California school district adopts Bible course

Beginning this fall, high school seniors of the Chino Valley School District will have the chance to enroll in a new course called “Bible as/in Literature and History.”
[The class] will offer a survey of the Bible, beginning with the historical context of the Old Testament, and then will focus on the New Testament later in the semester. It will also provide students with a historical knowledge of the Middle East.

onenewsnow.com/Education/Default.aspx?id=1075884

Interesting. I see great value in this, but it does need to be done right. I took a similar course in a California Junior College (in the 80s), but it was taught by a Gnostic who had us read the Gnostic texts. If it is truly done from a historical and literary standpoint, I’m all for it!

I'm a little bit weary of Bible in school. Not because I'm for secularism in society or tolerance of error. Quite the opposite. The teachers can do all kinds of things, especially in these "Bible as literature" classes. A few things to consider:

1) What Bible are they going to use? If it's a protestant Bible then it has different commandment numberings, certain different translations, and missing a few books of Scripture. If it's the Catholic Bible then it seems like we're making a huge exception for the minority which is Catholic.

2) What are the beliefs of the instructor? Are they protestant? Then they teach heresy. Are they liberal/modernist? Then they teach even worse heresy. Are they Catholic or Orthodox? Then they're teaching what is likely to be a majority of children with protestant/irreligious upbringing.

3) What are the beliefs of the kids? Are the majority of them Catholic? Are the majority of them protestant? Were the majority of them not brought up religious? If so, then certain interpretations of certain texts will be debated, and harsh feelings will define the class experience.

I suppose it's possible for this to be done. But it's very hard to not offend anybody, in terms of sectarian lines. You have to have great instructors, a perfect plan of lessons, and willing kids and parents.

These are some of the reasons why I appreciate separation of Church and state in this country. Not because I believe that we should tolerate error. But because it gave Catholics a freedom to practice the truth which a lot of other countries did not. If we were in an officially Catholic state, with a vast majority of Catholics, this would be a whole different story. BTW, I live about half an hour away from there.

[quote="awatkins69, post:3, topic:204483"]
I'm a little bit weary of Bible in school. Not because I'm for secularism in society or tolerance of error. Quite the opposite. The teachers can do all kinds of things, especially in these "Bible as literature" classes. A few things to consider:

1) What Bible are they going to use? If it's a protestant Bible then it has different commandment numberings, certain different translations, and missing a few books of Scripture. If it's the Catholic Bible then it seems like we're making a huge exception for the minority which is Catholic.

2) What are the beliefs of the instructor? Are they protestant? Then they teach heresy. Are they liberal/modernist? Then they teach even worse heresy. Are they Catholic or Orthodox? Then they're teaching what is likely to be a majority of children with protestant/irreligious upbringing.

3) What are the beliefs of the kids? Are the majority of them Catholic? Are the majority of them protestant? Were the majority of them not brought up religious? If so, then certain interpretations of certain texts will be debated, and harsh feelings will define the class experience.

I suppose it's possible for this to be done. But it's very hard to not offend anybody, in terms of sectarian lines. You have to have great instructors, a perfect plan of lessons, and willing kids and parents.

These are some of the reasons why I appreciate separation of Church and state in this country. Not because I believe that we should tolerate error. But because it gave Catholics a freedom to practice the truth which a lot of other countries did not. If we were in an officially Catholic state, with a vast majority of Catholics, this would be a whole different story. BTW, I live about half an hour away from there.

[/quote]

I agree it is difficult. I still think it is worthwhile, but it is extremely important that the teachers teach it in a detached, historical/literal point-of-view without interjecting their beliefs. That is really, really difficult - especially when you start to look at, for example, Peter's role in the early church.

[quote="rlg94086, post:4, topic:204483"]
I agree it is difficult. I still think it is worthwhile, but it is extremely important that the teachers teach it in a detached, historical/literal point-of-view without interjecting their beliefs. That is really, really difficult - especially when you start to look at, for example, Peter's role in the early church.

[/quote]

I wouldn't be so concerned about the teachers as I would be about the students. I took a college course which examined the Bible from a literary and historical perspective and the Evangelical students among us attempted to hijack the class and turn it into a religious debate and avenue for proselytizing on an almost daily basis. I question whether or not most highschool students are academically mature enough to examine the Bible from a religiously neutral perspective. If anything, it should be offered only as an AP course.

