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Monday, 14 December 2015 01:53

Bible references in Everyday Life

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Several years ago I had the pleasure and honor of teaching a class called "Bible as Literature" at the local public high school where I was on staff. It was a great experience for me, and I believe for my students as well.

"Bible in a public school?" you might wonder?

 
Great question! Based on most current interpretations of the US Constitution's First Amendment, public schools cannot teach the Bible as a devotional material. (For most of the first 180 years or so of the US's existence, that was not the case, because public schools did teach Bible lessons as devotions and life lessons, but that is a topic for another blog post.) Due to cultural and political trends from the 1960's in particular, the Bible was removed from most curricula. Gun shy of lawsuits or controversy, many teachers scrupulously avoided referring to the Bible in their classes. The result has been an alarming surge of biblical illiteracy in the US, because "ideas have consequences." If teachers do not teach something, no one should be surprised if students do not know it. Into that void has stepped the Bible Literacy Project, with its fantastic textbook, The Bible and its Influence. This book is the nation's only "First-Amendment-safe textbook that supports academic study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation." As a teacher I found working from that book to be user-friendly. It examines the Bible from both literary, historical, and cultural viewpoints. The artwork is wonderful. I had very diverse students from a diverse range of ethnic, socio-economic, educational, and religious backgrounds, grades 9-12, and their feedback to the class and textbook was overwhelmingly positive.

From the Bible Literacy Project I learned that a survey was conducted of English Department chairmen at top universities across the US. The question was: "If there is one book your incoming freshmen students should be very familiar with, in order to help them be successful in English classes at your university, what would that book be?" The overwhelming answer was: The Bible. Please note: I am not referring to English departments at Christian universities, but rather to secular state and private colleges. A major reason given about why it is important for students to know the Bible? Because the Bible is a rich source of many analogies, allegories, and imagery used in the English language, including modern-day English.

 
I was inspired to write this post because of an email I received today. The topic is "marketing for small businesses"--hardly a religious subject--but the title starts with: "David vs. Goliath." That is an ancient story from the Jewish Bible (aka Old Testament) about a little boy who killed a giant. This email even continues the analogy by speaking of David killing the giant with a "slingshot," and compares this to small companies using quick, nimble, targeted actions to get big results.

Furthermore, the email even adds a New Testament Bible reference: "go the extra mile." This saying, a quotation from Jesus recorded in Mark 5:41, means to do extra, to go above and beyond what is expected. The email refers to it as a small business being able to provide outstanding, personalized service that a bigger company cannot do.

The English language is rich with biblical references. A few examples are: as old as the hills, white as snow, bite the dust, a house divided against itself cannot stand (many believe that is a Lincoln quotation, but actually Lincoln was just quoting Jesus in the Bible), Good Samaritan, the blind leading the blind, etc.

For a more thorough list, check this site.

This video tells a bit more about the King James Bible (1611) and many English phrases we get from it today.

Do you need help improving your knowledge of English and vocabulary? Contact me today to find out how we can help you!

Read 320 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 July 2017 14:26
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer

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