The Importance of Biblical Essays in College Classrooms
I remember when I was a college freshman back in 2010; I was in English Comp. I. My professor (name withheld for confidentiality purposes) had no use for APA (American Psychological Association) formatting, being an English professor, naturally, and so he was introducing us all to MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting. For anyone who happens upon this post, APA is for academic applications pertaining to the social sciences (such as psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, etc.) MLA formatting refers literature, linguistics, political science and many other majors and areas that exclude social sciences. Areas such as Forensic Anthroplogy and similar majors are interchangeable between the two formats.
Our job for one particular essay we were to write, included writing about any essay topic we wanted to choose, just as long as we didn’t cite the Bible. Anyone who knows me well automatically knows that I would have a huge problem with that. The Bible, to some, is merely a book of “mythological collections” of stories and things, made up from a group on men that may or may not have been influenced by God. Using that philosophy, my professor explained that the Bible had no place in academic writings! I was offended and utterly shocked that he would discredit a book that is more than a collection of stories to millions of people: It is the manual to the very core of what many people believe in, stand for, and try to live by. I was prepared to fight for my stand and rights in this area!
I wrote my professor privately, imploring him to change his mind and stated that the Bible has its place in the world of academia, just as much as Shakespeare and other works. I was particularly offended that he didn’t ban the Koran, or any other religious works other than the Bible. In fact, he didn’t discredit anything at all other than the Bible.
I could tell that my battle was not going to be easy but I wanted to reach the professor on his level. The only way I was going to get through to him would be to speak his language. So, I decided to write my essay about the importance of using the Bible in college essays. Sneaky sneaky. 🙂
But it worked! I wrote m essay using a collection of quotes and saying from my professor’s very cohorts- other professors from Princeton, Yale and superior colleges and their views on using the Bible as an academic citation and its importance. If he didn’t listen to me, then perhaps he would consider the thoughts and feelings of his peers.
After reading my essay, my professor issued a public apology in the announcements section stating that he had decided to revise his instructions, and that now the Bible would be allowed to be used for citations in academic writings. He also emailed me privately and apologized, telling me that he changed his curriculum- even the syllabus- to include that information.
That’s huge! I was greatly comforted knowing that future Christian students (and nonChristian students- anybody) would be allowed to use the Bible in their writings and cite it. Major victory.
And for anyone who might want to read my essay- one of the first of my academic papers- I’m publishing it below. This is for educational purposes only and anyone who considers taking it and using it for their own paper should know that most reputable and accredited colleges use Turnitin- an academic plagiarizing system. Any essay/peer review/college paper that you submit is run through this filtering system. If so much as 5 words used consecutively pop up together- it’ll link it back to my essay here and you’ll be busted. If your school doesn’t use Turnitin (or anything similar) – run fast and far away from that school; it’s worthless.
By the way, I received an A. 😉
The Importance of Biblical Citations in College Essays
When researching how to cite from the Bible using MLA style, it is noteworthy to include that more than five-hundred pages appear immediately on Google’s search engine with the instructional information. Clearly, it is evident that Biblical citations are of great importance in college essays. A student need not attend a Christian college to write a paper that requires Biblical references any more than a person needs to be a priest in order to pray over his or her food. Disallowing the Bible as a direct source or reference in college essays can be compared to scholastic surgery and academic amputation. By prohibiting students the use of what is considered by many to be the most important book ever written, an instructor is prohibiting not only the access and use of the Bible, but the very belief system of the student. Packed with codes and ethics, parables and proverbs, the Bible is, for many, not just a book, but a life manual.
Greek and Roman Mythology has long been considered acceptable academic college curriculum, but there seems to be an undisputable amount of professors who are in favor of using Biblical works in the college classroom as well. Gerald Bruns, an English professor at Notre Dame said, “You can’t really study Western literature intelligently or coherently without starting with the Bible. . . . You’re simply ignorant of yourself,” (Wachlin). One might conclude that if the Bible is considered acceptable college curriculum, using the Bible for citations and references is not only acceptable, but practical. When asked to compile a list of concentrations that would enrich their students significantly by reading the Bible, the professors produced the following:
- Doing everything or almost everything with texts.
- Studying all subsequent literature and culture.
- Being richer more sophisticated readers.
- Recognizing literary allusions, references, typology and echoes.
- Understanding how characterization in novels and thematic levels in poetry are linked to Biblical allusions.
- Grasping things directly without having to make the three-way connection through footnotes, through explanatory things.
- Understanding and recognizing the idea of the Christ figure.
- Reading specific authors.
- Hearing Toni Morrison’s “voice.”
- Finding their way around a text.
- Possessing a solid advantage in understanding Victorian art and literature.
- Not needing translation when learning Old English.
- Understanding the parable genre.
