Light unto my path; The influence of the Bible
Light unto my path. I fell like a candle of understanding in Zion heart which shall not be put out. Light unto my path. An exploration of the books of the Old Testament. From these books through the ages as come our concept of man born in the image of God and made to have dominion over all things. The
Bible is the record of man's understanding of the role of the divine. We know examined that record. When it was written. How it was preserved and why it ranks first in our literature. Light unto my path produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. These programs are planned and prepared by Dr. Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Professor Mansour You may recall an item reported not long ago in The New Yorker magazine. It TV writer wanted one of his characters to say man does not live by bread
alone. And he wanted another character to reply Oh yes Genesis or whatever book of the Bible. The quotation was from the writer did not know and wanting to get the quotation exactly right. He referred the matter to the research department of CBS TV the network which was broadcasting his show back came the answer over the telephone. Man does not live by bread alone not even pre-tested bread from the American character by Dennis William Borgen. This story are ours the following comment from the Christian Century Magazine in that single paragraph is more about what's happened to the relation between the Bible and American culture than can be found in many an alarmist sermon. It's all there. The whole story. Well perhaps it is the whole story of modern Americas awareness of the Bible. It's a fact however that the Bible has
had so very considerable influence on our Western and especially American civilization. We may be unaware of our roots and the planting of these roots yet because of the planting and the roots we are what we are today. We in the West have grown from three great roots the Roman which gave us concepts of law and government. The Greek would give us aesthetic standards in literature in art and the Hebraic which gave us the concept of god religion and ethics. All three have enrich the soil of Western civilization. We are concerned here at the moment only with the Hebraic roots and the influence they have on us through the Bible and astonishing influence unique and paralleled one Bouck through the centuries shaping what we are today. The old testament bible is of course a classic as books are termed classic
in their universal appeal. Their place in the continuing heritage of the people and their impact on the thinking of man by the Bible as a classic is greater in its influence than other classics. As the sun is greater than a candle the Old Testament is a sacred book to six hundred and fifty million Christians. Two hundred twenty million Muslims and ten million Jews. It has been translated into more than 1000 languages and dialects it has been transplanted to every soil under the sun to far off lands and isolated islands it is known to millions who are not familiar with their own national literature but who speak and quote from the Bible. There are many Father lands to which man gives his allegiance. But through the Bible men of all lands share a spiritual motherland. William Lyon Phelps the distinguished professor and critic of English literature at
Yale credits the Bible with providing millions of men and women with satisfying answers to the questions that every human being must grapple with. The writer of Carlisle describes the Bible as the one book where in the spirit of man has found light and nourishment and interpret in response to whatever is deepest in him. Yet as George Bernard Shaw sayd the Bible is more up to date than the morning newspaper. This is not to say that every word of the Bible has a contemporary ring for every reader at every time. Nor are the biblical characters of the Old Testament saints of perfection and the actions and events of those ages a perfect guide to actions and events of today. The characters are human beings with human failings as we are today. Then their lives included failures as well as achievements as do our lives
today but in many of the books which constitute the Old Testament we find layer upon layer of culture of change and growth of the people and their ideas. The slow progress of men and their faith over some twelve centuries. It is this struggle of that people and the enlightment of their faith which has value for us in our struggles today both undergirded by an intense concern for right and wrong and how best to live in times that challenge a man heart and mind and soul. We cannot look at ourselves and the problems of our day without feeling the influence of the Old Testament. It is there in our moral and social development in our intellectual life and the foundations of our democracy and in our concepts of man and God. Let us explore the lost first. It has been told the omen what is good and what the Lord does
require of the only to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. This definition of religion given by the prophet Micah embodies the concept of God as conceived in the Old Testament. Here is the major and primary contribution of the Hebrew Bible to God concept and God consciousness in an enchanted primitive land engine and primitive man groped his way toward an understanding of God and the consciousness of his role in human living which is recorded in the Hebrew Bible. It is a concept of God as invisible reality. The concept of monotheism. A startling concept to be grasped in an era when all other nations without exception embrace bag an ism and folly. It grew from crude and naive beginnings up to the height and dignity of the prophets. Those men of God who whose
