W.Va. proposal for Bible requirement brings mixed reaction

By WSAZ News

A bill before West Virginia lawmakers would require the Bible in school.

If passed, Senate Bill 252 would make it an elective for students, but not for school districts, even the public ones.

It’s no surprise, it’s getting some strong opinions on both sides at Pullman Square.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Joseph Hardwick.

“I think it’s arrogant and silly,” said Patrick Stephens.

But according to current wording, the bill would require it in all schools — public, private and parochial.

The stated purpose is to teach students the history, literary style and its influence on society like law, art and government, focusing on either the Old Testament, the New Testament or the entire Bible.

Those like Hardwick like the proposal.

“I think it would help people grow and open their mind.”

“It gives an opportunity for the kids to learn about the Bible,” added Cadyn Turley.

But Stephens said the Bible doesn’t have a place in school and blurs the line between church and state.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. As I’ve said before: knowledge of the Bible is essential for the understanding of literature, “law, art and government.” Its cultural echos are probably the most important single component of Western civilisation, but there are many more of almost equal importance, Greek and Roman history and philosophy, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation….

    The Bible should be taught as a component of courses in the history of ideas, but when bible belt governments introduce laws to make biblical studies a discrete part of the curriculum, whatever their liberal cultural justification, it is obvious that it is going to end up as proselytisation.

  2. eejit #1
    Jan 17, 2018 at 5:49 am

    The Bible should be taught as a component of courses in the history of ideas, but when bible belt governments introduce laws to make biblical studies a discrete part of the curriculum, whatever their liberal cultural justification, it is obvious that it is going to end up as proselytisation.

    That is the key issue!
    I could teach about the bible in a historical context and in comparative religion classes, but if the curriculum is drawn up by bible-besotted fundamentalist administrators, or taught by bible-besotted know nothing teachers/preachers, all the relevant materials about other religions, and a balanced view of history, are likely to suppressed or omitted!

  3. Studying the bible is important if the teacher knows what he is talking about : religious swindle, commercial fraud.
    Let me illustrate the concept with some sound philological exegesis.
    A well known figure in gospel lore and extrabiblical christian lore is mary magdalene.
    Mainstream etymology has her getting her sobriquet magdalene from an alleged village on the lake of galilee aka tiberias, magdala. A village that has never been identified because it has never existed at all. Hebrew migdal means tower and has nothing to do with magdalene, because it does not account for the ending – ene.

  4. Again : an alleged village called magdala in jesus´times has never been identified with any degree of certainty.
    Clearly something else is being overwritten here, and the gospels sink into desperate/deliberate confusion about this alleged village of magdala : matthew 15:39´s manuscripts feature for instance, in part magdala, in part maghedan, and in part magadan !!! O wondrous harmony of the word of god !!! And mind you, the official clerical version of greek matthew, nestle/aland (novum testamentum graece et latine,deutsche bibelgesellschaft 5.druck 2005) chooses magadan not magdala !!! Thus completely throwing out 2000 years of linking mary magdalene to a village called magdala !!! By the way, a village called magadan has never been found either, and never will be identified with certainty because it never existed at all to begin with, just like its variea lectiones magdala or maghedan !!!
    We are facing deliberate overwriting here on the part of whoever concocted Matthew – disinformation tactics.
    What were they trying to overwrite and whom ?

  5. The parallel passage in mark 8:10 changes the place name altogether : although part of mark´s manuscripts here do insist on fancy names similar to matthew´s ( magheda, magdala,magada,melegada !!!) nestle/aland here for unknown reasons choose the varia lectio dalmanoutha !!!! (dalmounai in some manuscripts, just to exasperate us a bit more…). Again : o wondrous harmony of the word of god !!! And these are supposed to be 2 of the synoptic gospels, meaning you can follow their parallel narrative at a glance !!! Talk about similar or identical wording !!!
    It goes without saying, that a village called dalmanoutha has never been identified and never will, wanna bet ??

  6. ALETH #4
    Jan 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

    What were they trying to overwrite and whom ?

    I think it is well established the “Canonical Gospels” were cherry-picked from a wider range of Christian folk-law in the 4th. century, by Bishop Athanasius and the Romans, for the political purposes of Constantine’s empire!

    There have also been assorted forged additions to texts and various mistranslations since.

    The Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Judas (among others) did not make the Roman’s edited version!

    http://gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

  7. I wouldn’t get too hung up on that one, ALETH. Manuscripts were laboriously copied by hand, over and over and over again: mistakes inevitably crept in. And just because we don’t know of a village of that name, it doesn’t absolutely follow that there wasn’t one. Just that no evidence for one has been found. In this case, absence of evidence really doesn’t categorically mean evidence of absence. Can we really be sure we know the names and locations of every last hamlet in Palestine 2000 years ago? I doubt it.

    Besides, names are notoriously fluid, especially when you go back in history. Look at all the variant spellings of William Shakespeare, even in his own lifetime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelling_of_Shakespeare%27s_name. I only need to go back as far as one of my great-grandparents to see his name recorded with different spellings in different official documents.

