Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Teaching the Bible in Georgia Public Schools

Georgia prepares to establish the Bible in its public school curriculum. The proposal is to allow elective classes to be taught in the history and literature of the Bible. I think the proposal is interesting and does have merit. No book has influenced Western culture as much as the Bible. However, I'm not sure the religious conservatives who are pushing this effort are ready for all the implications. There is a great amount of contemporary, mainline Biblical Scholarship that would directly contradict the message of most Fundamentalists, such as:
  • None of the Gospels were written by the names of those they are attributed to (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John), nor were any authors of the Gospels eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. The gospels would have been written 40 - 70 years after the death of Christ.
  • The first five books of the Old Testament were not written by Moses, but instead is the editing together of a variety of different written traditions (some which descended from Oral traditions). Each of these different sources had different perspectives and agendas.
It would seem a nonsectarian, "objective" teaching of the Bible would need to take items like this seriously. I don't think this is what most religious conservatives mean when they call for a critical analysis of creation!

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