[quote="EmperorNapoleon, post:5, topic:204483"]
I wouldn't be so concerned about the teachers as I would be about the students. I took a college course which examined the Bible from a literary and historical perspective and the Evangelical students among us attempted to hijack the class and turn it into a religious debate and avenue for proselytizing on an almost daily basis. I question whether or not most highschool students are academically mature enough to examine the Bible from a religiously neutral perspective. If anything, it should be offered only as an AP course.

[/quote]

If the students are "hijacking the class," then the instructor is poor. All they need to do is remind the students that it is a non-theological class looking only at the historical and literary aspects.

[quote="awatkins69, post:3, topic:204483"]
I suppose it's possible for this to be done. But it's very hard to not offend anybody, in terms of sectarian lines. You have to have great instructors, a perfect plan of lessons, and willing kids and parents.

These are some of the reasons why I appreciate separation of Church and state in this country. Not because I believe that we should tolerate error. But because it gave Catholics a freedom to practice the truth which a lot of other countries did not. If we were in an officially Catholic state, with a vast majority of Catholics, this would be a whole different story. BTW, I live about half an hour away from there.

[/quote]

I think one needs to start by asking to ask people to park their beliefs about the Bible at the door, but making clear that the course is not intended to denigrate those beliefs.
Aside from being the Word of God it is a collection of great literature which has had a great impact on our history -- a fact that gets left out because educators are too afraid to mention anything connected to religion.

E. g., even though Lincoln was a freethinker for most of his life he "spoke KJV" (see esp. his 2nd inaugural). His speeches are loaded with Biblical allusions, not because he was a believer but because he knew his listeners would understand them. The same was true of his contemporaries.

IMO, it's a bad idea. Such a class could not meet the criteria for interpreting Scripture.

As the Church teaches, since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter.

[quote="CathFaith1, post:8, topic:204483"]
IMO, it's a bad idea. Such a class could not meet the criteria for interpreting Scripture.

[/quote]

It's not intended as a class to interpret Scripture. It is to examine Scripture as literature and for its historic content, studying it like any other historic document and no more.

[quote="Rich_Olszewski, post:9, topic:204483"]
It's not intended as a class to interpret Scripture. It is to examine Scripture as literature and for its historic content, studying it like any other historic document and no more.

[/quote]

I see that. Thus, as I noted it's pointless.

Not at all. It is beautiful literature, and it, even from a secular point of view, can be examined for its impact on history and mankind.

This class has no place in public school. So - how are they going to answer the following questions, since they are looking at this as "just a book":

1.) Who wrote the Bible?
2.) Why are some Bibles different?
3.) How was it decided what books were to be included or not?
4.) Is it true that people were forbidden to read the Bible?

NONE of these questions (and surely others) can be answered in multiple different ways without bringing religion into the discussion.

The fact remains - and I don't care what someone believes or does not believe - the Bible IS divinely inspired scripture, and to reduce it to "just a book" and leaving out any religious context is doing a total disservice to the students. It just can't be done.

The very fact that the Bible has the historical impact that it does is BECAUSE it is a religious text. Wars would not be fought, people would not have given their lives as martyrs, or religious - if it was simply a book with pretty words and stories. You can't talk about one and not talk about the other.

Keep the Bible lessons in the home and in private school. That way parents can control what their children are being taught and (hopefully) ensure they are not learning heresy just because someone decided to be progressive and have a class about that book called the Bible. :rolleyes: Sorry - I would not let my own child attend a class like this, not in a public school.

~Liza

Good points Liza.


The Chino Valley Board of Education must make sure that the course will adhere to the state education code and to California state laws, so it will remain neutral in its religious teachings and will portray the Bible as a monumental piece of literature..

In totality, Sacred Scripture is about a person (a God who became man). And this class wants to remain neutral to it. Worthless pursuit.

"All sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, "because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ" CCC 134

I don't understand why this is even considered news. They taught courses like this back in the stone age when I was in high school. They used the Bible as a book just like any literature book. One class would study Shakespeare's plays, another would focus on American literature, and another would study the Bible. Just as an educated person should have some familiarity with Shakespeare, so should an educated person have some familiarity with the Bible.

I went to a Catholic high school so this type of class wasn't offered -- we studied the Bible in a religious sense, not a literary one -- but my friends in public high schools took them.

[quote="lizaanne, post:12, topic:204483"]
This class has no place in public school. So - how are they going to answer the following questions, since they are looking at this as "just a book":

1.) Who wrote the Bible?
2.) Why are some Bibles different?
3.) How was it decided what books were to be included or not?
4.) Is it true that people were forbidden to read the Bible?

