Biblical Archaeology Review 39:5, September/October 2013

Biblical Views: Reaching Across the Great Divide

By Marc Zvi Brettler

The letters to the editor make clear that many of BAR’s subscribers have a religious connection to the Bible and are curious about how scholarly, historical perspectives may relate to their religious readings and may even enhance their religious beliefs. Religious communities and leaders do not address adequately these issues in a fair and representative, nonpolemical fashion. Within Judaism, for example, the study of rabbinic rather than Biblical literature has become paramount, and many fear the scholarly world and its findings. At the same time, academic scholars are trained to ignore the religious sensitivities and commitments of their students, who, like many BAR readers, are not interested in the Bible as a “pure” academic text but rather feel that the Bible is, or might be, an important part of their life. Yet many instructors teach the Bible as a dry, arcane, ancient Near Eastern text that has little to offer to contemporary life. Shakespeare may be taught for what he teaches us about being human, but it is taboo to teach the Bible in the same way.

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