Teaching About the Bible & Other Sacred Texts
This module examines how academics across disciplines study the Bible as a text that affects politics, history, literature, etc. It also differentiates this scholarly approach to studying the Bible (referred to as textual studies) from a devotional approach. Many of the methods and tools described here can also be used to analyze other sacred texts.
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- Religious Literacy
Benjamin P. Marcus is a fellow and former Religious Literacy Specialist with the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, where he examines the intersection of education, religious literacy and identity formation in the United States. He has developed religious literacy programs for public schools, universities, U.S. government organizations, and private foundations in the U.S. and abroad.
Andrew Henry is scholar of religious studies. His research focuses on the religions of the late ancient Mediterranean world, particularly on the material culture of early Christianity. Andrew also has interests in the intersection of social media technology and religious studies pedagogy and is the founder of the educational YouTube channel Religion for Breakfast.
- Differentiate between a devotional approach to teaching religion and sacred texts and a non-sectarian, academic study of religion and sacred texts through social and historical lenses
- Teaching about the Bible in Public School: Legal or Not? by Andrew Henry from Religion for Breakfast
- Bible Electives in Public Schools: A Guide. The Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.
- Recommended: The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide. The Bible Literacy Project and the First Amendment Center, 1999.
- Recommended: Explore Bible Odyssey, a website launched in 2014 by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). An interdisciplinary, humanistic, academic society, the group is comprised of scholars specializing in history, literature, archaeology, anthropology, theology, and more. Likewise, the SBL is the largest international association of scholars who teach and research the numerous fields that form biblical studies. Make sure to check-out:
- Explore this timeline of key ideas in Biblical Scholarship:
- Which approaches are you familiar with?
- Which approaches would be appropriate to include in the curriculum in a public school classroom?
- Briefly describe how a devotional approach to teaching religion differs from the non-sectarian, academic study of religion. What challenges might an academic approach to studying the Bible raise in a classroom setting?
- What are some arguments for including the academic study of the Bible or other sacred texts in the curriculum?
- How would you respond to parents’ concerns or misconceptions about teaching about the Bible?