterate in the Ivy League
Jewish World Review ^ | Dec. 20, 2006 | Paul Greenberg

Posted on 12/20/2006 10:05:13 AM PST by Caleb1411

Even the Ivy League schools seem to have noticed: Their students are not only arriving biblically illiterate but leaving pretty much the same way.

So a faculty committee at Harvard has considered making a course in religion part of the school's core curriculum.

The course would deal with "reason and faith," and touch on topics like the relation between religion and American democracy. Goodness, why not just have the students read and discuss Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"? Nobody's ever done it better. Except maybe Daniel Boorstin in "The Genius of American Politics."

But that would be too much like studying history for what it can tell us instead of for what we can read into it. It's not as if the past had an existence of its own apart from what we make of it. A usable past, that's what's we need, right?

G-d may not matter all that much to Harvard's well-gated community, but He seems to matter a great deal to a lot of us out here in the grubby world. Therefore, if America's oldest university is going to turn out graduates who'll be able to communicate with the rest of us, even lead us, they'll need to be religiously knowledgeable. At last religion would be usable.

There's an old name for this approach: profanation.

A more tactful term for it is instrumentalism. And it's not limited to academicians. People who consider themselves defenders of the faith have been known to justify theirs by pointing out all the worldly benefits of religion, from strong families to charitable giving to the work ethic, aka the Puritan ethic.

It's all enough to bring to mind what Edward Gibbon, in his "Decline and Fall," said of religion in another empire: "The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world

(Excerpt) Read more at jewishworldreview.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: academia; godandmanatharvard; harvard; religion; secularprogressives
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1 posted on 12/20/2006 10:05:16 AM PST by Caleb1411
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To: Caleb1411

Man and God at Yale - William F. Buckley Jr.

I wonder if it's on the Banned Book List?


2 posted on 12/20/2006 10:07:08 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Caleb1411

Who needs to know The Bible? I mean, not only is it the story of mankind, and presents a way to live, it is also the basis for just about all Western art and literature.


3 posted on 12/20/2006 10:07:30 AM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: Give therapeutic violence a chance!)
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To: Caleb1411

When did Harvard become Parochial?


4 posted on 12/20/2006 10:07:58 AM PST by wastedyears ("By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: massgopguy
Actually, the title is God and Man at Yale. First movers first.
5 posted on 12/20/2006 10:13:10 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: wastedyears
When did Harvard become Parochial?

In what way? Pertaining to a parish or limited in outlook?

6 posted on 12/20/2006 10:20:02 AM PST by GoLightly
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To: wastedyears

"When did Harvard become Parochial?"


The nation's oldest academic institution, Harvard University, was established in 1636 and named for Puritan minister John Harvard. The university claims that it was "never formally affiliated with a specific religious denomination," though all its presidents were Puritan ministers until 1708. A 1643 college brochure identified Harvard's purpose: "To advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches." The university's Charter of 1650 calls for "the education of the English and Indian youth of this Country in knowledge and godliness."


7 posted on 12/20/2006 10:20:33 AM PST by Prokopton
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To: Caleb1411

Even if one were a raving Marxist, it would be futile to try to manipulate the American populace without a good knowledge of Biblical thought, history and quotations.


8 posted on 12/20/2006 10:21:29 AM PST by RedStateRocker (Nuke Mecca, Deport all illegals, abolish the IRS, ATF and DEA)
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To: wastedyears

Harvard was founded primarily as a religious institution.


The institution was named Harvard College on March 13, 1639, after its first principal donor, a young clergyman named John Harvard. A graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in England, John Harvard bequeathed about four hundred books in his will to form the basis of the college library collection, along with half his personal wealth worth several hundred pounds.

Harvard's founding in 1636 came in the form of an act of the colony's Great and General Court. By all accounts the chief impetus was to allow the training of home-grown clergy so the Puritan colony would not need to rely on immigrating graduates of England's Oxford and Cambridge universities for well-educated pastors, "dreading," as a 1643 brochure put it, "to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches."[citation needed] In its first year, seven of the original nine students left to fight in the English Civil War.

Harvard was also founded as a school to educate American Indians in order to train them as ministers among their tribes. Harvard's Charter of 1650 calls for "the education of the English and Indian youth of this Country in knowledge and godliness."[20] Indeed, Harvard and missionaries to the local tribes were intricately connected. The first Bible to be printed in the entire North American continent was printed at Harvard in an Indian language, Massachusett. Termed the Eliot Bible since it was translated by John Eliot, this book was used to facilitate conversion of Indians, ideally by Harvard-educated Indians themselves.


