What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In 1947 a Bedouin goat shepherd came upon a cave on the northwest shore of  the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into one of the cave and heard what sounded like pottery shattering. He came back the next day and entered the cave. He found that it was filled with large jars containing scrolls. What he stumbled upon was the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

11 caves in all housed jars that contained 900 scrolls.
They date from 250 BC - 68 AD.
Most were written on parchment but some were written on papyrus and bronze.
Most of the scrolls were not biblical scriptures, but over 200 were.
Every book is represented among the scrolls, except the book of Esther.
These scrolls gave us the oldest copies of the Hebrew Scriptures that we now have.
- 20 copies of the Book of Genesis
- 21 copies of the Book of Exodus
- 11 copies of the Book of Numbers
- 21 copies of the Book of Isaiah
- 36 scrolls containing many of the Psalms.

In viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Museum of Science recently, I came away with two main impressions:

1. The scribes were amazing.

These scrolls gave biblical scholars manuscripts that were more than 900 years older than the oldest manuscripts we had. But when you read the Dead Sea Scrolls you say to yourself, "Yes, that's Genesis 1 as I know it from my Bible. And that's Joshua 7, and that's the famous Isaiah passage, "the lion shall lie down with the lamb" (Is. 11:6).  In other words, the scribes who copied the scriptures, thus preserving them for future generations, knew what they were doing, and they did their work with great care.

My other lasting impression was this . . . .

2. Those who hid the scrolls cherished the scriptures.

The theory is that these ancient people believed that Jerusalem was no longer safe and therefore their scriptures had to be removed from the temple and kept elsewhere. They hid them in the caves so that God's Word could be read by those who would come long after them. Little did they know that the scrolls would not be read for 2000 years!

Prayer: God of all generations, help us to cherish the words of scripture and never take them for granted. Help us to love your Word as they did long ago. Amen.

 Some of the caves:

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