The Bible in Western Culture

 

Essays

 

The Bible in Western Culture

 

Bible is a primary document of Western culture, basic to  understanding of

the western philosophical, literary, cultural and scientific

tradition. Focus is placed on ideas developed in Hebrew Bible (Old

Testament) and their literary, philosophical and political impact.

 

Culture is formed by a combination of factors.  At one level,

culture is simply the ordered way in which a set of human beings

conduct their lives.  This order has many streams flowing into it.

 First, the customary ways of  one’s forebearers become accepted

as the norm by default.  However, new ideas may arrive to reshape

that norm.  Sometimes, one rebels against his culture because of

new information; sometimes one does so because he processes old

information and decides that as a matter of conscience, change

must occur.  This is the process by which moral and spiritual

revivals occur.  Otherwise, one may continue to follow the

established patterns of behavior.  One may even push the

boundaries and get by with as much divergence as possible, either

in a move that improves society or in a way that would destroy

society.  The story of the Old Testament is one in which people

follow standard or alternative paths.

 

Our Western culture is heavily indebted to the Judeo- Christian tradition

which created these writings and was itself molded by them. Knowledge of

the Bible, then, is important not only for those with religious commitment

to Judaism or Christianity, but to anyone in our society who wishes to be

informed or educated.

 

Theology pertains to mankind’s view of God.  The Old Testament is

filled with differing images of God.  Certainly the pagan world

had its concepts of God as one to be appeased.  Israel’s God,

Yahweh, stood against the so-called gods of the pagan world in

many aspects.  Israel struggled between faith in Yahweh and

appeasement of the delusion of traditional power.

 

The text for this section refers to the book by Beasley, et al.

The work begins with questions about the biblical text and the

environment in which it should be studied.  The underlying

assumption is that the biblical text has a relationship to

ancient history: its people are connected with ancient

civilizations and its literary forms have affinity with ancient

writing.

 

 

a.  Culture and methods.  Modern Western culture is significantly

different from that of the ancient Near East.  The key to understanding

requires one to transcend his/her own cultue and seek to comprehend the

Bible within its own environment.  This does not means the Bible is

necessarily a product of ancient culture, but it does recognize that it is

a book that belongs first to the past.

 

The Bible and Western culture refers to Beasley, et al, pp. 15-28

 

Authority of the Bible refers to the power, respect and esteem that it

has and/or has been given. In addition, the Bible has authority, because

the Christian community canonized its books while rejecting other books as

noncanonical. Ultimately the Bible’s authority derives from God, who

inspired its writers.

 

Interpretation refers to ways we understand the Bible. Ever since

scriptures were written down, a variety of approaches to their meaning

have existed. Our world views also affect the way we interpret the Bible

which, in turn, was written as a reflection the world views of ancient

times.

 

Beginning study with Jesus we will journey through time to the present.

Since the Bible is authoritative for Christian faith and practice, we want

to comprehend its message. We gain a stronger sense of identity, strength,

and hope in learning more about our spiritual

heritage.

 

Through examination of biblical texts and movies which draw upon those

texts the course explores how the Bible has been interpreted, and its

authority used, to promote particular religious, moral, social, and

political values in popular culture. In addition, by way of comparison,

some attention will given to other visual images, in painting and

sculpture, linked to biblical topics.

 

The nature and varieties of interpretation as a cultural activity ranging

beyond the province of biblical specialists will be a focal point of

discussion. Students will be encouraged to relate self-critically what

they learn about how texts and images function to how they themselves read

and visualize the Bible today.

 

Methods and tools for studying the Bible

 

Any journey of study begins with a method. The would-be student chooses a

topic, approach, or method and the adventure begins. Hope is high and

anticipation great. The trouble encountered in the journey is that the

method does not always work. Sincere methods do not guarantee results

unless they are sound methods. This understanding is vital to any approach

to Bible study. Sound methods yield sound results. This particular journey

will provide insight into formatting sound methods of Bible study that

give the learner an advantage in the understanding and application of the

message that God has for us in his word.

 

Of vital importance is an understanding of the intended outcome of any

course of study. The outcome of studying the Bible must be life change for

the better. For this reason, we will learn how to develop applications

based on reading, observation, and interpretation. Each application will

be Personal, Practical, Possible, and Provable.

 

Since the Bible has many themes and contexts, we will first learn the

history of the English Bible. The learning will have the opportunity to

learn how to choose a good translation of the Bible. We will also study

how to use properly the tools of Bible study including concordances,

dictionaries, language tools, and commentaries. After developing an

understanding of the tools, we will learn to develop working applications.

Following this,  methods will be completed that aid the learning in

systematically reading the Bible equipped to understand its connectivity

and message.

 

Re. culture and methods modern Western culture is significantly

different from that of the ancient Near East.  The key to understanding

requires one to transcend his/her own cultue and seek to comprehend the

Bible within its own environment.  This does not means the Bible is

necessarily a product of ancient culture, but it does recognize that it is

a book that belongs first to the past.

 

Methods and tools for studying the Bible are considered by reading

Beasley, et al,pp. 29-49.

 

Many educators mistakenly believe that religion has no place in the

curriculum – that the public schools must be religion-free zones. This is

not true. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, religion can be taught, as

long as the teaching is presented “objectively as part of a secular

program of education.” 1 According to “Religion in the public schools: A

joint statement of current laws,” issued in 1995 by 35 agencies

representing 10 religions and ethical systems:

 

“Students may be taught about religion, but public schools may not teach

religion…The history of religion, comparative religion, the Bible (or

other scripture)-as-literature…are all permissible public school

subjects. It is both permissible and desirable to teach objectively about

the role of religion in the history of the United States and other

countries. One can teach that the Pilgrims came to this country with a

particular religious vision, that Catholics and others have been subject

to persecution or that many of those participating in the abolitionist,

women’s suffrage and civil rights movements had religious motivations.”

 

In summary:

 

 ]Teaching religion as truth: Presenting the beliefs of a particular

denomination or religion as actual truth is unconstitutional. So is the

teaching of the Bible as truth, or the teaching of religious topics from a

sectarian point of view.

 Teaching about religion: Teaching students about religions, or about the

influences that religions have had on society is constitutional. “Such

instruction can and does take place in any number of classes, such as

courses in comparative religion, the history of religion, world history

and American history.”

 

The beliefs of a single faith group (e.g. conservative Christianity)

cannot be taught as truth. What can be taught is a form of comparative

religion. The latter includes teaching beliefs of various wings

(conservative, mainline, liberal) within Christianity and the beliefs of

other significant religions in a balanced manner. At the same time, the

school needs to be careful that it does not promote religion over

secularism.