- Doing literary analysis.
- Understanding questions of canonicity and non-Biblical literature.
- Appreciating the tone of the politics of the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Making personal connections.
- Discussing “meaning” and “values” with understanding and insight.
Again, it is noteworthy to point out that the professors work in secular colleges that are not Christian or faith based. Professor Goldsmith of Berkeley College had this to say, “I’m always impressed by how excited students are, in part because when you take a literary approach to the Bible and read the text closely, the text itself is so fascinating and strange that students are amazed when they encounter it. . . .They come to it with a whole set of preconceptions; they have ideas either from religious training, or because they’ve avoided religious training. But when they actually sit down to read the Bible, they’re fascinated. I know that’s a class where I can get students hooked in the first week,” (Wachlin). Without the ability to cite directly from the Bible, it is still possible to write an essay or research paper about the Bible, but the references will be watered down in comparison if in fact, a passage or Biblical quotation is needed.
When a college professor disallows the Bible to be used for citations, he or she might also be saying, “You may not discuss anything pertaining to God, for you will not be allowed to cite it.” Such an infraction can be considered an infringement of the student’s rights. A professor should not strip away the rights of a student any more than he or she should be allowed to infringe upon them. The banning of the Bible in the college classroom is not only heinously one-sided; but a perpetuation of ignorance. For example, if a student were to write a paper on Biblical statutes pertaining to the law circa 2,000 B.C., he or she would have to rely on Encyclopedia articles or website information; but not be allowed to go to the very source of information where the statutes originate. More than 2,000 years of history is immediately cut off from the student when the Bible is forbidden as a citation resource. David Humpal, the author of “The Importance of God’s Word”, raised a valid point when he said, “The Bible is not just one big book, but actually a collection of 66 smaller books written over a period of at least 1600 years by about 40 different authors. Everything they wrote was inspired by God,” (Humpal). By prohibiting students to use the Bible as a reference in college essays, professors are actually forbidding the students access to sixty six individual books, full of detailed, historical information covering everything from recorded births and deaths, to ongoing precepts and laws.
Humpal adds in a bulleted reference, Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away,” (Humpal), taken from the Holy Bible. According to Humpal’s reference, heaven and earth will one day become void, but the words in the Bible will continue on. This is even more reason to believe that the Bible should not be banned from college works, considering that many literary works that are used in the classroom are based on Biblical passages, such as Shakespeare and Hemingway.
Considering that the very foundation of many literary works comes from Biblical references, it should not have to be said that the Bible holds great value in the college classroom. To disallow such a precious resource is to rob a student of his or her literary maturity and thwart their potential progress in many areas. Removing the Bible from the list of citable works adds one more notch in the belt of hypocrisy in the classroom. For if you ban God and His Word, so too must you ban the devil and his literary works as well, and no man can be the judge and appoint himself such a high seat as that.
Wachlin, Marie. “SBL Publications.” Society of Biblical Literature. Society of Biblical Literature, 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=757>.
Humpal, David. “The Importance of God’s Word.” The Importance of God’s Word. 1997. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://www.hurtingchristian.org/PastorsSite/topicalstudies/godswo.htm>.
September 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm
Why thank you. 🙂
September 11, 2015 at 3:52 pm
Well done. Actually, this should include all sacred texts whatever the faith or cultural context. I suspect that the professor was reacting to a narrow interpretation and use of Biblical text. There are those who use the authority of the text as last word on the subject because it is the Word of God ( “We know it is the Word of God because it says so in the Bible”).
Very shortly after I retired teaching I was asking a science teacher how the school year was going. Now the Grade nine curriculum includes a unit on space & the solar system, and she had run into an issue with one of her students. Apparently, according to the Bible , the Heavens do not include planetary systems. This student was allowed to abstain from that unit at the parents request. This type of issue does not happen frequently in our school community. I only had one incident in my whole teaching career – it happen very early on, a father did not want his daughter reading Childhood’s End.
September 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm
I totally agree with you that he should’ve included all religious texts and all texts, in general. I felt the need to defend my right to use the Bible, in particular, because that’s the only religious text that he DID ban. All others were welcome, so…I felt that he was a tad bit biased. I really didn’t expect to get the results I did, so I was pleasantly surprised. And I can believe you’re a retired teacher! Your writing is far superior to most that I’ve read in other blogs, so, that was pretty much a dead giveaway/ ;0)
September 14, 2015 at 6:41 pm
WOMAN! That is super freaking amazingly awesome.
September 14, 2015 at 4:34 am
September 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm
Yay for the A!! And for standing up for what you believe! I agree, the Bible has just as much place in academia as Shakespeare or any other piece of writing!
September 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm
Thanks, Amy. I couldn’t believe he still gave me an A after I email-shamed him! Unbelievable…heheh…
September 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm