Everything That Nobody Ever Taught You About the Bible

A discussion-oriented, text-based semester on stories in the Bible that are ethically, theologically, and emotionally challenging for Prozdor students.

Background: Throughout most Hebrew-school education, much emphasis is placed on general Bible stories; little or no emphasis, however, is placed on the more difficult passages. Because of their harsh language, difficult theology, or sensitive subject matter, teachers often steer clear of these stories, some of which challenge basic tenets of Judaism in ways that are not usually discussed in the classroom setting. What do we do when we think that our patriarchs, heroes, or even God has done something wrong? 

Core Concept:  We will be focusing on many of the stories and concepts within the Biblical narrative that present difficulties to the common reader. Through the use of Fowler’s "second naïveté" system, we will focus on recreating a new understanding of the story after multiple readings and discussion. Fowler asserts that there is a "primary naïveté," which we develop on the first reading of a story. Through critical analysis and discussion we can then break down the text into manageable, understandable parts and finish with a second naiveté, that is, with the critical material incorporated into our conscious. 

Method: Using the 4MAT method, we will begin each lesson removed from the subject matter, with a concrete experience to which students can relate. Each lesson will be titled with a lyric from a song that pertains to one of the new interpretations presented as the second naïveté at the end of class. The class will begin with either listening to the song or discussing the lyric. We will analyze how students react, using reflective observation. 

We will then read and react to the text itself, listing difficulties and responses. Each lesson has particularities that will be presented and discussed. 

Multimedia, including footage from films such as Field of Dreams, Deep Impact, and City of Angels, will be used to provide more concrete experience.

Instructional Objective:  Through the guided study and discussion of difficult Biblical stories, we will pursue a mature, intelligent understanding of some of the complexities in the Biblical narrative. We will also pursue a deeper understanding of God’s relationship to the people and the atrocities of the modern world.