 

Six examples (two of the Bible itself, two from the Hebrew Scriptures and

two from the Christian Scriptures) might be useful to illustrate what is

allowable and what is prohibited. The author is not a constitutional

lawyer. However the guidance given by a number of court decisions seems to

give a very clear indication of what is permitted:

 

About the source of Biblical text:   Some religious groups believe that

the Bible is inerrant; other religious and secular groups believe that it

contains errors. Teaching the inerrancy or infallibility of the Bible or

the belief that God inspired its authors would violate the first

principle of the separation of church and state listed above. (Schools may

not promote the beliefs of one religion or faith group over any other). A

teacher who instruct her/his students that the Bible is not inerrant would

also be violating the Constitution, for the same reason.

 

To teach that some individuals and groups believe that it is inerrant,

infallible and God-inspired, while others believe the opposite would  be

constitutional.

 

Teaching the Bible as real history:  It is unconstitutional to teach that

some Biblical events really happened. (e.g. the creation story, the

worldwide flood, the tower of Babel, the exodus from Egypt, the virgin

birth and resurrection of Jesus, etc.) This is because there is no

consensus that these events really happened. However, other events (e.g.

Babylonian captivity, capture of Jerusalem by the Assyrians) have been

verified by archaeological evidence; most researchers agree that they

really happened. The events can be taught as fact.

 

To teach a balanced, inclusive view would be acceptable. This would

discuss how some individuals and groups believe that all of these earlier

events actually happened, while others believe that many of the events are

fictional, mythical or symbolic.

 

About the creation stories in the early chapters of Genesis:   To teach

as a literal truth that God created the world, its life forms and the rest

of the universe in six days is unconstitutional, because it would promote

the beliefs of a single group of religions traditions within Judaism,

Christianity and Islam. Other traditions within those same religions, and

non-Christian religions consider these chapters to be fictional, mythical

or symbolic.

 

A constitutional approach would be to teach Genesis as one of hundreds of

creation stories found in societies and religions all over the world. To

fully more educate the students, the teacher might describe the three main

views about the origin of the universe, along with their many variations:

creation science, theistic evolution and naturalistic

evolution.

 

About the authorship of the Pentateuch:   The Bible says in many places

that the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures were written by Moses.

It would be unconstitutional to teach this as fact, because there is no

consensus that he was the author.

 

A constitutional approach would be to teach the two main views of the

authorship of the Pentateuch: that many conservative Christians believe

that the books were written by Moses under the inspiration of God, while

most non-conservative Christian theologians hold to the Documentary

Hypothesis: that the writings that form the Pentateuch were edited by one

or more redactors. The redactor(s) worked with the writings of four

authors, who lived in various locations in Palestine, over a period of

many centuries. Each wrote with the goal of promoting his/her own

religious views.

 

About the nature, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus:  To teach that

the crucifixion and bodily resurrection of Jesus actually happened is not

constitutional because no consensus exists on these events. Instructing

students that Jesus is the son of God is similarly unconstitutional.

Teaching one faith group’s beliefs as truth and another as false again

violates the first principle as listed above.

 

There are major deviations among faith groups about these matters. Jews

regard Jesus as a very human, 1st century rabbi/teacher from Palestine.

Most Christians view him as the Son of God – one component of the

Trinity. Muslims, who form about 20% of the world’s population, view him

as a great prophet — the most important next to Muhammad. They believe

that Jesus was never crucified and thus not resurrected. Some liberal

Christians believe that he was a Greek cynic philosopher whose life story

was enhanced with beliefs taken from the god-men of nearby Mediterranean

religions.

 

About life after death and salvation:  To teach that heaven and hell

exist as locations where individuals will be rewarded or punished after

death is unconstitutional. To teach that one must be saved by trusting

Jesus as Lord and Savior is also not permitted. To teach reincarnation or

that there is no after-life is similarly prohibited. Different faith

groups have varying beliefs in these areas. To teach one set as truth

violates the first principle of separation of church and state.

 

Some believe that heaven and hell are actual locations where people go

permanently after death. Others interpret heaven and hell symbolically.

Some believe in an intermediate state or location called Purgatory. Some

believe that everyone will be saved; others that only a small percentage

of the world’s population will attain heaven. Some religions teach that

one is reincarnated and passes through many lifetimes before merging with

God.

 

Many religious liberals, Humanists, Atheists, etc. believe that neither

heaven, hell, reincarnation or an afterlife exist. Instructing students in

the full range of beliefs would be constitutional.

 

 

Presumably, in order to retain a neutral stance towards religion, the

course might have to cover major religious texts, not just the Bible. And

it might have to cover documents like the Humanist Manifesto.

 

Teaching about religion is fraught with hazards for a school district:

 

It is unlikely that Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian

parents would find a balanced, inclusive, objective religious course(s) to

be acceptable. As noted above, it would expose their children to beliefs

that they disagree with.

 

Liberal Christians, and non-Christians would probably approve of the

course, particularly if it is elective.

 

Agnostics, Atheists, free thinkers, Humanists and others might object,

feeling that objective courses could not be taught by teachers who follow

an Abrahamic faith (e.g. Judaism, Christianity & Islam).

 

It is unlikely that a school district could win a court challenge unless

their religion course(s) were balanced, inclusive, and objective.

 

There are many civil rights and First Amendment organizations in the U.S.

that have extensive expertise in suing school boards on constitutional

matters.

 

Any board of education that decides to add a religion course can expect to

generate intense conflict and anger within the community. They might

expose themselves to an expensive court battle that they had no hope of

winning. The result might well be a stalemate, with no Bible or religion

courses being taught.

 

The situation in Florida:

 

The Florida legislature passed a law in 1996 which permitted Bible history

classes to be taught in state public schools. In 1997, the school board of

Lee County, FL decided to create a “Bible History” unit. They appointed a

Bible Curriculum Committee and mandated them to develop curricula for two

new courses: “Bible History: Old Testament” and “Bible History: New

Testament.” From the beginning, the committee was divided. Conservatives

wanted to teach the type of Christian Bible course that is commonly seen

in a Sunday school – to teach religion as truth. Religious liberals, and

others, wanted to teach an objective course – information about religion.

Against the recommendations of its lawyers, the school district adopted

the program recommended by the conservative majority on its committee.