    Discrepancies in different manuscripts can indeed be enlightening, but I’ve seen more powerful examples, examples that actually affect the alleged texts, not just inconsistencies in spelling (though, unhelpfully, I can’t remember them now; but others here will probably be able to fill in my gaps).

  8. The talmud mentions a couple of magdalas neither of which has ever been identified with any degree of certainty.
    Clearly the gospel forgers here in calling mary the magdalene are overwritng something and someone who would not have pleased pro-imperial ears.
    Who for godssake was mary magdalene, and did she exist at all ? Let us first up look up the data the canonical gospels offer about her. Our first close encounter with mary magdalene occurs at matthew 27:56 : jesus has just expired on the cross. and from afar, some women witness the scene – among them, our mary magdalene. She is in the company of other illustrious women such as one mary of james, one mother of joseph, and one mother of the sons of zebedee.
    Further on, at matthew 27:61, our mary magdalene is by jesus´tomb in the company of the other mary – mary of james we surmise. Here part of matthew´s manuscripts call mary magdalene by her jewish name, mariam, and part hellenize it into maria. Later, at dawn the following sunday, matthew 28:1 again features both marys, maria or mariam magdalene and the other mary, showing up again to inspect the tomb. And that is all matthew explicitly states about mary magdalene.
    Mark 15:40 picks up the witnesses-to-the-crucifixion narrative himself, featuring mary (maria or mariam) the magdalene, in the company of mary of james the lesser and of the mother of joset insteat of matthew´s joseph, and of a hitherto unknown salome. At mark 15:47 again, maria or mariam the magdalene with mary of joset (variae lectiones : james and joset ; jose ; joseph !!! ) watch jesus being buried.

  9. I shall reply to the posters above later, lest I lose my focus. Marco, we do have tons and tons of archeological and written evidence for many last hamlets in the palestine of alleged-jesus´ time – but oh coincidentally, nothing for magdala or its variae lectiones, just like we have nothing for nazareth in alleged-jesus´ time, though in the latter´s case, we do have evidence for an earlier and a later nazareth. Magdala is absent from the record. I agree this does not mathematically imply we won´t dig it up some day – but it certainly does not imply either that it did exist. Furthermore : you are mathematically wrong in attributing the variae lectiones for magdala to copyist mistakes – because while such an explanation might account for variations such as magdala/magadan, it cannot possibly account for the complete change from matthew´s magadan/magdala to mark´s dalmanoutha !!!

  10. And Marco, please don´t give us a bart ehrman as the supreme ayatollah for jesus´ historicity here – the guy´s notorious for his bias. If you have any stringent ehrman arguments as to the existence of magdala, you are welcome to offer them to us and spare us the hassle. If not, let that zombie rest in peace.

  11. ALETH #9
    Jan 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Clearly the gospel forgers here in calling mary the magdalene are overwritng something and someone who would not have pleased pro-imperial ears.

    Again – it is difficult to identify anyone with perhaps the exception of the Roman Saul / Paul

    None of the “gospels were written by contemporary witnesses and all of them were written decades or centuries after supposed events by sects of followers from passed down stories – using the names of their chosen “disciples”! There is minimal evidence even of the existence of Jesus!

  12. Honestly, ALETH, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill on the Mary Magdalene front. Meanwhile, there are real mountains everywhere you look! The discrepancies in the alleged events that you list in #9 are far more convincing than variations on a name, because they affect the actual substance of the stories.

    In the ancient world naming conventions seem to have been pretty haphazard, with what we now think of as the surname or family name more often just adding further info for identification purposes. And different sources might pick on different things as the identifier. Ordinary people didn’t have birth certificates or ID cards, after all.

    Even today, there’s no reason why “Susan from New York”, “Susan, daughter of Fred”, “Susan, mother of Judith”, “Sue from New York” , “Susanne the management consultant” and “Sue with the red hair” couldn’t all be the same person.

    Whatever – it’s just not the strongest argument in your box, IMO.

  13. At mark 16:1, our mary the magdalene goes shopping, again accompanied by mary of james and our new entry salome – they go buy ointments to embalm jesus´s body with.
    There follows an all-important passage further down at mark 16:9, a passage considered spurious by some ( as if the rest of the gospels were authentic !!! ) but vital to us : the resurrected jesus appears first to mary the magdalene herself !!! What an honor !!! Thereby mark also informs us that jesus had exorcised seven demons from her !!! She went and told those who had been with jesus, but these did not believe her. Exit mary magdalene from the gospel of mark.

  14. Marco you haven´t replied :
    1. lack of any evidence for magdala does neither imply existence nor existence.
    2. copyist mistake may not account for matthew´s magdala morphing into mark´s dalmanoutha !

  15. ….. its influence on society like law…

    Quite apart from gospel contradictions, this is one area where things may well get murky, given the popular canard spread around the bible belt that the ‘Lars’ and ‘Carnstitootion’ of ‘Murica’ are all taken from the ‘Bahble’…. cue tablets of ten commandments and images of a dead jewish-preacher-on-a-tree in every classroom.

  16. Marco#7

    Manuscripts were laboriously copied by hand, over and over and over again: mistakes inevitably crept in.

