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NEA Today: Book Focus:
To the Land of Milk and Honey

November, 2005

The Bible and Its Influence: bibleliteracyproject.orgIn his letters, John Steinbeck wrote that there is one story in the world, "and only one," of humans caught in a net of hunger and ambition, good and evil—and that is the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, the basis of his powerful 1952 novel East of Eden.

Within that story can be found a half-dozen or more archetypal plot motifs, including the classic detective's tale or the story of the innocent victim, suggests a new textbook, The Bible and Its Influence, released in September.

The book, produced by the Bible Literacy Project, aims to familiarize high school students with biblical language, literary forms, plot lines, and characters so they can better understand art, literature, and culture. It's a touchy topic, isn't it?

Bible study in public schools immediately raises questions of Constitutionality, but organizers have a ready answer. If the Bible is taught academically, "not devotionally," and if the students aren't engaged in the practice of religion, then it's all kosher, so to speak.

For more information, see


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