Reasons Why Nonreligious People Should Read The Bible
This will not be a religious diatribe. Whether you are religious or not you should read the bible in order to be well educated. From the common era, until the turn of the 21st century, the average person learned to read using the bible. In most homes books were rare. The one book that was likely to be found in a home was the bible. Almost everyone learned to read using the bible. Because most literature orginated from western civilization, it was natural for writers to use biblical imagery. The biblical imagery gave clarity to writing because it waas assumed most people knew biblical imagergy and had the same frame of reference as the writer. Suzanna Westley is said to have taught her children to read using only the bible. No small fete considering she had more than a dozenchildren.
Reason Number One
If being well educated is something you aspire to, read the bible. Biblical literacy helps us understand the classics like: Dante's Inferno, Paradise Lost, Pilgrims Progress, Moby Dick etc... You see biblical themes in novels like T.H. White's The Once and Future King.
Some profess to see biblical themes in Harry Potter, Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. Without bibical literacy you can't say one way or another.
Classics are dull and boring without the education you need to get the jokes and imagery. Everybody has heard a joke they didn't get because they didn't understand something. This is especially true of idioms to a person learning a second language. What is the first thing you think when you hear, "He has lost their marbles"? If you are a native English speaker you think someone is mentally ill or not thinking correctly. If this were your second language you would most likely think a man had lost the round stones used to play a game.
I feel strongly that reading should be enjoyable. There is a wonderful science fiction novel written by Robert Heinlein that is based on the biblical book of Job . He called it Job. This is only one of Heinlein's works with biblical imagery.
Where do you first learn words like "offal" if you don't read the bible. Read the bible, so you will get the jokes and the classics will come alive.
Reason Number Two
Are you curious about history and the origin of words; Do you ever wonder where sayings like "Sour grapes", "Set your teeth on edge", "Eat drink and be merry", and my favorite, "Looking for trouble" come from"? Are words just words or do they have meaning?
If you want to truly understand what is happening today in the Middle East read the bible. Saying that Israel did this or that to the Palestinians in the six day war is shortsighted when the history of war in Israel is centuries old. The history of Israel is older than the common era. Unless you understand the ideology in the bible you can not understand the ideology guiding the conflict in the Middle East. Oil was not a factor until cars and air planes became popular. Oil greedy Americans don't even show up in Israels wars until the late 1800's and early l900's. Americans don't show up in what is considered to be the last battle that Israel will fight either.
Reason Number Three
Law. Until Supreme court justice Sandra Day O'Connor started using international justice, in the her opinions, the majority of our civil and criminal law was based on biblical principles. Our founding fathers be they deist,or Christians were familiar with the bible. The average farmer could read in 1700. Reading material was very valuable. A newspaper would be passed from neighbor to neighbor. Most people had at a family bible.
Alexis De Tocquevillecertainly understood biblical principals when he wrote Democracy in America.
Reason Number Four
Read the bible to find out what the big deal is about Judaism and Christianity. That's more history isn't it? I took a Judaism class one summer instead of philosophy. Wow! I learned about a culture that was completely foreign to this California girl.
I learned about Judaism, and one of the texts was a bible.
Ordering a Kosher meal on an international flight is a good way to avoid dairy if you are allergic. Kosher never mixes dairy with other foods. The bible doesn't tell you why, you have to go to Jewish history for the answer.
Reason Number Five
Art. The imagery of the gospels in the Book of Kells is worth the trip to Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland just for a glimpse. After visiting Trinity college you will want to go to Kells to look at one of the places the bible is believed to have been copied. It leads you to the thought, "What was so special, that men would spend years of their lives copying and illustrating part of the bible"?.
Every art history class(I believe I have 5 on my transcripts) I have taken that included the Dark Ages, Renascence, and the Age of Enlightenment included bible themes. Most art of those periods were sponsored by the church or at least sanctioned by the church. How many sculptures or pictures of David,The Virgin Mary, Angels or martyrs are you familiar with? Imagine Michelangelo without biblical imagery.
You should read the Christian bible to be educated. If you avoid doing so you can not understand a lot of imagery in art and literature. The foundational history of the United States of America, and the basis of our the legal system is based on the 10 commandments. The ideology behind the middle eastern conflict is made clear if you know biblical history.
You should read the bible to avoid conversations on trains if you want peace and quiet, because it is offensive to so many people, they would rather sit someplace else.
Is it odd that people now find the bible offensive? Fifty years ago most people called it the Good Book. Now it is forbidden from schools and it shows. Students don't have the education to understand literature and no longer enjoy reading the classics or much of anything else.
Whether you agree with Christianity or not the bible certainly can help you understand the world.
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