Some years ago now a number of Federal politicians including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott claiming the Bible, when used as a literary tool, is second to none. What is more, living in a wonderful country, where such things can be said.
Tony Abbott said the Bible is at the core of Australia's civilisation and should be compulsory reading for students. He further reflected that people can read the Bible for its literary merits, without necessarily become believers.
There are so many Biblical quotations in common use within our language framework, it would be helpful if more Australians knew the original source.
He cites such ideas as the 'scape goat' which in the Old Testament where a goat was let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26.
Today, when someone is referred to as the scape goat, that person has taken the rap for something he or she has not done and more than likely unaware that they are the scape goat.
He knew not Joseph, is another common phrase; often used when a new boss comes into the picture and doesn't know the background of someone who has been of instrumental value in the past. The Old Testament story is that Joseph had saved Egypt from starvation but as the years went on and a new King arose in Egypt who knew not Joseph; and whatever favours that had been extended to the Children of Israel had long been forgotten.
There are many of these in the Old Testament. And from the New Testament, we get the 'Prodigal son' and the naming of a traitor as a 'Judas', to name but two of many.
These have helped bind our culture together in its language and unspoken understanding.
Arron Langmaid, writing for 'Adelaide Now' on 19 December 2009 (see the reference above), quoted a former Howard government Islamic advisor as saying, that Mr Abbott's remarks were "over the top".
Again, what a remarkable place Australia is, where someone from a minority religion is able to make such a comment, moreover, the comment as an opposite view is then reported in a major newspaper.
That the King James 1611 version of the Bible has had an immeasurable contribution to modern civilisation of English speaking nations, including Australia, is undisputed. Many others have likewise said it should be taught in schools as a literary tool.
The Letters of the Editors' columns across the nation saw huge numbers of people concur, while others acknowledged the Bible's huge contribution but were not as certain that it needed to be taught based on its literary value.
Australia's freedoms of both religion and speech are fundamental to our society. We can only do this, if the literary worth of the Good Book is taught to the younger generation. The upcoming religious discrimination bill (religious freedom) will become paramount should it hold water (as it were).
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html