9 posted on 12/20/2006 10:25:03 AM PST by The Lumster (USA - where the innocent have nothing to fear!)
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To: Caleb1411

How about teaching them American History. That would cover most of it without getting into the Bible. Good Lord only knows they don't teach history in High School any more.


10 posted on 12/20/2006 10:26:20 AM PST by Ron2
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To: Caleb1411

The universities are creating illiterates. This is the sort of introductory work which every freshman should read:

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Code-Bible-Literature/dp/0156027801


11 posted on 12/20/2006 10:37:08 AM PST by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: massgopguy

How about Leboutillier's "Harvard Hates America".


12 posted on 12/20/2006 10:38:21 AM PST by Inwoodian
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To: Caleb1411

bump


13 posted on 12/20/2006 10:39:38 AM PST by VOA
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To: Caleb1411

In the 12th century universities were the outgrowths of cathedral schools, and centered on theology and canon law, with medicine as the only secular outlet.["seven arts", starting with grammar and arithmetics, were an undergraduate curriculum]. Civil law was added a tad later. But now it's not the 12th century but the 21st. There is Harvard University, and there is Harvard Divinity school.[ditto for Princeton U and Princeton Theological Seminary]. Those in want or need of bibling would do well to go there.


14 posted on 12/20/2006 10:46:25 AM PST by GSlob
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To: Caleb1411
It's all enough to bring to mind what Edward Gibbon, in his "Decline and Fall," said of religion in another empire: "The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world...

Not really a good example considering Gibbon pretty much mostly blames Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire

15 posted on 12/20/2006 10:48:27 AM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: GSlob
There is Harvard University, and there is Harvard Divinity school.[ditto for Princeton U and Princeton Theological Seminary]. Those in want or need of bibling would do well to NOT go there.

Fixed it for you.

16 posted on 12/20/2006 11:02:34 AM PST by PAR35
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To: RedStateRocker
Even if one were a raving Marxist, it would be futile to try to manipulate the American populace without a good knowledge of Biblical thought, history and quotations.

Why do you think hillary and bill go to church and carry that coffee table Bible with them?

17 posted on 12/20/2006 11:22:46 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: PAR35

As for the 12th vs 21st Centuries, what does the marking of time have to do with anything? Such statements beg all sorts of questions without actually making a declarative statement of substance.

Doesn't it matter more the substance of the ideas rather than the date? I would submit that the ideas peddled in today's 21st century universities are riddled with illogic and blaring inconsistencies. So much so, that one might be tempted to use the term, indoctrination, to describe them, since truth and reason and rationality seem to be of little concern. For example, the most interesting assertion of the logically insane is that there are no absolutes, or equivalent sayings.


18 posted on 12/20/2006 11:23:35 AM PST by sleepy_hollow
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To: PAR35

Well, and what do they do there, then?


19 posted on 12/20/2006 11:25:18 AM PST by GSlob
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To: GSlob

Teach liberalism and political correctness.


20 posted on 12/20/2006 11:28:52 AM PST by PAR35
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To: sleepy_hollow

What do you mean, "there are no absolutes"? There is Absolut, then Absolut citron, Absolut peppar, Absolut kurant, and the bunch of other flavors. Surely they are, at about $25 a bottle. And today universities peddle not so much ideas as more or less applied training in specialized disciplines. [One could argue that this is what they have always been doing, just the menu of the disciplines shifted away from theology and canon law]. The trouble with them is that they peddle a substandard product.


21 posted on 12/20/2006 11:31:57 AM PST by GSlob
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To: Caleb1411
Actually, Greenberg seems to have missed the more practical part of making Bible knowledge part of the core curriculum.

I have a good friend who is a Literature professor at one of the local colleges, and her observation is this: her students simply cannot understand where classic authors are coming from, unless you first understand their religious backgrounds. She finds that in her lectures, she must first provide that Biblical background, and she thereby "loses" about 20% of her class time.

Dante would make no sense whatever. Gibbon likewise loses a lot of its context simply because students cannot understand the basis of his essentially anti-religious bent.

22 posted on 12/20/2006 11:35:25 AM PST by r9etb
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To: qam1
Not really a good example considering Gibbon pretty much mostly blames Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire

Case in point ... how can one actually evaluate his claims without understanding Christianity and its Biblical basis?

