Israel News

Education Ministry overhauls Bible education

The Israel Education Ministry has concluded that the country’s high school students are uninterested and unfamiliar with the basics of the Bible. A new study programme has been introduced to correct the current situation and introduce students to the book of Genesis.

According to Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad, many students have never opened a Bible during their studies and most Israeli high school graduates know nothing of the Genesis account of creation, nor can they recite the Ten Commandments. After a thorough examination of Bible teaching in the school system, Israel’s Education Ministry has decided to revolutionise next year’s Bible study programme with the aim of restoring Bible education to its original status.

Drora Levy, the national Bible supervisor in the Education Ministry views the book of Genesis as the Bible’s genetic code and the foundation of the Jewish people. “Without it”, she says, “we have no roots, no promise.” The new Bible study programme will require teachers to follow the chronological order of events so that students will learn the Bible “in the appropriate manner.” Education Ministry officials believe that the overhaul will make the Bible more “approachable” for pupils.

The basic problem with making the Bible approachable to pupils is that the traditional Hebrew Masoretic text is extremely difficult for them to read. Your own enthusiasm for reading the Scriptures might well be dampened if your version of the Bible started like this:

In the firste made God of nought heuene and erthe. The erthe forsothe was veyn wyth inne and void, and darkenessis weren upon the face of the seeā€¦

Reading the ancient Hebrew Bible is harder for Israelis than it is for us to read John Wycliffe’s 14th century English. Some Israeli children actually find it easier to read the Bible in English, French or German than in the original Hebrew.

This is why publishing the Bible in simple Hebrew is so vital. In England, two centuries after Wycliffe’s Bible, William Tyndale recognised the importance of having a translation of the Scriptures in speech so plain that a ploughboy could read it. Though volume 4 of the Children’s Bible has been published, it is imperative to make it more accessible to the public. The challenge is to persuade retail outlets in Israel to stock the Children’s Bible and it may be that the new approach to Bible teaching in schools will encourage Israeli book sellers to reconsider their reluctance to stock it.

This artilce first appeared in the winter Herald 2010

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