Back to the Bible
Swift, Diana, Anglican Journal
"The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity."
"We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy.! find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane histoty whatsoever."
The above remarks were penned by a) an evangelist, b) a professor of divinity ore) the leader of an online Bible study group.
I expect you'll say "none of the above," and you are right, of course. The first remark comes from the 18th-century German metaphysician and philosopher, Immanuel Kant; the second from the English 17th-century scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton.
But today, despite its profound spiritual, ethical, artistic and cultural relevance, the Bible seems to have fallen out of favour with Christians as an object of study. Back in the late-1960s, I spent a year as the fledgling Classics mistress at a large Anglican girls' school, teaching Grades 10 to 12. The vast majority of students came from Christian families, attended chapel every morning and studied scripture, too (mainly New Testament).
Even back then, I was struck by how much more the girls knew about the culture and stories of classical antiquity than the Bible, particularly the books of the Old Testament. After their ninth-grade English-lit module in Greek mythology and their beginners' study of Latin poets such as Virgil and Ovid, they knew all about the rod of Mercury, but not the rod of Aaron. They were very familiar with the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, far less so with the tale of Joseph and the coat of many colours. …