    Alan4discussion #12

    None of the “gospels were written by contemporary witnesses and all of them were written decades or centuries after supposed events by sects of followers from passed down stories

    One of the many things I bang on about all the time. Oral transmission and the transition of language from oral to written form, have a vast effect on narrative. Stories get distorted, merged, mistranslated and cleaned up for moral or artistic reasons. As times change, material gets altered to suit the needs of the generations and societies which use them. The interesting thing is that however fanciful the narrative, research often finds elements of truth, a grounding in real places and events, in ancient tales.

  17. Hi Aleth

    Don’t worry, your comment wasn’t deleted – not manually, anyway. The site has a very sensitive spam detector that filters out anything it suspects of being spam. And multiple posts of similar comments within a short space of time can trigger it.

    We’ve retrieved your comment for you now.

    The mods

  18. Let us now move into luke, who first mentions mary magdalene at 8:2, and is cautious enough to dub her ” Mary, the one who was called magdalene ” – making it abundantly clear for us that magdalene is a nick of sorts, which may or may not relate to a place of origin. Luke 8:2 also confirms that 7 demons had come out of mary magdalene.This thing with the 7 demons will be pivotal for us in decoding not only the mary-magdalene-, but also the jesus-overwrite.

  19. ALETH

    Comment 11:

    And Marco, please don´t give us a bart ehrman as the supreme ayatollah for jesus´ historicity here – the guy´s notorious for his
    bias. If you have any stringent ehrman arguments as to the existence
    of magdala, you are welcome to offer them to us and spare us the
    hassle. If not, let that zombie rest in peace.

    That wasn’t why I referred you to him. This isn’t about the historicity of Jesus, it’s about contradictory accounts in the gospels. I linked to him because I think the examples he gives are stronger than the Mary Magdalene one. After all, Christianity rests on the stories about Jesus. MM is a member of the cast, but the star is Jesus. If the gospels give different accounts of what he allegedly said and did (and they do), that creates a much more serious challenge to Christianity than a bit of confusion about a name. The video clip is only 5 or 6 minutes long – it’s worth a watch.

    Comment 15:

    Marco you haven´t replied :
    1. lack of any evidence for magdala does neither imply existence nor [non-]existence.
    2. copyist mistake may not account for matthew´s magdala morphing into mark´s dalmanoutha !

    I thought I had, to your second point, at least.

    1) Assuming that you’d intended this to read “existence nor non-existence”, I agree with you completely. The confusion over the name doesn’t prove she did exist, and doesn’t prove she didn’t. Even if a place called Magdala could be identified with 100% certainty, it still wouldn’t prove the existence of Mary Magdalene. Either way, it’s just not very important in the scheme of things, which is why I’m encouraging you to consider the much more damaging discrepancies in the gospel accounts of Jesus instead.

    And 2) In comment 13 I suggested several different ways that the same person could be referred to in a culture without fixed family names, depending on the descriptor chosen by the speaker. Mark’s “dalmanoutha” may just be picking up on a different identifying feature (the district she came from, rather than the precise village, for instance).

    Or it could be an error. Remember that, as Alan and eejit have pointed out above (and as I’m sure you already know, since this is clearly a subject close to your heart), all the gospels were written down long after the events they purport to describe. People get confused. (“Mary from Magdala.” “Magdala? Where’s that?” “In Dalmouthia.” Or “Near Dalmouthia.” Or “Where my sister Dalmouthia lives.” There are lots of ways it could happen!) And “Chinese whispers” set in and the story gets distorted slightly in the telling. The changes don’t have to be deliberate, and they don’t have to be part of some conspiracy. Though sometimes the changes were deliberate, with details being “corrected” to match what the scribe thought was true. My point is simply that this isn’t particularly out of the ordinary when dealing with names from so far back in history. It’s the kind of thing that historians deal with all the time. It’s just no big deal. The story of Christianity does not stand or fall on the name of Mary Magdalen’s home town. It stands or falls on the accounts of Jesus, which is what makes the discrepancies in those much, much more worth focusing on.

  20. I think some of the background is the rivalry between the cult of Mary and the cult of Peter – with each claiming the superiority of their chosen “disciple”!
    In the end the Roman church proclaimed Peter as the first pope and have regarded women as second class members ever since.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary

    King also sees evidence for tensions within 2nd-century Christianity, reflected in “the confrontation of Mary with Peter, [which is] a scenario also found in The Gospel of Thomas,[22] Pistis Sophia,[23] and the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians. Peter and Andrew represent orthodox positions which deny the validity of esoteric revelation and reject the authority of women to teach.”

  21. eejit #18
    Jan 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    One of the many things I bang on about all the time.
    Oral transmission and the transition of language from oral to written form, have a vast effect on narrative.
    Stories get distorted, merged, mistranslated and cleaned up for moral or artistic reasons.
    As times change, material gets altered to suit the needs of the generations and societies which use them.

    As you may know: I have a little list – and that is only some of the versions AFTER the Canonical set were selected!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/01/how-can-a-made-up-bible-still-be-gods-word/#li-comment-168939

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