Bible Influences on America!
1/26/13 at 02:36 PM 0 Comments

The Bible & Its Significance In History & Literature

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Do you know about the influences of the Bible on American culture?

My name is Larry Dozier; and I had the pleasure of compiling this unit of study. As a result of my public high school and college teaching experiences covering over 20 years, I felt compelled to create a unit of study that would reinstate the significance of the Bible in History and Literature in all World/US History text books/curricula. This unit of study was compiled to simply accentuate and validate the significance of the Bible, while making it available as a supplementary instructional resource to all Social Studies teachers. Whether one sees the Bible as the “Word of God,” a perennial bestseller, a great piece of literature or just history, I think most would agree that a basic knowledge of the Bible is essential in understanding Western culture, laws, government, religion, business, media, politics, and even entertainment.

The following April 2, 2009 issue of Time magazine endorsed teaching the Bible in public schools as its cover story as follows:

"It's the bedrock of Western culture"

In its cover story "The Case for Teaching the Bible" subtitled "Should the Holy Book be on the public school menu? Yes. It's the bedrock of Western culture. And it's constitutional--as long as we teach but don't preach it," author David Van Biema offers this insight:

"SIMPLY PUT, 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. In a 1992 survey of English teachers to determine the top-10 required "book-length works" in high school English classes, plays by Shakespeare occupied three spots and the Bible none. And yet, let's compare the two: Beauty of language: Shakespeare, by a nose. Depth of subject matter: toss-up. Breadth of subject matter: the Bible. Numbers published, translated etc: Bible. Number of people martyred for: Bible. Number of wars attributed to: Bible. Solace and hope provided to billions: you guessed it. And Shakespeare would almost surely have agreed. According to one estimate, he alludes to Scripture some 1,300 times. As for the rest of literature, when your seventh-grader reads The Old Man and the Sea, a teacher could tick off the references to Christ's Passion--the bleeding of the old man's palms, his stumbles while carrying his mast over his shoulder, his hat cutting his head--but wouldn't the thrill of recognition have been more satisfying on their own?

"If literature doesn't interest you, you also need the Bible to make sense of the ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history.”The shining city on the hill?" That's Puritan leader John Winthrop quoting Matthew to describe his settlement's covenantal standing with God. In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln noted sadly that both sides in the Civil War "read the same Bible" to bolster their opposing claims. When Martin Luther King Jr. talked of "Justice rolling down like waters" in his "I Have a Dream" speech, he was consciously enlisting the Old Testament prophet Amos, who first spoke those words. The Bible provided the argot--and theological underpinnings--of women's suffrage and prison-reform movements.

"And then there is today's political rhetoric. For a while, secular liberals complained that when George W. Bush went all biblical, he was speaking in code. Recently, the Democratic Party seems to have come around to the realization that a lot of grass-roots Democrats welcome such use. Without the Bible and a few imposing secular sources, we face a numbing horizontality in our culture--blogs, political announcements, ads. The world is flat, sure. But Scripture is among our few means to make it deep."

FAMOUS QUOTE: George Washington, first U.S. President, said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

A 21st Century national report, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, entitled Bible Literacy Report II: What University Professors Say Incoming Students Need to Know, revealed that English professors surveyed at leading US universities--including Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford--agreed that “regardless of a person’s faith, an educated person needs to know about the Bible.” “The new national survey of university professors concludes that high schools should make Bible knowledge part of their curriculum, especially for college preparatory students. English professors surveyed said students need Bible literacy to understand the many Biblical references in English literature,” said Wachlin. “Doing so requires curricula that simultaneously (a) acknowledge the Bible’s status as sacred scripture to millions of Americans, (b) are fair to students of all faith traditions, and (c) are of high academic quality,” explained Wachlin.