NONE of these questions (and surely others) can be answered in multiple different ways without bringing religion into the discussion.

The fact remains - and I don't care what someone believes or does not believe - the Bible IS divinely inspired scripture, and to reduce it to "just a book" and leaving out any religious context is doing a total disservice to the students. It just can't be done.

The very fact that the Bible has the historical impact that it does is BECAUSE it is a religious text. Wars would not be fought, people would not have given their lives as martyrs, or religious - if it was simply a book with pretty words and stories. You can't talk about one and not talk about the other.

Keep the Bible lessons in the home and in private school. That way parents can control what their children are being taught and (hopefully) ensure they are not learning heresy just because someone decided to be progressive and have a class about that book called the Bible. :rolleyes: Sorry - I would not let my own child attend a class like this, not in a public school.

~Liza

[/quote]

Feeling as strongly as you do about it, that would certainly be your option. The course is optional.

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:14, topic:204483"]
I went to a Catholic high school so this type of class wasn't offered -- we studied the Bible in a religious sense, not a literary one

[/quote]

I was educated by Jesuits - so I studied the Bible both ways. :)

When I was in public high school, given the time and place, mainstream protestantism was practically the school religion. Teachers felt free to read from the King James (exclusively) and we were preached at by preachers in assemblies.

It didn't bother me at the time. I knew who I was and what I was, and in some ways it aided in self-definition. At least one got a consistent message, and it was, broadly speaking, part of "Americana".

However, given that the status of mainline protestantism as virtual "state religion" is gone, and every yahoo on earth now feels able to put his "spin" on it, and every religion and irreligion seems to feel entitled to equal rights to proselytize, I don't favor teaching anything about religion in public schools, except to the extent it's absolutely necessary for historical reference, and then in a totally "flat" manner, without expression of judgments.

[quote="lizaanne, post:12, topic:204483"]
This class has no place in public school. So - how are they going to answer the following questions, since they are looking at this as "just a book":

1.) Who wrote the Bible?
2.) Why are some Bibles different?
3.) How was it decided what books were to be included or not?
4.) Is it true that people were forbidden to read the Bible?

NONE of these questions (and surely others) can be answered in multiple different ways without bringing religion into the discussion.

The fact remains - and I don't care what someone believes or does not believe - the Bible IS divinely inspired scripture, and to reduce it to "just a book" and leaving out any religious context is doing a total disservice to the students. It just can't be done.

The very fact that the Bible has the historical impact that it does is BECAUSE it is a religious text. Wars would not be fought, people would not have given their lives as martyrs, or religious - if it was simply a book with pretty words and stories. You can't talk about one and not talk about the other.

Keep the Bible lessons in the home and in private school. That way parents can control what their children are being taught and (hopefully) ensure they are not learning heresy just because someone decided to be progressive and have a class about that book called the Bible. :rolleyes: Sorry - I would not let my own child attend a class like this, not in a public school.

~Liza

[/quote]

I disagree entirely. The 4 questions you pose could all be answered factually, without "bringing religion into the discussion." They are historical in nature.

1.) Who wrote the Bible?

People did. In some cases, historians are clear about the author (e.g. Paul). In others, the teacher would convey what historians know, as well as what traditions teach.

2.) Why are some Bibles different?

Again, simple history. We know why some Bibles are different. There is not controversy about the reason they are different.

3.) How was it decided what books were to be included or not?

Ditto.

4.) Is it true that people were forbidden to read the Bible?

Historical facts would be reviewed. Are you saying that there are multiple historical truths?

I have no problem with having my kids learn the historical and literal understanding of the Bible. I agree that there are incredible challenges in finding teachers who will teach it objectively, but if done right, it is of great benefit to society.

I support courses that teach the Bible as literature and a historical text, just as I would support courses that teach other world religion holy texts as literature and historical texts.

While there is potential for abuse on the part of both students and teachers, and such classes need to be properly monitored, I think there's also a lot of value to be had from them, and I think they're a good idea.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:19, topic:204483"]
I support courses that teach the Bible as literature and a historical text, just as I would support courses that teach other world religion holy texts as literature and historical texts.

While there is potential for abuse on the part of both students and teachers, and such classes need to be properly monitored, I think there's also a lot of value to be had from them, and I think they're a good idea.

[/quote]

Agreed. I think it is helpful to have students who are educated about world religions and cultures. To understand world history, it's really helpful to understand the role religion played in it.

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