Watchman on the Wall: Bible, key to education

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Loraine Joy | Community Columnist

“You are not truly educated until you have read the Bible.” I was decidedly shocked to hear my Chico State Spanish Poetry teacher vehemently respond to a student who had asked, “Who’s Nimrod?”  It had become my personal habit to read Psalms and Proverbs, the books of Praise and Worship. They had shaped my own attitudes in seeing God’s hand “in the affairs of men.”  Proverbs gave me common sense, practical applications in regard to farming, relationships, gossip, raising children, etc. I knew Nimrod was a great hunter and used as a reference to the proverbial, “a great hunter as Nimrod.” However, my teacher saw this young man as uneducated because he did not know the reference.

This got me to thinking where else had the Bible been influential. EVERYWHERE! Biblical references abound in Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Dostoevksy, CS Lewis, Tolkein, John Bunyan, in everyday newspapers and magazines.

The Bible and the New England Primer were the textbooks for Colonial children. It taught the alphabet with “A is for Adam,” “B is for Bible,” etc. “The 1647 Old Deluder Satan Act—in order to ensure that ‘learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers’—required every township of 50 households to hire a teacher.” (“New England Primer” by Samuel James Smith) Learning to read was required for all children, servants and apprentices. Colonial adults learned to read, as they wanted to read the Bible. Colonial families gathered around the fireplace and father or mother would read the Bible (they didn’t have TV).

The 1828 original Webster Dictionary used Biblical references from the King James Bible in over a thousand words.

“SERVE, verb transitive serv. [Latin servio. This verb is supposed to be from the noun servus, a servant or slave, and this from servo, to keep.]

1. To work for; to bestow the labor of body and mind in the employment of another.

Jacob loved Rachel and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy youngest daughter. Genesis 29:15.

No man can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24.”

1895 8th Grade Final Exam could not be passed by most 2019 High School graduates.  It included Grammar, US History, Orthography, and Geography. (https://newrepublic.com/article/79470/1895-8th-grade-final-exam-i-couldnt-pass-it-could-you)

Dr. Daniel L. Marsh, President of Boston University, in speaking to students of this great university:

“A full orbed education, whatever else it requires, demands that you have an acquaintanceship with one certain book. There are a few books – relatively very few – that must be read by everybody who aims to be educated in any sense of the term, or even moderately well informed. One of these bears such a vital relationship to our culture, our mores, that a knowledge of it is absolutely indispensable to anyone who desires to feel intellectually at home in the American scene. That book is the Bible. [emphasis added]”.

— Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at musicandmore@mac.com.

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