This allegedly involved the adoption of two courses by the National

Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS): an Old Testament

course with some adaptations, and the New Testament course exactly as

produced by the NCBCPS. 4

 

The law firm of Steel, Hector & Davis, the People For the American Way

Foundation (PFAWF) and the Florida American Civil Liberties Union sued the

school district in federal court on behalf of some parents and citizens

who objected to the curricula. The court issued an injunction which

prohibited the teaching of the New Testament course, and ordered the

strict monitoring of the Old Testament course. The school board decided to

drop the NCBCPS-based curricula. They substituted a “neutral, academic

curriculum that does not present the Bible as fact or from a sectarian

perspective.” The course is now taught in two sections, both based on a

book, “An introduction to the Bible.” 5

 

The People For the American Way then studied the “Bible History” courses

that 14 other Florida school districts taught from the 1996-7 to the

1998-9 school years. They concluded that all 14 districts were violating

the Constitution.

 

Most courses:

 

Used the term “Old Testament”, a uniquely Christian term, rather than the

generic term “Hebrew Scriptures”  generally used by scholars.

 

Referred to the events in the Garden of Eden as “The Fall of Man” — a

Christian concept not recognized by many other faith groups — including

some which base their beliefs on the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

The serpent in Genesis is referred to as “Satan;” that is a conservative

Christian interpretation, not shared by other faith groups.

 

Interpreted much of the Hebrew Scriptures as prophecy concerning the

future arrival of Jesus Christ. This again is a uniquely Christian

concept. In one school district, the students were asked “What eight

aspects of Christ’s life are prophesied in Isaiah?”

 

Teach only one arrangement of the Ten Commandments; the students are not

informed about the two other formats used by Christians and Jews.

 

Ignore seven the books in the versions of the Bible which are used by

Roman Catholics and some Anglicans. These books are not considered part of

the official canon by most Protestant denominations and are frequently

referred to as the Apocrypha or as Intertestament Writings.

 

Restrict the course to the King James Version. The New American Bible,

used by Roman Catholics, and the New World Translation, used by Jehovah’s

Witnesses, were not included.

 

Used only the Bible and secondary resources like Fundamentalist Christian

handbooks as texts. No non-biblical sources of Middle-Eastern history were

used. No books reflecting a liberal interpretation of the Bible were

included.

 

Perhaps the most serious concerns with the courses were:

 

That only a single, typically conservative Protestant, interpretation of

the Bible was taught. The students were not informed that there is a wide

range of beliefs by different faith groups, depending largely upon their

initial assumptions about the nature of the Bible itself.

 

That the Bible was taught as actual history: the creation story, the

flood, the existence of Jesus since the beginning of time, the miracles

attributed to Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, etc. were all presented as

real, historical events. There is a wide diversity of belief about these

events. They cannot be verified and must be accepted on faith. “Teaching

this biblical content as true in a public school improperly crosses the

line of neutrality and objectivity by endorsing religion and inculcating

students in religions beliefs.”

 

Students are taught, in the Ten Commandments, that only God is to be

worshiped and that one must rest on the weekly Sabbath, Saturday. They are

taught that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus said that the devil is the

father of the Jews, that “eight aspects of Christ’s life are prophesied in

Isaiah.” The Bible is referred to as “our Bible”; God is described as “our

Lord.”

 

The courses may well be ideal as a conservative Protestant Sunday school

curriculum. However, they would fail miserably in a Jehovah’s Witness,

Mormon, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist or United Church of Christ

church school. Christianity is actually being taught as truth to the

students – a specific wing of Christianity at that. As one court stated:

“…to inculcate students…into the beliefs and moral code of

fundamentalist Christianity [is] an admirable goal perhaps for some

private citizens or for a private religious school, but a forbidden one

for the government.”

 

The PFAWF Florida Director urged the Florida Department of Education to

remove the two courses “Bible History: Old Testament” and “Bible History:

New Testament” in their present form from the state-approved course list.

 

The PFAWF report 5 asks all of the Florida school districts involved to

stop their current courses, and thus avoid being sued in court. The PFAWF

also sent letters to the Superintendents of each of the 14 school

districts, accompanied with copies of the report.

 

The Good Book Taught Wrong: Bible History Classes in Florida Public

Schools

 

Findings

 

Based on the instructional materials provided by the schools districts,

all 14 of these school districts appear to be violating the Constitution

by the manner in which at least some of the “Bible History” courses are

taught.9 While some problems are unique to particular school districts,

the majority are common to most or all of them. In Part Two of this

report, we have included a description of each school district’s classes

based on our review of the instructional materials that the school

districts themselves provided to us.10 The primary constitutional problems

common to most of the school districts include the following:

 

 

The courses are framed and taught from Christian perspectives.

 

The “Bible History” courses in virtually all of the school districts are

called “Bible History: Old Testament” and “Bible History: New Testament”

or a variation on those words.11 These are Christian terms for the Bible,

and framing the courses solely in these terms – without using the term

“Hebrew Scriptures” or “Hebrew Bible” – presents them at the very outset

from a purely Christian perspective. As Bible scholar and teacher T.W.

Lewis, III testified in the Lee County case, “Old Testament” is a

Christian term, while “Hebrew Scriptures” is the term “commonly accepted

by scholars.”12

 

Despite the Supreme Court’s admonition that the Bible must be taught about

“objectively,” it appears that most, if not all, of the Florida school

districts teaching the “Bible History” courses are doing so not

objectively, but from a Christian perspective. This perspective extends

beyond the titles to the course content, which typically presents the

Bible according to particular Christian (usually Protestant)

interpretations.

 

For example, it is common in the instructional materials to find the story

of Adam and Eve referred to as “the Fall of Man,” and the serpent in that

story referred to as “Satan” – Christian interpretations of Genesis 3 that

are not shared by other faiths. The Bible classes at issue in the Herdahl

case also described Genesis 3 as “the Fall of Man.” As Professor Lewis

testified in that case, “That phrase, however, does not appear anywhere in

the Bible; it is a purely theological, Christian interpretation of the

story – further evidence of the religious nature of the instruction.

Moreover, Jews, who also regard the Book of Genesis as religious

scripture, do not interpret the story of Adam and Eve in the same way.”13

And, as Professor Lewis testified in Lee County, “the Serpent” of Genesis

3 is “interpreted in Christian faith, but not Jewish faith, as Satan.”14

 

Likewise, a number of the Florida school districts present the “Old”

Testament as predictive of, or in light of, the “New” Testament. For

example, an exam used in the Indian River County school district asks,

“Where is a prophecy in the Old [T]estament about the birth of Jesus?”

This is a purely Christian reading of the Bible, since Judaism does not

recognize a “New” Testament, nor interpret the Hebrew Scriptures as

predictive of it. And in some school districts (e.g., Escambia County),

the course materials even use the oxymoronic phrase “Hebrew Old

Testament.”

 

Apart from the impermissible sectarian perspective of such courses, they

present obstacles for those students who do not share that particular

religious view. A Jewish student, for example, who is asked where the “Old

Testament” contains a prophecy about the birth of Jesus would have obvious

difficulty in answering such a question. As discussed below, many of the

school districts appear to assume that all of the students taking these

courses are Christian.

