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What professors say

Professors and scholars from various disciplines do not just read the Bible, they recommend us to read and use it in schools if you are English teachers.

 What the professors say?

“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… This is true for teaching Chaucer, but it’s also true for teaching Toni Morrison as much. And obviously a knowledge of the Bible is indispensable.”

Prof. Barbara Newman, Northwestern University

“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. For students not to have that is almost crippling in their ability to be sophisticated readers.”

Prof. Ulrich Knoefplmacher, Princeton University

“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

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

Prof. Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame

“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. When people meet William Blake without a background in the Bible, he seems eccentric, merely visionary author, quite obscure… If you have a Biblical background, you can begin to see how his thinking and how his imagination is grounded in some of this entrance of literature and it gives you a much more solid framework for understanding where he comes from culturally, and not just reading him as idiosyncratic.”

Prof. Steven Goldsmith, University of California at Berkeley

“a familiar understanding of Christian doctrine in historical perspective thus contributes to a fuller appreciation of Shakespeare’s art, but Shakespeare’s art is not devoted to theologizing the theatre.”

Prof. Roland M. Frye, the late Schelling Professor Emeritus of English Literature, University of Pennsylvania


* These quotes are taken from 2006 Bible Literacy Project released on June 1, 2006. The report surveyed 39 English professors at 34 top U.S. colleges and universities. More details are available on their website. 

** Quoted from Frye, Roland Mushat. Shakespeare and Christian Doctrine. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963.

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