Bible Literacy Project News
Prof. Wayne Glausser Contributes to National Report on Bible Literacy
June 6, 2006, Greencastle, Ind.
E. Glausser, professor and chair of English at DePauw University, is
quoted in a new, national report, "Bible Literacy Report II: What
University Professors Say Incoming Students Need to Know." Funded by
the John Templeton Foundation, the survey reveals that English
professors surveyed at leading universities -- including Yale,
Harvard, Princeton and Stanford -- agreed that "regardless of a
person's faith, an educated person needs to know about the Bible."
Released by the Bible Literacy Project at an academic symposium on
the Bible at Baylor University, the report surveyed 39 English
professors at 34 top U.S. colleges and universities, who said that
knowledge of the Bible is a deeply important part of a good
virtual unanimity and depth of their responses on this question were
striking," said Marie Wachlin, researcher and author of the Bible
Literacy Report II. "The Bible is not only a sacred scripture to
millions of Americans, it is also arguably, as one professor put it,
the most influential text in all of Western culture."
Dr. Wachlin adds, "Overwhelmingly, professors in this survey
indicated that a lack of basic Bible literacy hampers students'
ability to understand both classics and contemporary work. Arduously
‘decoding' scripture references detracts from absorbing and
responding to great works of art, both ancient and modern," she
“Loss of recognition [of the Bible] in the last three or four
decades has put much of Western literature beyond the reach of many
readers,” says David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of
Literature and the Humanities at Baylor University, who led the team
that produced the Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English
Literature. Adds Ulrich Knoefplmacher, professor of ancient and
modern literature at Princeton University: "Not to have a knowledge
of the Bible is almost crippling in students' ability to be
Dr. Glausser is quoted several times in the 52-page report. "I think
whenever I'm dealing with a work of literature which has some kind
of Biblical material as a subtext, a student who has some command of
that Biblical subtext will have a greater opportunity for profitable
analysis," he states. "For students who have a knowledge, but not
necessarily of a rigid commitment to a certain way of intepreting
the Bible, it's going to give them an advantage over students who
don't have it."
Later in the survey, Glausser observes, "There should be a canon of
other works that deserve similar emphasis. I think a weakness in
backgrounds of students is that even if they know the Bible
reasonably well, they're not as likely to know much about the
Qur'an. Some of them, unless they grow up in a Mormon tradition,
they might be astonished to learn some of the scriptural background
to Mormonism. They are a little naive about what it means to have a
sacred text, what beliefs are. I'm all in favor of courses that we
now are offering in a sense of comparative religious canons. As
useful as the Bible is and as influential as it is, there's still
some other texts that I'd want to hold up as just as important as a
foundation," the DePauw professor asserts.
conclusions of the new Bible Literacy Report II match findings in
the April 2005 Bible Literacy Report I: What do American teens need
to know and what do they know?, in which 98% of leading high school
English teachers surveyed said that Bible knowledge gives a distinct
academic advantage. Ninety percent of the high school teachers in
the 2005 study said Bible knowledge is critical to a good education.
Teachers said teens are “clueless,” “stumped,” and “confused” and
that a lack of Bible knowledge is harming their ability to
understand British and American literature, as well as art, music,
history and culture.