 

In many of the school districts, the students are required to study, if

not memorize, the Ten Commandments. However, although the arrangement of

the Ten Commandments is different among Christians and Jews (and among

Christians as well), it does not appear that the students are made aware

of this. In most instances, the course materials refer generally to “the

Ten Commandments”; however, when the course materials do make clear which

version of the Ten Commandments is taught (e.g., in Levy County), it is a

Christian version.

 

The Christian perspective of these courses is typically a Protestant one.

For example, these courses generally do not include certain books of the

Bible that Catholics consider to be canon but Protestants do not. If these

books are mentioned at all, they are described as the “Apocryphal Books”

and not as scripture. For example, a curriculum that has been used in

Santa Rosa County and in Escambia County calls these books “The Apocrypha”

and describes them as “Intertestament Writings.” In the Levy County school

district, while students reportedly are permitted to use “biblical

translations of their choice,” that choice must be from “an original King

James Translation” – a Protestant version of the Bible. This would appear

to exclude Bibles recognized by religious traditions other than

Protestantism, e.g., the New American Bible accepted by Catholics, which

has 73 books, while the King James Version has 66.15

 

The problems inherent in this sectarian approach are compounded by the

fact that the teachers generally do not appear to inform the students that

they are learning only one particular religious interpretation of the

biblical text (e.g., that “the Fall of Man” is a Christian reading of the

Bible). Such non-objective instruction deprives the students of a truly

meaningful, academic education in which they would be exposed to, among

other things, the rich and diverse interpretations of the Bible.

 

The Bible is used as a history textbook.

 

As the courts have recognized, ” ‘the Bible is a religious book, or, more

accurately stated, a collection of religious books and writings which have

been selected and assembled for the religious teachings and messages

therein conveyed … Thus, to simply read the Bible without selectivity is

to read a religious book and to teach the Bible literally without

interpretation is to convey a religious message or teach a religious

lesson.’ ” Herdahl v. Pontotoc County School District, 933 F. Supp. 582,

596 (N.D. Miss. 1996) (quoting Wiley v. Franklin, 468 F. Supp. 133, 149

(E.D. Tenn. 1979)). In addition, the courts have also recognized that

“much of the Bible is not capable of historic verification (such as divine

creation, the ‘pre-existence’ of Jesus, Jesus’ miracles and the

resurrection), and can only be accepted as a matter of faith and religious

belief.” Herdahl, 933 F. Supp. at 596.

 

Teaching this biblical content as true in a public school improperly

crosses the line of neutrality and objectivity by endorsing religion and

inculcating students in religious beliefs.

 

For these reasons, the courts have held that the Bible cannot be taught in

a public school “as if [it] were actual literal history.” Herdahl, 933 F.

Supp. at 600. See also Lee County, 1 F. Supp. 2d at 1434 (“[t]his Court

… finds it difficult to conceive how the account of the resurrection or

of miracles could be taught as secular history”). Accordingly, the court

in Herdahl ordered that students, in a “Bible” course purportedly about

ancient Near East history, “must be assigned reading from non-biblical

sources of ancient Middle East history.” Herdahl, 933 F. Supp. at 600.16

 

Nonetheless, most of the Florida school districts teaching the “Bible

History” courses appear to be using the Bible as though it were a history

textbook and presenting the Bible as an historical record. The course

title itself, “Bible History,” suggests from the outset to students that

they will be learning what happened in the past – that is, learning

history – by reading the Bible. This is further underscored by the Florida

Department of Education’s placement of these courses in the “Social

Studies” group entitled “World and Eastern Hemispheric Histories,” which

also includes such high school courses as “World History,” “African

History,” “British History,” and “European History.”17

 

In a number of the school districts, the only “textbook” used in these

courses is the Bible, sometimes in combination with secondary Bible

resources (such as a Bible handbook). Often, these secondary resources are

not standard academic texts published for public school use but rather

products of religious publishing houses. For example, at Keystone Heights

High School in Clay County, the course “text” is the Bible, with Halley’s

Bible Handbook listed as a “resource.” Halley’s is published by Zondervan

Publishing House, which, according to its web site, is a “member of the

Evangelical Christian Publishers Association” and “an international

Christian communications company … dedicated to meeting the needs of

people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical

principles.”18 Generally, there is no indication that the students are

assigned reading from any non-biblical sources of history.

 

The presentation of the Bible as an historical record is routinely

confirmed by the written instructional materials. For example, the “Santa

Rosa County Curriculum” that is also used in Escambia County describes

Genesis 1-11 as the “Early history of man,” and refers to “Creation” and

“Flood” as “historical event[s].” Course materials from Plant City High

School in Hillsborough County call the Bible “the most reliable source for

history we have.” In the Walton County school district, the Gospels are

described as giving “a complete picture of Jesus’ life and teaching.”

 

Some schools appear to teach the Bible content by prefacing it with

“according to the Bible,” or “the Bible says.” Such qualifications,

however, do not render a history course based on the Bible constitutional.

Indeed, a claim that they do was specifically rejected by the court in

Herdahl. As the court explained, “the daily teaching of the content of a

book of religious proclamation does not become secular instruction merely

by informing students that the content is only what the Bible says;

indeed, for many students, that may well heighten the religious effect of

the course.” Herdahl, 933 F. Supp. at 596-97.

 

Students are assumed to be Christian and the Bible is taught accordingly.

 

A number of school districts appear to assume that only Christian students

would take the “Bible History” courses. A review of the instructional

materials suggests an assumption by these school districts that the

teachers and students are of the same (Christian) faith, with the Bible

approached accordingly, rather than in an objective and secular manner.

 

One of the most striking examples is from the Columbia County school

district, where students at Columbia High School are asked the following

exam question:

 

“If you had a Jewish friend who wanted to know if Jesus might be the

expectant [sic] Messiah, which book [of the Gospels] would you give him?”

 

Similar examples exist in other school districts:

 

“Compose an explanation of who Jesus is for someone who has never heard of

Him.”

(Final exam question at Madison County High School, Madison County)

 

“Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?”

(Exam question concerning I Corinthians used at both Vanguard High School

in Marion County and Williston High School in Levy County)

 

“What is Jesus Christ’s relationship to God, to creation, and to you?”

(Question asked of students at Niceville High School in Okaloosa County;

emphasis added.)

 

“Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the Jews? The devil.”

(Lesson used in Levy County on John 8)

 

Clearly, these lessons and exam questions not only reinforce some

Christian faiths, they would be problematic for students who are not

Christians.

