Letter: Teaching Bible, professionally, a daunting task
My concerns about teaching the Bible in public schools outweigh my enthusiasm for such a task. If approved, the teacher will need to know the Bible very well, and I am not talking about having read it in church or Bible study, etc. Such a task requires a level of knowledge and professionalism beyond one’s personal beliefs.
Thomas Jefferson stated: “To compare the morals of the Old, with those of the New Testament, would require an attentive study of the former, a search through all its books for its precepts, and through all its history for its practices and the principles they prove. As commentaries, too, on these, the philosophy of the Hebrews must be inquired into, their Mishna, their Gemara, Cabbala, Jezirah, Sohar, Cosri, and their Talmud, must be examined and understood, in order to do them full justice.” (“The Old and New Testaments, To John Adams, Monticello, October 13, 1813” The World of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, 293-294)
If Bible studies are approved, the teacher must have a working knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and even some Aramaic and Latin would help, the ancient world and its many cultures, especially in the region, and if you want to study Jesus and his times, the same applies: languages, cultures, histories of the area including Judaism, the Roman Empire and Mystery religions, Maccabees, and what not.
This is context within which Jesus was born, lived, and ministered. I strongly recommend Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton.
If this is going to be a real thing, as opposed to a fake thing, then the standards need to be set exceedingly high. These young students deserve no less.