Bible thumping

Intended Unabomber victim David Gelernter has a sprawling cover story (here and here) in the current issue of The Weekly Standard on the knowledge of the Good Book in the United States. The (ugh, bad pun warning) good news, says Gelernter, is that "If you ask questions that are so simple the average arthropod would find them patronizing, and cast them in multiple choice format to make things even easier . . . American high school students do okay."

Otherwise, not so much. Gelernter writes of a study by the Bible Literacy Project:

Go beyond rudimentary and you find that "very few American students" have the level of Bible knowledge that high-school English teachers regard as "basic to a good education." "Almost two-thirds of teens" couldn't pick the right answer out of four choices when they were asked to identify "a quotation from the Sermon on the Mount" ("Blessed are the poor in spirit"). Two-thirds didn't know that "the Road to Damascus is where St. Paul was blinded by a vision of Christ." Fewer than a third "could correctly identify which statement about David was not true (David tried to kill King Saul)." And so on.

Most of this would not be a surprise to GetReligion readers. But I think Gelernter's case for Why You Should Care is worth a read. He begins,

Scripture begins with God creating the world, but there is something these verses don't tell you: The Bible has itself created worlds. Wherever you stand on the spectrum from devout to atheist, you must acknowledge that the Bible has been a creative force without parallel in history.

The piece is a sizeable collection of fun historical material, some spot on, some of debatable merit (the higher criticism bits are both too sweeping and not sweeping enough for my taste), so I won't attempt a summary, but I invite readers who decide to give it a go to share your impressions in comments.

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