 

In the Levy County school district, students are directed to bring a Bible

“from home,” and further told that they “may use biblical translations of

their choice as long [as] it is from an original King James Translation.”

(Emphasis added.) Not only does this appear to exclude Bibles not

recognized by Protestants, it also assumes that all students have a Bible

at home and, particularly, that they have the Protestant Bible in their

homes.

 

In some school districts, the use of the first person plural in referring

to “our” Bible or how “we” interpret the Bible also underscores the

assumption of religious homogeneity and the lack of an objective approach

to the courses. For example, the lessons plans at Port St. Joe High School

in Gulf County call for the teacher to discuss “[h]ow we got our Bible.”

 

Similarly, an exam question in Orange Park High School in Clay County

asks, “Five great sermons of our Lord are recorded in: (a) Matthew (b)

Mark (c) Luke (d) John.” At Mulberry High School in Polk County, one exam

question asks students, “How do we believe Peter died?” At Columbia High

School in Columbia County, students are asked, “What was the location of

Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac and why do we believe he went to

that location?” And at Williston High School in Levy County, the New

Testament exams ask such questions as, “What reason does Jesus give for

why we should not judge others?”

 

The absence of an objective and secular approach to the courses also

manifests itself in exam questions and answers that impermissibly depend

upon and make assumptions about the students’ own (presumably Christian)

religious beliefs. For example, at Niceville High School in Okaloosa

County, students are asked, “Do you think Satan took Jesus literally and

physically to the temple and the mountain? Why or why not?”

 

At Bartow High School in Polk County, students are required to “[p]ut

yourself in the shoes of Cain and tell me if you would do the same as him

[sic] or different than him [sic] and why.” Similarly, at Middleburg High

School in Clay County, students are asked, “Is it important to have faith

in a religion?”

 

At Port St. Joe High School in Gulf County, students are asked whether the

following is “true or false:” “The Old Testament prophecies were not

fulfilled in the New Testament.” The answer to this question, of course,

is a matter of religious faith, not fact. Similarly, at Walton High School

in Walton County, students are asked, “What eight aspects of Christ’s life

are prophesied in Isaiah?” – which is a book of the Hebrew Scriptures.

This question likewise assumes the Christian belief that the Hebrew

Scriptures foretell parts of the New Testament. In fact, there really are

no “correct” answers to such questions; rather, the answers depend

entirely on the particular sectarian perspective and interpretation that

one brings to the Bible.

 

 

The Bible is used to promote Christian faith formation and religious

values and lessons.

 

While public school students may be taught about the different beliefs of

different religious groups, a public school cannot proselytize to its

students or train them in a particular religion. Likewise, while students

may learn about civic values and be taught that religious groups believe

in certain values as a matter of their religious faith, they may not be

encouraged to adopt such values as a matter of faith or because they are

found in the Bible. Nonetheless, some of the school districts teaching the

“Bible History” courses appear to be using the Bible as a basis for

Christian faith formation and life lessons, which is religious teaching,

not secular instruction.

 

For example, in the Indian River County school district, students taking

the “Bible History” course have been required to engage in “challenging

group and individual work to figure out what the parables [of Jesus] are

telling us today,” and to explain, “Why do you think God says to love your

enemies?” At Madison County High School, the “New Testament” final exam

asks students to write an essay, “[u]sing Scripture reference to support

[their] thoughts,” about each of the following topics: “God’s Plan For The

Family; Living A Victorious Life In The World Which Is So Dark; and God’s

Directions For Righteous Living.” And course materials used in the Levy

County school district state in the “study guide” for Joshua: “God is not

content with our doing what is right some of the time. He wants us to do

what is right all the time. We are under his orders to eliminate any

thoughts, practices, or possessions that hinder our devotion to him.”

 

At Middleburg High School in Clay County, students are given “one section

of the Sermon on the Mount” every other week during the “New Testament”

semester (e.g., “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”)

and required to write an essay in which they answer the questions: “How is

it relative [sic] to their life? [and] How is it relative [sic] to the

world we live in?” During the “Old Testament” semester, students are given

“one Commandment” every other week (e.g., “You shall have no other gods

before me”) and required to write an essay discussing “How is the

Commandment relative [sic] to you and your life? [and] How is the

Commandment relative [sic] to the world we live in?” And at Columbia High

School in Columbia County, students are asked this exam question: “We can

see in the Temptation Story of the 3rd Chapter of Genesis that we of the

20th Century haven’t changed much from the days of Adam and Eve. What

stages in the Temptation and Fall of Man do we still find ourselves [in]

today?”

 

Such instruction is constitutionally problematic in public schools. As the

court held in Herdahl, “to inculcate students … into the beliefs and

moral code of fundamentalist Christianity [is] an admirable goal perhaps

for some private citizens or for a private religious school, but a

forbidden one for the government.”

 

Sunday-school and other religious training exercises are used to

indoctrinate students in Bible content.

 

Many of the school districts require their students to engage in the type

of rote memorization of the Bible that one would find in a Sunday school,

or to engage in other Sunday-school type activities clearly intended to

inculcate students in Bible content. For instance, some school districts

require students to memorize the names of the 27 books of the “New

Testament,” in order. At Walton High School in Walton County, one of the

exams requires students to identify, “from memory – all Old Testament

books with the appropriate divisions.” Some school districts require

students to be able to identify the source (Bible book, chapter and verse)

of specified Bible quotes. At Vanguard High School in Marion County, some

exams require students to find specified Bible verses and then “copy them

in full” from their Bibles.

 

And in some school districts, the teacher uses games or puzzles to further

students’ memorization of Bible content. For example, at Port St. Joe High

School in Gulf County, the students “Play Bingo w/Gospels,” and the

teacher also uses seemingly juvenile puzzles requiring regurgitation of

Bible content. These exercises also do not seem age-appropriate for high

school students, another indication that their purpose is not objective or

secular, but to inculcate students in the content of the Christian Bible.

 

Similar exercises were required of students in the Lee County case. That

school district’s New Testament curriculum, for example, called for the

students “to memorize ‘the order of the books of the New Testament’ (27

total) as well as to memorize ‘the Beatitudes and/or Similitudes (e.g.,

the pronouncement of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount that ‘Blessed are

the merciful…’).” Declaration of Professor T.W. Lewis, III, at 9.

According to Professor Lewis, “[i]n my opinion, there is no legitimate

pedagogic purpose to such rote memorization in a secular history class.

These tasks are typical of what children do in Sunday school, and are a

means of further inculcating children in the Christian Bible.”

 

The Origins and Development of the Bible

 

The text deals with the formation of the Hebrew Bible (oral stage, writing

stage, and canonization), the formation of the Christian Bible (oral

stage, writing stage, and canonization), and the process of translation.

