Monday, November 2, 2009

58: It's a Repeat + Bonus

Deuteronomy 1-2
My bible has a section before every book that describes what the book is about. It says that this chapter is laws that were important enough to be repeated. Great. Because nothing has been repeated quite enough yet.

This is essentially retelling the story that we just heard about from Moses' perspective. Deuteronomy 1 talks about Moses appointing leaders and judges. It also recounts the story of Moses sending ahead people to see the promise land. They, as we know, come back and convince the Israelites not to go into the promise land, causing God to make them wander in the desert for 40 years.

Deuteronomy 2 tells about one of the Israelites many plunders. Interestingly, it mentions that God again hardens the opposing king's heart so that he will not let the Israelites through his city. This, of course, causes the Israelites to kill everyone in the city.

I feel bad that I'm not actually saying anything anymore, because Deuteronomy is just repeating what we've already heard. So I'm going to try to find some bible related news every day, at least till I'm done with Deuteronomy.

In March, Time magazine published an article about teaching the bible in public schools (this is apparently happening in Texas). I'm torn on this issue. On one hand, I'm "studying" the bible, and nothing horrible is happening. On the other hand, I'm almost certain this will be abused. If taught strictly from a literary point of view, and presented in a critical manner, rather than just preaching, I would have no problem. But I think there is very little chance of this actually happening.

I also take issue with using public money to teach religious texts of any sort. I see very little redeeming value in the bible, especially what I've read so far. How is bible literacy going to help you get a job, or get into college?

Let me know what you think!


  1. In my High School English class we studied the Bible. It was very carefully done - my English teacher insisted that we were studying it for literary purposes and that we were not to talk about personal religious beliefs. It worked out mostly okay - we ran into a few instances where the teacher had to play referee and stop the "debate" when people started straying from the text and started interjecting theology. With a teacher less sympathetic to the ideal of Separation of Church and State than mine was (and she was pretty militant about it) I could easily see it devolve into a "majority gang up and beat up on the minority" situation.

    To give one positive result - that class was the very first place I heard of the idea that there were two stories of creation, and that there were multiple authors of Genesis whose works were redacted together at a later date. And really, as a literary work the Bible is hugely important - at least as important as Shakespeare, or the myths of the Greeks and Romans in understanding Western art and culture through the ages. And really, the myths in the Bible aren't that much worse than the myths of the Greeks when you get right down to it.

    (Though I will admit our reading of the Bible was pretty much restricted to Genesis, Exodus, Psalms and a few other books - Kings perhaps. We skipped over Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In retrospect, probably because it was really boring).

  2. I think teaching the Bible as a literay text is fine, but I would introduce other religious texts as well for a more rounded (world) view of religion, rather than just the western perspective.

    However, teaching the Bible in Texas? No, that's just preaching.



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