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Time Editorial Said the Bible Belongs in Schools

An early biblical publication from American history.

THE NARRATIVE of United States history is inextricably intertwined with references to the Bible. For instance, when the Pilgrims spoke of creating a shining city on a hill, they were alluding to words of Jesus. In the same way, when settlers of Virginia observed a day of thanks toward God on the anniversary of their arrival, they were obeying Scriptural injunctions to give thanks. Abraham Lincoln warned that a house divided cannot stand, knowing his listeners would immediately recognize Jesus Christ as the authority for those words. Readers of Harriet Tubman’s biography would have recognized her prayer “Oh, Lord! You’ve been wid me in six troubles, don’t desert me in the seventh!” as an allusion to Job 5:19 “He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you.”

And, when slave owners referred to the curse of Ham as a justification for holding blacks in thrall, the story of Noah and his sons would leap to a Bible reader’s mind. Likewise, when abolitionists declared slaves to be brothers, Bible readers would also recognize the allusion to Philemon 15-16: “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.”

The Ten Commandments are chiseled into stone at the Supreme Court of the United States, and the very names of many American cities reflect Biblical lore: Bethlehem, Philadelphia, Beulah, Zion, Hell, and many more. Presidents and other prominent individuals have worn biblical names: John Witherspoon, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Abigail Adams.

Educators have argued that cultural literacy demands a basic knowledge of the Bible. For this reason, Time magazine joined the push for biblical literacy on this day, April 2, 2007, when David van Biema argued “The Case for Teaching the Bible.”

“Simply put,” Biema states, “the Bible is the most influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year.”

Biema mentioned Shakespeare’s 1,300 allusions to Bible passages and other references to the Bible in literature. He also argued that we “need the Bible to make sense of the ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history.”

Dan Graves

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The Bible on Trial: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt presents a strong case for the Bible.

Bible on Trial: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt can also be streamed at RedeemTV

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