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Finding Meaning in the Bible: More Responses to my Christmas Article

In the previous post I indicated some of the initial reactions, four years ago, to my Newsweek article on the Gospel stories about Christmas.  I received yet more reaction after that old post, and so posted again, dealing this time with people who thought I was too kindly disposed to anyone who found the stories meaningful.  Here is what I said at the time.  (I still stick by it, for what it's worth!)   ********************************************************************** When the editor at Newsweek ask me if I would be willing to write an article on the birth of Jesus, I was hesitant and wrote him back asking if he was sure he really wanted me to do it.  I told him that I seem to be incapable of writing anything that doesn’t stir up controversy.  It must be in my blood.  Still, he said that they knew about my work and were not afraid of controversy, and they did indeed want an article from me. What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been getting it from all sides.  [...]

2020-04-03T02:47:39-04:00December 5th, 2016|Bart's Critics, Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Lowdown on Why I Study the Bible

In my previous post I began responding to the question of why I would study a book that I don’t “believe in.” In that response I gave more or less the “official” line as found in my just-now published introductory textbook on the Bible. Here I’ll say something a bit more casual and personal about it. I get asked the question a lot, sometimes by agnostics/atheists who have no time for religion and don’t understand why I would waste my time with it, and more often by hard-core believers who think the Bible is *their* book and don’t appreciate me encroaching on their turf. I understand both objections and am somewhat sympathetic with them, although at the end of the day I have deep and heart-felt objections to them. First, my agnostic/atheist friends. I think it is very strange indeed to think that one should not become intimately familiar with what one opposes. If I’m a capitalist who thinks socialism or communism is heinous, I really should know a lot about them before attacking them. [...]

Why Would Someone Like Me Study the Bible??

QUESTION: Why would someone devote so much time researching a book they don't even believe in? RESPONSE: The person who asked me this question did not explicitly indicate that s/he was asking it about *me* (i.e., WHAT in the WORLD are you THINKING??? Why would you bother writing all those books about the Bible if you DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN IT???). So I’m not going to take it personally. :-) But as it turns out, I do get asked the question a lot. In another post, soon to be delivered, I’ll answer the question (on the assumption it was asked about me). For now, I’d like to take the opportunity that it presents to reproduce here the very beginning (from chapter one, word one!) of my Bible textbook that was published, as I may have noted, yesterday. Again, this book is for 19-20 year old college students. A lot of them want to know why *they* should study the Bible. Here is the first part of my book where I raise and respond to that [...]

2020-04-03T18:11:33-04:00September 17th, 2013|Reader’s Questions, Reflections and Ruminations|

Introduction to the Bible: Part 1

Here is part of the opening statement in the first chapter of my Introduction to the Bible.  (It is only in rough draft -- but it gives you an idea of what I have in mind at the outset, trying to convince readers that it is indeed worthwhile to study the Bible, whether one believes it or not.  Some of you may find these statistics a bit, well, unsettling.  :-) ) ************************************************************************************************************************ Arguably the most important reason for studying the Bible – especially from a historical point of view --  is because of its importance for the history of Western Civilization.   The dominant religion of Europe and the New World for the past 2000 years has been Christianity; and Christianity, as we will see, grew out of, and alongside of, Judaism.  Both religions continue to assert an enormous influence on our form of culture.  This is true not only on the individual level, as people are guided in their thoughts, beliefs, and actions by what they learn in these religions.  It is true on [...]

2020-04-03T19:35:09-04:00July 6th, 2012|Book Discussions, Teaching Christianity|
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