23 posted on 12/20/2006 11:36:38 AM PST by r9etb
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To: wastedyears

I believe that most of the Ivy League schools started out as christian schools but over time, northeastern do-gooders shut down the religious aspects and made the schools totally secular in purpose.


24 posted on 12/20/2006 11:42:05 AM PST by rabidralph
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To: GSlob

I prefer Lagavulin single malt myself, but in this realm, I am convinced it is personal taste that matters. In the realm of education, facts and truth and reason and logic matter. Otherwise there could be no Absolut or Lagavulin since no one would be able to make the stuff being completely muddleheaded already without the benefit of the spirits.

On the subject of ideas vs. training at universities, I would point to C. S. Lewis as the best example of a modern thinker who was university trained in the ideas of history, not the practical skills of the world (if that is what you meant).

Now, if only I could be helf as literate as he in one subject area. I believe he met the true spirit of the meaning of Doctor of Philospohy. That is what separates learning from vocation training. (Again, I am making assumptions about your meaning.)


25 posted on 12/20/2006 11:47:30 AM PST by sleepy_hollow
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To: sleepy_hollow

The Muslims are right about one thing: If the Koran really is the Word of God, then what it says is true forever.


26 posted on 12/20/2006 11:50:57 AM PST by RobbyS ( CHI)
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To: RobbyS

Well, that is a huge "if" in my opinon.

Since the Koran is basically upside down and backwards, hard to say. By that I mean it is in the order from longest saying of Mohammed to shortest, which roughly equates to reverse cronological order - sort of. It starts later in his life when he was famous and loved the sound of his own voice and progresses backwards to when he was simply a little shaver spouting cute aphorisms.


27 posted on 12/20/2006 11:59:13 AM PST by sleepy_hollow
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To: sleepy_hollow

Progressivism is, however, a secularization of Christianity. They have lached onto to Marx's historicism which looks forward to a scientific utopia ala "Startrek,". The Mussies at least don't suffer from that delusion.


28 posted on 12/20/2006 12:09:05 PM PST by RobbyS ( CHI)
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To: Caleb1411

"I've got a B.A. and a M.B.A. and a M.S. and a P.H.D. but I've got no G.O.D.."

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight-1 Cor. 3:9


29 posted on 12/20/2006 12:27:39 PM PST by 444Flyer ("Yes, we smell a rat close by!"--The three little kittens.)
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To: wastedyears

Harvard and Yale BEGAN as religious schools.


30 posted on 12/20/2006 12:30:54 PM PST by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Caleb1411
Throughout the 90s, one of Harvard's most well-attended undergrad courses was "Bible" by Prof. James Kugel. It was a very "straight" (no PC agenda, no post-modernist lit crit) look at the Hebrew Scriptures. Further, Prof. Kugel was an Orthodox Jew. The year I took it, it had so many students that the lecture portions of the class were held in Sanders Theater, which can hold 700+. The courses are there, and people seek them out.

Philosophically, I'm opposed to instituting any required courses whatsoever at Harvard. You can be a good Christian (or Jew, or whatever) and simply decide to take Intro to Korean instead of a religion course. Or sleep late because you're hungover! Such foundations should be laid in other venues, such as high school or the home. But I am cognizant of the fact that, far too often, they are not.

Ultimately: (a) it's your money, so it should be your schedule; and (b) if you can get into Harvard, you should be able recognize what you need to learn in order to be an "educated citizen."

31 posted on 12/20/2006 1:11:30 PM PST by BroncosFan ("Now we grieve, 'cause now it's gone / But things were good when we were young.")
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To: sleepy_hollow

My meaning is literal: education is the training of the tomorrow's workforce, nothing more and nothing less. Thus it is, and has always been, all vocational. The list of specialties and their relative prominence changes along with development in time. So-called "liberal education", if that is what you mean, in this model is seen as criminal waste.


32 posted on 12/20/2006 1:19:52 PM PST by GSlob
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To: massgopguy

This is interesting. I was talking to a friend who is a philosopher teaching at a small college. She the ultimate Niechie groupie, discussed how difficult it was to teach the incoming students becasue the kids had no background in the foundational religion of western civilization. She said, at one time she could at least count on the Catholic kids to have the knowledge, but in the past 10 years even the Catholics do not know the history and stories of their faith.

One cannot learn English lit, Western Art, philosphy, languages, or science without understanding the foundation of Christian philosophy and religion.