Some of the ideas presented are based on assumptions.  Keep asking for the

evidence upon which these assumptions are based.  You are not obligated to

accept assumptions that have little evidence to back them up.  Consider

the discussion as a possibility, but keep your options open for other

conclusions. Read Beasley, et al, pp. 51-67.

 

Biblical historians have many different opinions on

who is responsible for the authorship of the New

Testament writings. Concentrating on 1 and 2 Peter,

their different conclusions can be analyzed. Scholars

approach the study of authorship by carefully going

over the writings themselves. They discover the how,

when, why, who, and where of the writings. Each New

Testament scholar has come to their own conclusion of

the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter through this. Their

different views of the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter

will be discussed and compared in this paper. 1 Peter

is a New Testament writing. It has only five chapters

that seems to portray the purpose of bringing hope to

Christians. Christians should lead their lives by

serving God and knowing that the judgement of God

will be coming. Their faith will be tested, but

Christians are told stay true to God. The point is to

tell Christians that they should keep to their faith

no matter what is going on in the world. The people

being addressed where those of the church whom were

estranged from their old life. This letter has the

same pattern of a Pauline letter, opening with a

greeting and thanksgiving. Then it gives the purpose

and reflects on the identity of Christians. It ends

with an exhortation and closing. It is done neatly

and kept in order. 1 Paul seems to have been written

in Rome. It is written for the churches in the area

of northern Asia Minor. The time period could range

from 60-72 C. E. during the time of Paul whom is

considered to have traditional authorship. 2 Peter

appears to be the “last testament” of the apostle who

had authorship of it. Correct teaching is emphasized,

showing that is a major concern of the author. The

letter gives a warning that judgement will condemn

those without good ethical conduct. This includes all

heretics. In 2 Peter’s three chapters, the author

expresses his believe of the time when judgement will

come. The author uses the Hebrew Scriptures, the

prophets’ testimonies, Peter’s eyewitness of the

transfiguration of Jesus, and the writings of Paul.

The author’s point is that the Parousia is real and

not a myth. 2 Peter tells that the reason for the

delay of the Parousia is that God’s time is different

from human time. So, the coming has not occurred when

it was believed it should have. It also says that God

is delaying the coming to give time for humans to

repent. 2 Peter seems to also have been written

during the Apostolic Age and is one of the last New

Testament writings. In The New Oxford Annotated

Bible, the authorship seems to be pointing to Peter

himself to be the author. It also says that Silvanus

could have been the author, but it is very doubtful.

In the beginning, Peter is named, but at the end,

Silvanus is mentioned in the closing. In 2 Peter, the

letter is presented to have been written by Simeon

Peter. He says that he is the servant and apostle of

Jesus, but there is doubt to this. By him saying

this, doubts of authorship is brought forth. The time

period is confused by the author saying this. The

reason for this is Simeon Peter’s death was predicted

by Jesus. If this happened, then he could not have

been an apostle of Peter. Also, he claims to have had

fellowship with Peter, but the way the author

presents his interpretation of Paul’s letters, it is

doubtful. Another source is The Interpreter’s Bible

Volume 12. This source also expresses authorship

concerns, stating that 1 Peter was written by Peter

with the help of Sylvanus who was like a brother to

Peter. The place where 1 Peter was written seems to

have been Rome. This is because of the fact Babylon

is mentioned, and it is considered to be a cryptic

name meaning Rome. The time period seems to have been

in 60 C. E. because this is during the time of the

lifetime of Peter. 2 Peter’s authorship is also

discussed. Simon Peter is said to have been the

author but this source doubts it. The difference is

style with 1 Peter expresses that they do not have

the same authors. The author is unknown, but wrote in

the spirit of Peter, condemning heresy. Rome is

considered to have been the place of authorship.

Since there is proof that 1 Peter was written in

Rome, and due to the fact that 2 Peter is heavily

influenced by it, then 2 Peter was also written in

Rome. The influence that 1 Peter has on 2 Peter

proves this. 2 Peter is also considered to have been

written in the middle of the second century. A third

source is The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.

It expresses that the beginning of 1 Peter definitely

shows that the author is Peter himself. Also, the

author stating that he was an eyewitness to Jesus

backs up the belief that he is the author. There is

no evidence why he wrote it. Only the belief that he

did it to fortify the faith of who he was writing to

could have been the explanation. There are arguments

against Peter being the author. These come from

claims that he only speaks of Jesus’ death and

resurrection. The only explanation is that he is less

concerned with his life, and more concerned with the

fact that his death brought grace. This source states

that there is no proof that can say Peter was not the

author. If Peter is the author, then the date of the

writings can fall around 64 or 67 C. E. This source

also discusses the authorship of 2 Peter. The apostle

Simon Peter is considered to have authorship. This is

considered to be an unclear fact though. The purpose

of 2 Peter is clearer than the authorship. It is to

go against the skepticism of the Parousia. It is

considered to be written around the second century,

long after the apostolic age. A fourth source is The

Anchor Bible Series. This source discusses that the

question of the author’s identity is raised in the

text. Silvanus is questioned to be the author. He

could be Peter’s secretary, his collaborator, or the

true author. Paul is noted to be the author, but the

mention of Silvanus in the text puts questions on

this fact. The theological character of 1 Peter seems

to have some of Silvanus’s touch in it. The language

of 1 Peter also suggests this. The author has heavy

influence of Pauline writings, and this shows that

Peter might not be the author. For Peter to base a

lot of 1 Peter on Pauline writings would make him

switch from his Jewish beliefs to a more Gentile

Christianity. It could be possible but very doubtful.

The language of 1 Peter is more toward a Greek style

than that of a Galilean fisherman, which was what

Peter was. This could possibly show that he must have

collaborated with someone, which was Sivanus. 2

Peter’s author presents himself as the apostle Peter.

This would be Simeon Peter. This source believes that

it was a follower of Peter that wrote 2 Peter though.

The author’s purpose seemed to have been to preserve

the apostolic tradition. Also, 2 Peter does not have

any personal information about Jesus, showing that he

could not have been Peter. The language is portrayed

as Hellenistic, and not of a Galilean fisherman. This

shows that the author is unknown. There is no other

evidence that tells who the author could have been.

The latest 2 Peter was written could have been 90 C.

E. It is also believed that since the author wanted

to have the identity of Peter, then the place of

authorship was Rome. As noted above, there are

different views on the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter.

Some of the bible scholars contrast each other and

others are agree upon certain facts. For 1 Peter

there is very many questions as to who the author is.

