Monday, November 7, 2011

Is the Bible for Children?

Today, the unreasonable faith blog asks "Should Children Read the Bible?"

This reminded me of something I heard in the Yale online course Introduction to the Old Testament, Lecture 1, “The Parts of the Whole,” by Professor Christine Hayes. I think she puts it rather well:

The Bible’s not for children. I have a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old. I won’t let them read it. I won’t let them read it. Those “Bible Stories for Children” books, they scare me. They really scare me. It’s not suitable for children.

The subject matter in the Bible is very adult, particularly in the narrative texts. There are episodes of treachery and incest and murder and rape. And the Bible is not for na├»ve optimists. It’s hard-hitting stuff. And it speaks to those who are courageous enough to acknowledge that life is rife with pain and conflict, just as it’s filled with compassion and joy.

It’s not for children in another sense. Like any literary masterpiece, the Bible is characterized by a sophistication of structure and style and an artistry of theme and metaphor, and believe me, that’s lost on adult readers quite often. It makes its readers work. The Bible doesn’t moralize, or rarely, rarely moralizes. It explores moral issues and situations, puts people in moral issues and situations. The conclusions have to be drawn by the reader.

Excellent.

Child reading the Bible
Why did we skip verse 12, Daddy?