The Bible for Today
While the Bible has for millennia been a source of comfort and religious inspiration we tend to ignore how biblical application adds to our enlightenment in other ways. For many centuries scholars have used its pages as historical background and comparison with other texts. University professors insist upon its inclusion in various areas of study and it is often a required text. In my own limited study I have gained not just comfort and guidance, but have also studied it in classical history courses where professors of note have referred to its pages. A degree in English Literature cannot be obtained without understanding how it is used in the great works by authors such as Milton, Shakespeare, Yeats, and countless more. The issue of gender is yet another fascinating subject in which the Bible can illuminate and correct some of our precious misconceptions. Value and information of almost any kind is available within its tomes.
Whatever your religious proclivity, inspirational value can be garnered from biblical sources. The poetry of the psalms in the Old Testament offer beauty of language and comfort in the belief of something bigger than ourselves as told by ancient writers who were very human and illustrate this through their spiritual awareness and growth. Proverbs tender simple advice for everyday questions in a straight forward and logical manner. The New Testament offers a fresh way of looking at hope. Regular reading of the text as a spiritual guide can only strengthen one’s realisation that such a habit offers much more than the time it takes to read a few verses. Concentration upon its pages can ground us in tradition and ceremony in a world which overcompensates our lack of roots by bombarding our senses with too much too fast. There is always a new nugget of truth to be found with regular perusal.
Scholars continue to investigate the Bible with an eye to its historical significance in the ancient world. As more archaeological material comes to light, biblical evidence becomes more apparent, and the value of the texts increase. Every university and most Classics professors use the Bible as an augment to their teaching material. Each campus bookstore has at least one or two translations on their shelves which are required course readings. As a university student studying majors in Classics and English Literature, four of my five years found me toting the Bible from class to class, and the one year when it wasn’t required found me referencing it often.
A great deal of this referencing was imperative in English Literature where almost every author studied through the various periods referred to the Bible in some fashion. From Beowulf’s mention of Cain through to the many biblical metaphors used by Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath a basic understanding of the ancient text was tantamount to comprehending the deeper meaning the author was trying to achieve. I was often thankful for the many Sunday School classes my family insisted I attend because it gave me a basic grounding in biblical stories. During my university study I met many individuals who didn’t have this understanding and consequently had a much harder time in studying all the themes behind a particular poem or piece of prose. The Bible’s application in literature is not limited to the classics; many of our modern day writers continue to rely on its pages for material. One only needs to search Amazon.com to find a plethora of titles dependent on the Bible for a story.
- Bible - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Bible history timeline
A history of the land and people of Israel during Biblical times
- BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.
Women in the Bible
The Bible’s diverse texts allow study of almost any subject, but one I found truly surprising was the issue of gender. Perhaps one of my many sticking points when reading the text was its patriarchal leaning. The male of the species always seems to be in the advantage, but if one has a truly enlightened teacher that assumption can be challenged. Women had major parts to play all the way through both the Old and the New Testaments. A close examination of the Adam and Eve story renders Adam as a passive participant and Eve as not one easily beguiled, but “a conscious actor choosing knowledge” (Niditch 17). Prior to the establishment of the monarchy, characters like Deborah, labelled a prophet, wielded great influence and was often consulted by the males of her time. Another woman during the monarchy period named Huldah was cited as a prophet in 2 Kings 22:14. In Proverbs, Wisdom is consistently personified as female. In the New Testament women are referred to as disciples and play prominent roles during Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact Christ appears to the women first. Close scrutiny of the many texts offer incredible insights into women and their authority in an ancient culture.
Continuing study and application of the Bible adds to the idea that it is a living text where ideas, whether faith-based or secular, can be discussed and examined. It continues to provoke questioning and debate which is proof of its value. Instead of being delegated to the far corner of the family library it should hold a place of prominence where it can be consulted. In today’s uncertain time the Bible, enduring as it is, is one of the few texts in which we can derive comfort. Who could not be soothed and encouraged by the words “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11).
1) Good News Bible With Deuterocanonicals / Apocrypha. Toronto: Canadian Bible Society, 1994.
2) Niditch, Susan. “Genesis.” Women’s Bible Commentary. Ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe. Westminster John Know Press: Lousiville Kentucky, 1998. 13-29.
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