The evidence points mostly to Peter being the true

author. Silvanus has also been considered to be the

author. If the evidence is examined closely, he could

have only been Peter’s scribe. Some say that he was

the author, or either he helped Peter write the

letter. The text has many different influences that

come from Peter though, so Silvanus might not have

had anything to do with the writing of the letter. 2

Peter’s author will probably stay anonymous. Although

Simeon Peter could have been the author there is

strong evidence that he was not. It could have been

someone who wanted to uphold the apostolic tradition,

so this person wrote as Peter. The author only

portrayed himself as Peter and was not actually Peter

himself. Bible scholars will probably continue to

study the authorship if 1 and 2 Peter. One day they

might find hard evidence to who the author really

was. Until then they can only use the text of the

Bible to research the authorship. For 1 Peter, the

authorship has more evidence showing Peter was the

author. 2 Peter’s author could have been Peter but

more evidence points to an unknown author.

 

The origin of the English Bibles of today can be traced to a time when

men, under the divine inspiration of God, first wrote the books of the

Bible.  This word of God was transmitted from generation to generation by

handwritten copies and by word-of-mouth.  As men began to realize how

valuable these teachings were, attempts were made to collate these

teachings into a single comprehensive book.

 

Most of what we now know as the Old Testament was originally written in

Hebrew, and the New Testament largely in common (koine) Greek.  Since no

printing press existed until 1450 AD, all the original compilations of the

Bible were done by hand.

 

The history and development of the English Bible can be divided into 3

sessions; ancient versions in other languages, early English versions, and

the New English versions (since 1901).  Brief descriptions of the

significant versions in those time periods follow.  A Bible “Family Tree”

diagram is also included at the end of this historical section.

 

ANCIENT VERSIONS IN OTHER LANGUAGES

 

The Septuagint Version (285 BC) – This was a translation of the Old

Testament Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.  Probably done in Alexandria.  The

Samaritan Pentateuch BC?) – A copy of the Hebrew text done in

Samaritan characters.

 

The Peschito or Syriac (1st or 2nd Century AD) – A common language

translation of the entire Bible used in parts of Syria.

The Codex Sinia us(330 AD) – A manuscript that contained the Greek Bible.

It was purchased from Russia in 1933 by Great Britain and is now housed in

the British Museum.

 

The Codex Vatican us (340 AD) – this manuscript is currently housed in the

Vatican library in Rome.  It originally contained the whole Bible, but

parts have been lost.

 

The Vulgate (400 AD) – A Roman Catholic scholar in Bethlehem by the name

of Jerome translated the entire Bible into Latin.  This Bible became the

standard in the Catholic church for well over 1,000 years.

 

The Codex Alexandrinus (425 AD) – This Bible is another Green translation.

It is currently housed in the British museum, complete except 40 leaves.

 

Early English Versions

 

All of the earliest attempts at translating the Bible into English were

fragmented.  For example, Bishop Aldhelm of Sherbourne translated the

Psalm into Old English around 709.  Venerable Bede, a monk at Jarrow,

translated a potion of the Gospel of John.  By 900 AD all the Gospels and

most of the Old Testament had been translated into Old English.

John Wycliffe (1380) – was the first to plan a complete English

translation of the Bible from the Latin.  His translation was based on the

Latin Vulgate.  He completed the New Testament prior to his death, and his

friends completed the work after his death.

 

 

Printing Press Invented – 1450

 

William Tyndale (1525-30) – Driven from England by persecution, William

Tyndale shared Wycliffe’s desire to produce a Bible that the common

English speaking person could understand.  Using the Latin Vulgate and

other ancient sources, Tyndale was able to translate the New Testament and

Pentateuch before he was martyred.

Miles Coverdale (1535) – A friend of Tyndale’s Coverdale was able to

publish a complete Bible.  It is generally believed Coverdale used

Tyndale’s work in producing his New Testament.  This Bible was done to

honor King Henry, the VIII.

Matthew’s Bible (1537) – Despite the name, it is widely accepted that a

friend of Tyndale, John Rogus, did most of the work on this Bible.  Based

largely on Tyndale’s previous work, it also contains evidences of

Coverdale’s work as well.  This might well be considered an updated

Tyndale’s Bible.

The Great Bible (1539) – This Bible takes its name from its great physical

size.  Based on the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Matthew’s Bibles, it was used

mainly in churches.  Often chained to a reading desk in a church, people

would come to listen as a minister read from the Great Bible.

The Geneva Bible (1560) – Produced in Geneva by scholars who had fled

persecution in England under Queen Mary, this Bible was based not only on

the Great Bible, but also on the English translations of that day.  Though

very scholarly, it was a popular Bible because of its small size.  The

Bishop’s Bible (1568) – This was a revision of the Great Bible and Geneva

Bible done under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the

reign of Elizabeth.

Douay-Rheims Bible (1582-1610) – The New Testament was published in Rheims

in 1582 and the Old Testament in Douay in 1610.  A Revision of the Latin

Vulgate, this has become the generally accepted English Version for the

Roman Catholic Church.

King James Version, KJV (1611) – The most popular translation ever

produced, this Bible was done during the reign and at the urging of King

James the I of England.  Forty-seven (47) scholars, divided into 6 groups,

worked on this translation.  Based largely on the Bishop’s Bible, many

Hebrew and Greek texts were also studies as well as all the other

available English translations, to insure the best results.  By choosing

men of many different theological and educational backgrounds, it was

hoped individual prejudices of the translators could be minimized.

Printed in a handy size and in clear type, the KJV was supposed to please

clergy and congregations alike.  Despite initial resistance, the KJV

became and still is the largest selling translation of the Bible.

 

Revised Version (1881-1884) – Designed to be a revision of the KJV, the

Revised Version, had the advantage of being able to access some of the

ancient manuscripts.  Although this revision was sponsored by the Church

of England, many American scholars were invited to participate.

 

New English Versions (1901 to Present)

 

American Standard Version, ASV (1901) – This revision of the Revised

Version incorporates many of the readings first suggested by the American

members of the Revision committee of 1881 – 1885.

 

Complete Bible: An American Translation (1939) – Often referred to as the

Goodspeed Version, this translation was done by Edgar J. Goodspeed and

J.M. Povis Smith.  Using as many ancient texts as possible, Smith and

Goodspeed produced a very readable and yet accurate translation.  Also

included in this translation was the Apocrypha.

 

Revised Standard Version, RSV (1952) – The National Council of Churches of

Christ procured the copyright to the 1901 ASV Bible in the 1920’s.  Work

began on a revision to the ASV, but was abandoned in favor of an entirely

new translation.  Since many more Hebrew and Greek manuscripts were

available to these scholars than were available in 1901, the RSV is

considered to be much more accurate.  A very readable translation, the RSV

is used in many Protestant denominations today.  The revision committee

continued to meet at regular intervals and in 1971 a new release was made

of the RSV.  This has been dibbed the RSV II edition.