33 posted on 12/20/2006 1:40:58 PM PST by Chickensoup (If you don't go to the holy war, the holy war will come to you.)
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To: BroncosFan

You can be a good Christian (or Jew, or whatever) and simply decide to take Intro to Korean instead of a religion course. Or sleep late because you're hungover! Such foundations should be laid in other venues, such as high school or the home. But I am cognizant of the fact that, far too often, they are not.



You may be able to be a Good Christian or whatever, but you WON'T be an educated person. And that is the agenda here.


34 posted on 12/20/2006 1:43:57 PM PST by Chickensoup (If you don't go to the holy war, the holy war will come to you.)
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To: Chickensoup

The system does not allow us to change replies.


35 posted on 12/20/2006 1:51:46 PM PST by Admin Moderator
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To: qam1; r9etb
Not really a good example considering Gibbon pretty much mostly blames Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire

I've read his work and do not recall that conclusion. Can you cite chapter and verse?

36 posted on 12/20/2006 2:27:20 PM PST by Jacquerie (When a Democrat swears to support the Constitution, you can bet he'll lie about other things.)
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To: BroncosFan

Nietzsche

Pardon my spelling


37 posted on 12/20/2006 2:41:15 PM PST by Chickensoup (If you don't go to the holy war, the holy war will come to you.)
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To: Jacquerie

He doesn't blame it for the fall of Rome. He is, however, extremely dismissive of Christianity. Can't give you chapter and verse ... but in my Great Books version, it's about half to 3/4 of the way through the first volume.


38 posted on 12/20/2006 6:31:36 PM PST by r9etb
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To: 444Flyer

"I've got a B.A. and a M.B.A. and a M.S. and a P.H.D. but I've got no G.O.D.."

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight-1 Cor. 3:9




And that is the truth!

Eternity is a long time ... .


39 posted on 12/20/2006 8:46:19 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God) .)
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To: Jacquerie

Chapter 38 (General Observations Of The Fall In The West)
As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of the military spirit were buried in the cloister; a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers' pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes, who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and the more earthly passions of malice and ambition kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody, and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country.


Chapter 71 - final conclusion (fall of Eastern Empire)
The various causes and progressive effects are connected with many of the events most interesting in human annals: the artful policy of the Caesars, who long maintained the name and image of a free republic; the disorders of military despotism; the rise, establishment, and sects of Christianity; the foundation of Constantinople; the division of the monarchy; the invasion and settlements of the Barbarians of Germany and Scythia; the institutions of the civil law; the character and religion of Mahomet; the temporal sovereignty of the popes; the restoration and decay of the Western empire of Charlemagne; the crusades of the Latins in the East: the conquests of the Saracens and Turks; the ruin of the Greek empire; the state and revolutions of Rome in the middle age.


40 posted on 12/20/2006 9:24:21 PM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: GSlob; BibChr; rhema
In the 12th century universities were the outgrowths of cathedral schools, and centered on theology and canon law, with medicine as the only secular outlet.["seven arts", starting with grammar and arithmetics, were an undergraduate curriculum]. Civil law was added a tad later. But now it's not the 12th century but the 21st. There is Harvard University, and there is Harvard Divinity school.[ditto for Princeton U and Princeton Theological Seminary]. Those in want or need of bibling would do well to go there.

At one point in history, yes. Right now, the last clause reads more properly "Those in want or need of postmodernist, deconstructionist, revisionist, eisegetical bibling would do well to go there."

41 posted on 12/22/2006 1:43:48 PM PST by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: Caleb1411

Well, let them bible there in whatever way they wish - it is still a free country, or at least it was so when I was last checking this morning. As long as they do not bible at me, I do not have any objections.


42 posted on 12/22/2006 2:41:50 PM PST by GSlob
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To: Caleb1411
There's an old name for this approach: profanation. A more tactful term for it is instrumentalism.

taming the hound of heaven? prostitution? sublimation of supersition?

43 posted on 12/22/2006 2:57:32 PM PST by cornelis
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To: GSlob
As long as they do not bible at me, I do not have any objections.

They won't. To the First Existential Church of the Warm Fuzzy, the Bible's the equivalent of Heloise's Helpful Hints.