This introduction is designed to be part of a supplementary, biblical literacy teaching unit especially prepared to complement USA Public School World/US History textbooks curricula. Whether one is a true believer, an atheist, an agnostic, a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a teacher, or a student, this unit will intrigue and enlighten you. With well documented historical and literary facts, typically not taught in public schools, this study will cause you to raise an eyebrow, while challenging you to reconsider the way you have understood history and how it has been taught in the US over the last 50-60 years. You will also learn how reading the Bible and daily prayer were encouraged and regularly practiced in public schools for over 200 years.
Starting with Moses, then going to Abraham, the Jews, the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformation, the Founding Fathers of the USA and ending in the 21st Century; this study will highlight the positive influences of the Bible. You will learn about some of the significant changes that have occurred because people read the Bible and encountered its mysterious power and wisdom.

This study highlights why, for over two thousand years, men and women have gladly sacrificed their lives and freedom to read/communicate the messages of the Bible to all of mankind through the Hebrew Scriptures (The Torah/Tanakh), the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, the German Geneva Bible and the 1611 King James Bible in English. These and other Bible manuscripts or translations will be defined and discussed later in this unit.

FACTOID: “Turn!, Turn!, Turn!/To Everything There Is A Season”. Originally written by “Pete Seeger” and released by “The Byrd’s” in the 1960’s, it was one of their two #1 hits in the USA. The lyrics were based on a passage from the book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible. They were married to Seeger's music to make the song. In a 1988 interview with Paul Zollo, Seeger explained: "I don't read the Bible that often… I call it the greatest book of folklore ever given… You can trace the history of people poetically."

So what makes the Bible so special? One reason has to do with its amazing unity, though written by 40 different authors over about 1500 years on three different continents and in three different languages! These authors came from a variety of different backgrounds, including a military general (Joshua), a prime minister (Daniel), a tax collector (Matthew), a medical doctor (Luke), a fisherman (Simon Peter), a cupbearer for a king (Nehemiah) and many others. These authors also wrote in various places such as the wilderness (Moses), in prison (Paul) and the Isle of Patmos (John). Further, the biblical writings were composed on three different continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe and in three different languages- Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, while also differing greatly in their educational backgrounds and cultures.

FACTOID: “When it comes to literary pursuits in the United States most people agree on at least one thing — the most popular book is the Bible” “The Bible is number one among each of the different demographic groups”.

The Bible is the most influential and widely spread book ever to exist. It is translated into more languages than any other book. According to a worldwide status of Bible translation (2007) from the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the numbers are significant. “1,168 is the number of language communities which have access to the New Testament in their heart language. 438 is the number of language communities which have access to the entire Bible in the language they understand best.”

There are hundreds of organizations committed to promoting Bible Reading, printing Bibles, and distributing Bibles. Why is the Bible so significant that thousands of individuals do everything in their power to get the word out? Is it because for centuries the Bible has withstood many critics and skeptics? Or, is it because its moral values have stood the test of time? And lastly, could it be because it has influenced most every ethnic group and its culture?

ART: Michelangelo created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

MUSIC: “Bob Dylan, a voice of a generation, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his music for his profound contribution to American Culture through his music. Interestingly enough, some of Bob Dylan’s lyrics quote the scriptures, for instance - “They say prayer has the power to heal/So pray for me mother / In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell/I am a-tryin’ to love my neighbor and do good unto others/But oh, mother, things ain’t going well.” from “Ain’t Talkin’”.

LITERTATURE: C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, outlines sacrifice and redemption. John Milton, author of the classic poem, Paradise Lost, depicts the story of the fall of man as told in the Bible.

MOVIE THEMES: Prominent movie themes such as good versus evil create emotional connections as proven throughout the series of The Lord of the Ring, The Passion and The Ten Commandments.

GOVERNMENT: Our founding fathers based their decisions on biblical principles. John Adams, our second president quoted “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the
Bible for their only law book. And every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God”. (Diary, Feb. 22, 1756)

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: William Wilberforce read the Bible daily and memorized scripture. He was a man who was very influential in the abolition of slavery in the 18th century. William Wilberforce and US President Abraham Lincoln regularly read the Bible. Did the Bible influence them to abolish slavery? Many think so.

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