The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – June 21 – The Big Book of Great Stories?

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I am not a religious person, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t read the bible, or the Qur’an, or books of eastern and western religions. I always find religious stories fascinating, and what’s even more astounding are the amount of books that have alluded to different religious stories in their non-religious story lines.

If you are a follower of Structuralist Theory, then you are aware that there “X” number of things that must be followed in every story. Many of these plot points are derived from the bible; therefore, most texts have something to do with some great book that millions of people worship every Sunday. But do we need to be religious to study these original texts?

When I was a freshman in college, the Bible as Literature course was cancelled due to low enrollment. I was upset because I wanted to take this course. I wanted to understand the subtext of these classic stories, and truly analyze character motive, conflict, consequence, and resolution. I mean, what greater story than that of an omnipresent narrator, who can guide plot lines, but not be seen by anyone – wait… doesn’t that happen in Our Town?

Let’s take a look at one of the awesome stories in this big book:

Abraham migrated with his father Terah from Ur to Haran. After his father’s death God called Abraham to go to the land that he would show him where he would make of Abraham a great nation.  Abraham went to Canaan with his wife  Sarah and nephew Lot.  As Abraham and Sarah grew older they had no children, so Abraham fathered a son, Ishmael, through Sarah’s servant Hagar. The birth of Ishmael did not fulfill God’s promise of a child to Abraham and Sarah so the promise of a great nation remained unrealized.  God reaffirmed his promise to give Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven, however, and God made circumcision the sign of his covenant relationship. When Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah bore a son named Isaac.  God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. As they traveled, Isaac asked what they would sacrifice and Abraham replied that God would provide the lamb. As Abraham made ready to sacrifice the boy, God intervened and spared him, and Abraham sacrificed a ram caught in the bushes. The New Testament portrays Abraham as an example of faith, affirming that the promises God made to Abraham extend to all who believe.

**Story taken from THIS site

So, we have travel, adventure, marriage, a son fathered out of infidelity, a promise of more children, a plot to kill one son – fathered at 100 years old – in order to make good on a promise, and a last second dismissal of the main conflict in order to prove a moral. Sounds like a pretty cool story, and also the plot of a good number of movies (substitute child / children for any number of things). Sounds like Pulp Fiction, or True Romance, or The Godfather, etc.

So, my question to you:

Should the bible be taught as a fictional, literary text, or should it merely serve religious purposes? 

 

 

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About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

2 comments on “QOTD – June 21 – The Big Book of Great Stories?

  1. kiwiskan
    June 21, 2013

    It’s not too astounding that these books are referred to so often – they are ingrained into our cultures

  2. Bryan W. Pajari
    June 21, 2013

    If a book has proven facts in it, is it fiction or non fiction, this new testament was written by people who have lived with Jesus in his time. The old testament was written by people before. Should the history books be taken for the truth or fiction. Well most people believe they are true because they don’t have to have faith that they have happened, they have grandfathers, great grand fathers who have lived through the history that we have taught. Its just society adapting to what is lost deep in are history. I feel like we should fight to gain what are old society has lost in, “lack of faith.” People choose what they put their faith in, based on how they were raised. Even people who lived with God, saw his merciless, still denied his existence. I think it isn’t really, you have too have faith to believe in God, because the New testament is just like any other history book, it is written by people who lived with Jesus. 6 inch curtains don’t just get wiped in half just by coincidence. When Jesus died the temple was destroyed, and a new temple was built. AKA “Us.” People don’t just die and arise from the grave three days later.

    P.S. It was a lamb that was sacrificed in place of Abraham’s son. Sarah was baron, she couldn’t have kids. Abraham thought she couldn’t have a baby, “lack of faith,” he had sex with Ishmael, a young women in his tribe. Because God promised him a son. Soon after Sarah, the “baron” woman witch is Abraham’s wife had a baby, which changed everything. Ishmael and her son where sent away. Abraham was told by God, that he had to sacrifice his son, he attempted, but God interrupted him as a lamb was in the distance.

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