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The Bible has been the most influential text in all of Western culture. It's difficult to understand medieval or early modern or much of modern literature without knowing it...

Prof. Barbara Newman, Northwestern University
from 2006 Bible Literary project


It's not that it's impossible to read some writers without a Biblical background, but that you would miss a whole dimension to their work.

Prof. Steven Goldsmith, University of California at Berkeley
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


I can only say that if a student doesn't know any Bible literature, he or she will simply not understand whole elements of Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth

Prof. Robert Kiely, Harvard University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...there is truth in the remark. "without Tyndale[Bible translator], no Shakespeare"...

Prof. David Daniell, University College London
from The Bible in English


You can't really study Western literature intelligently or coherently without starting with the Bible.

Prof. Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...a familiar understanding of Christian doctrine in historical perspective thus contributes to a fuller appreciation of Shakespeare's art, but Shakespeare's art

Prof. Roland M. Frye
from Shakespeare and the Christian Doctrine


In English tradition and also for an American tradition begun by Puritan writers, a knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is even more crucial than classical references.

Prof. Ulrich Knoefplmacher, Princeton University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


There is no book more important for our culture than the Bible, and it is fundametal to the study of English literature and language.

Prof. David Jasper and Prof. Stephen Prickett
from the Bible and literature

Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8)

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Picture copyright: V.

bible verse


A person who takes the blame for the crime of others.

origin and application

In the Old Testament times, not everyone could enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle, only the chosen priests. If the prophet is to enter this area, he has to offer two goats, one to be used as a sin offering, the other as the scape goat (i.e. an old word for escape), which escapes from death but is presented alive before God. The prophet is to lay both hands on the head of the scapegoat and confess all the sins of the Israelites and put the sins on the goat’s head. He then must send the goat away into the desert, which will carry on itself all their sins. The scapegoat presented in the Old Testament foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus, who will atone for all men’s sins.
Scapegoat in today’s sense takes on another meaning, rather than being able to escape from the scene, it refers to a person who takes the blame for the crime of others. It is usually when a senior person sacrifices a junior to take the blame for his own errors.


A prime minister made a scape goat of the minister for health.


blame    sacrifice    scapegoat   

Related Information

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