 

New Testament in Modern English (1958) – First published in 1958 and

revised in 1973, this translation, done by British writer J.B. Phillips,

is one of the best readings of the New Testament.  It is published today

by MacMillan Publishers of New York.

 

Berkley Version (1959) – This modern English version was done under the

direction of Dr. Gerrit Verkuyl.  Dr. Verkuyl translated the New Testament

from the Greek himself.  The Old Testament was translated by a committee

of 20 scholars with Dr. Verkuyl overseeing the project.  Although this was

a very good translation, it never has been widely accepted or used.

 

Amplified Bible (1965) – this modern English Version was sponsored by the

non-profit Lockman Foundation of California.  Committees of Hebrew and

Greek scholars tried to pay particular attention to the true translation

of key words in the ancient texts.  By bracketing explanatory words or

phrases directly in the text, they eliminated the need to look elsewhere

on the page for the other helps.  A very popular Bible, the bracketing

poses a problem for simple reading of the text.  Currently this Bible is

available in either KJV or in a parallel with other translations and is

published by Zondervan Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Jerusalem Bible (1966) – Basically a Roman Catholic translation, this

Bible was originally a multi-volume translation done in French at the

Ecole Biblique et Archeologuque in Jerusalem.  Using all available sources

including the Dead Sea Scrolls, this translation also included extensive

scholarly notes.  In the English translation, the original documents were

again used with references made to the original French translation.  The

Jerusalem Bible also includes the Apocrypha.  Although the notes are

strongly Roman Catholic, the translation is relatively non-sectarian.  The

Jerusalem Bible is published by Doubleday Publishers of Garden City, New

York.

 

New Testament:  A New Translation (1968-69) – Translated by William

Barclay of England, this translation is neither technical nor difficult.

The problem with this Bible is the extensive intrusion of Mr. Barclay’s

own personal views in the text.  To properly use this translation, another

Bible should be available for comparison.

 

New English Bible, NEB (1970) – A committee of scholars from the leading

denominations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, cooperating with

the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, was to produce a new translation

from the Hebrew and Greek.  This Bible was to be used as an authoritative

version along side the KJV.  Due the NEB’s rather free use of the English

language, many verses of scripture became almost paraphrases rather than

translations.  The Apocrypha is included in the NEB.  Since the NEB often

uses unfamiliar British expressions, this Bible has not received wide

acceptance in America.  The NEB is jointly published by Cambridge and

Oxford University Presses.

 

New American Bible, NAB (1970) – This Roman Catholic translation

originally came directly from the Latin Vulgate.  The Catholic Biblical

Association of America compared this translation to the Hebrew and Greek

manuscripts then available.  The three volumes Old Testament and single

volume New Testament were then combined into a single volume.  Although

some Protestant translators helped on this project, this is still

basically a Roman Catholic Bible.

 

New American Standard, NAS (1971) – The Lockman Foundation f La Habra,

California (see Amplified Bible) set out to produce the “Most technically

accurate translation of the Bible possible.”  Partially because of their

dissatisfaction with the RSV’s revision of the 1901 American Standard

version, the Lockman foundation chose to use the best Greek and Hebrew

texts available to revise the ASV.  Though many conservative scholars

consider this to be the most accurate translation available, because of

the NAS’s desire for technical accuracy, it is not the most readable of

the modern translations.

 

Living Bible, LNB (1974) – This is the work of one man, Kenneth N. Taylor.

 Not a translation in the true sense, Mr. Taylor set out to produce a

paraphrase of the ASV Bible using the words and terms his children could

readily understand.  After founding Tyndale House Publishing, Mr. Taylor

then expanded the availability of the LNB to include study Bible and

cassettes.  The current Bible entitled “The Book” is essentially the LNB

version.

 

Today’s English Version, TEV (1976) – Often referred to as the “Good News

Bible,” this was a project sponsored by the American Bible Society to

produce a Bible in English for people whose primary language was not

English.  Mr. Robert G. Bratcher did the work on the New Testament, and it

was published in 1966.  The Society then continued the work to include the

Old Testament.  Although particular attention was directed toward

accuracy, the translators sometimes sacrificed this accuracy for

readability.  Due to the TEV’s very up-to-date language and in many cases

some modern pop art illustrations, it has become a popular edition for

teenagers.

 

New International Version, NIV (1978) – The New York Bible Society

sponsored this translation of the Bible.  A committee was formed to search

worldwide for Bible scholars from colleges, universities and seminaries

that would represent varied backgrounds and denominations.  Each book of

the Bible was assigned to a different team of scholars, who then used the

best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts to do the actual

translation.  Additional committees checked and re-checked the

translations for accuracy as well as understandability.  This combination

of accuracy and readability has propelled the NIV to the Number 2 spot in

Bible sales behind the KJV.  Zondervan Publishing of Grand Rapids,

Michigan owns the rights to the NIV Bible.

 

New King James Version, NKJV (1982) – Thomas Nelson Bible Publishers and

the International Trust for Bible Studies co-sponsored this update of the

1611 KJV Bible.  119 scholars worked on this project to make the KJV

version more accurate and readable and yet maintain the grace and beauty

of the original KJV text.  Generally, the translators used the best

available texts in  their work, but rather than assuming the oldest was

the most accurate, they chose to use the texts found most often in the

ancient writings.  While not as popular as the old KJV or NIV versions,

the KNJV consistently remains in the top 5 best selling versions in the

United States.

 

Revised English Bible REB (1989) – Under the auspices of the Universities

of Oxford and Cambridge, a committee of leading Bible scholars revised and

updated the New English Bible.  This was the first major revision of the

New English Bible since its release in 1970.  Particular attention was

paid to archaic words, phrases, and sentence structure.  This

re-examination was done by referring to the most current manuscripts,

commentaries and exegesis.  The REB provides the reader with fluent, yet

dignified English while still maintaining the full intent of the original

texts.

 

New Revised Standard Version NSRV (1990) – This Bible was released in late

1990 and culminated 15 years of work by special committee of scholars.

This committee was under the sponsorship of the division of Education and

Ministry of the National Council of Churches.  This original Revised

Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version can trance their

roots to the King James Version.  While maintaining the tradition of the

KJV, the New Revised Standard Version aimed for accuracy rather than

simply paraphrasing.  It can then be considered a literal translation.

The revision committee was chaired by Professor Bruce Metzger of the

Princeton Theological Seminary.  Mr. Metzger’s instructions were

“introduce only changes as were warranted on the basis of accuracy,

clarity, euphony and current English language usage.”  The New Revised

Standard version is available from several publishers.

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