More to the article's point, however, the undergraduates at these universities are woefully, perhaps willfully, ignorant of the myriad rhetorical and literary allusions to the Bible. No matter, I guess. They'll just "cook up Shakespeare, serve him up like roast goose, stuffed with their political-sexual agendas, carve and quarter him with long knives. … These are the scholars in the journals now. They are at war with the beautiful; they are against G-d and metaphor."

44 posted on 12/22/2006 3:12:47 PM PST by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: Caleb1411

Well, I [an atheist] am a graduate of officially atheistic Moscow University [in the thucking USSR of accursed memory], and I do not consider myself to be biblically illiterate - I could easily pick most rhetorical, literary, and pictorial allusions to it, in more than one language to boot. Occasionally I make a few of my own, for the fun of it. Thus I positively do not see why these graduates should be considered as "woefully illiterate". If they want or need it, for whatever reason - they'll pick it [there are places to do it, or they could do it on their own]. And if they do not need it - it would close the case.


45 posted on 12/22/2006 5:04:21 PM PST by GSlob
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To: GSlob; Caleb1411; PAR35; r9etb
Thus I positively do not see why these graduates should be considered as "woefully illiterate". If they want or need it, for whatever reason - they'll pick it [there are places to do it, or they could do it on their own]. And if they do not need it - it would close the case.

It's one thing to know it and not to need it, as you may not, another to remain willfully ignorant of its existence, substituting the pallid, contrived interpretations of "the scholars in the journals now. They are at war with the beautiful; they are against G-d and metaphor."

46 posted on 12/22/2006 7:46:40 PM PST by rhema ("Break the conventions, keep the commandments." -- G. K. Chesterton)
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To: TR Jeffersonian

ping


47 posted on 12/22/2006 7:49:34 PM PST by kalee (No burka for me....EVER!)
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To: rhema
A willful ignorance necessarily requires a level of knowledge - one has to have an idea what one willfully chooses to be ignorant of. Willful ignorance is not, and cannot be, ignorance of existence [it could be an affirmation of nonexistence or non-validity, though - but even then it cannot be completely groundless]. For example, I am ignorant of Swahili language. I am willfully ignorant of it, i.e. I do not want to study it. At the same time, my lack of interest in it comes from a [however superficial] knowledge of the culture it is operating in, and the conviction that there's nothing there worthy of my time and effort. Were there anything interesting, it would have been translated - and it is the translations which have given me my level of knowledge on which I am basing my willful ignorance.
48 posted on 12/23/2006 8:49:11 AM PST by GSlob
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To: GSlob; headsonpikes; PAR35; r9etb
Meanwhile, back to the the real point, the Templeton Foundation's Bible Literacy Report II revealed that college English professors (no Bible-thumping conservatives they) overwhelmingly "indicated that a lack of basic Bible literacy hampers students' ability to understand both classics and contemporary work. . . . The report concludes that high schools should make basic Bible knowledge part of their curriculum, especially for college preparatory students."

"Almost without exception, English professors we surveyed at major American colleges said universities see knowledge of the Bible as a deeply important part of a good education. The virtual unanimity and depth of their responses on this question are striking. The Bible is not only a sacred scripture to millions of Americans, it is also arguably (as one Northwestern professor stated), "the most influential text of all of Western culture."

Prof. Robert Klein of Harvard University stated, "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. One could go on and on and on. So just add that it's rich and beautiful and wonderful material in and of itself, a very important part of a liberal education. The Bible has continued to be philosophically, ethically, religiously, politically influential in Western, Eastern, now African cultures, and so not to know it -- whether one is a Jew or Christian -- seems to me not to understand world culture. It's not just Western culture. And in terms of my own field, English and American literature is simply steeped in Biblical legends, morality, Biblican figures, Biblican 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. Can't do without it."

49 posted on 12/23/2006 10:52:29 AM PST by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: Caleb1411
Just get them reading the classics, instead of 'see Spot run' - and they would pick all they need. Indeed, one could argue that Plato and Aristotle are more central to the Western Civ than the Bible - and so get them reading and understanding these authors. As a living illustration: at my workplace these is one pre-med student [he was just accepted in a med school]. A few weeks ago he came to work coughing and sneezing. So, I solemnly informed him that Aristotle [Problemata, 1, 50] recommended sexual excess as beneficial against the diseases caused by phlegm. At first he laughed; several days later he came and expressed his wonder that it had worked. Then I showed him the book - and he became sufficiently interested so as to start reading. Score one more for the Western Civ.
50 posted on 12/23/2006 11:30:01 AM PST by GSlob
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