experience and message of faith have illuminated men's lives through the centuries. Not only is God the one the Almighty and everlasting he is one who is all righteous in whose eyes. Evil is despised the God of whom Abraham spoke. The Judge of all the earth who cannot act unjustly the God of whom this Psalmist's Tsang righteousness and justice are the foundation of the throne. Mercy and truth go before the veil are not of God who have pleasure in wickedness evil shall not so journeyed with be the haters to all workers of iniquity. The God of Hosea who first spoke of him as tender and loving and merciful. It was I who taught the freedom to walk. I took them up in my arms but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of compassion with the bands of love and I bent down to them and fed them. This god idea is the contribution of the Old testament to the civilization of man. Have we not all one father has not one God created us. The universal question asked by all men of all ages taken from the Hebrew Bible we call it the concept of ethical monotheism God identified with righteousness with justice and mercy. Man worshipping God with what worship. If God is as. As the Hebrew concept of him what worship is acceptable to him. The prophet Isaiah says secular earth and ashes are not enough. Bowing of the head is not enough. Rather this is the way acceptable to God to loose the bonds of
wickedness to undo the farm's of the yoke to let the owe pressed go free and to break every yoke to share your bread with the hungry bring the homeless poor into your house. When you see the naked to cover him to satisfy the desire of the afflicted or in the words of Micah quoted earlier it has been told the old man what is good and what the Lord does require of the only to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with by God. Out of this growing and enriched concept of an ethical God out of the standards of behavior such a principle demands have come the moral codes which are basic to our modern society. The Bible scholar and author Dr. Abraham Feldman has called the Ten Commandments the Magna Carta of the moral dignity and the ethical
sovereignty of man. I am the Lord thy God who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them or serve them. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt on labor and do all the work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God in it shalt not do any work that I'll not I son nor do I daughter nor the man servant nor the I made servant nor the an ox nor their own
ass nor the stranger that is within the gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth the sea and all that in them is and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it in these first four commandments laid the foundations of freedom divinely sanctioned and bondage divinely condemned. Here are the roots of our concept of reverence in speech and in attitude. Here is this some in our generation to reject false and materialistic standards and to cling to the highest ideals. These principles have penetrated every phase of our modern social thinking and moral aspirations. The rest of the commandments are explicit guides to civilized and ethical living at home and in the community honor thy father and thy mother that died days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God give us
three thou shalt not kill thou shalt not commit adultery Thou shalt not steal thou shalt not bear false witness against the neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor his man servant nor his maid servant nor his ox nor his ass or anything. That is the neighbors. Again and again throughout the local Judaism these codes of social justice and social progress are repeated and enlarged and made concrete in terms of human behavior in day to day circumstances from Leviticus would take a message was might well appear as the credo of a present day liberal. You shall not cheat you shall not tell a lie you shall not defraud your fellow nor rob him. You shall not keep a hired laborer out of his pay.
You shall not be guilty of any injustice. You shall not be partial to a poor man nor defer to a powerful man. You shall not of venders yourself. You shall not bear a grudge against your fellow citizens but love your neighbor as you love yourself. This then briefly is the God idea and the God consciousness of the Old Testament which has cast its influence upon our western civilization. Equally clear is the biblical concept of man. Creature of the Creator. Bearing within him something of the divine likeness and infinitesimal part of the whole majesty of nature yet. And Daoud with his spiritual essence and walking in spiritual dignity as the Psalms poet sings when I behold the heavens the work of the fingers the moon and the stars which star has to stablished. What is a man. That art mindful of him. And the son of man
that doesn't care for him that has made him little lower than the angels and dust crowned him with glory and honor long ago in the second century A.D. it will moujik teacher was asked what is the leading principle of the Law of Moses. The Torah. His reply. It is stated in the opening words of the fifth chapter of Genesis. This is the Book of the generations of man in the day that God created man in the likeness of God made he him. The ancient sages suffuses explain that the Creator creating all mankind as descendants from one man thereby sanctioned no claim to superior racial stock or inequality of origin. Man that's established in spiritual dignity is a responsible being giving freedom according to The Book of Deuteronomy to
choose between good and evil and equipped with the will the reason and the power to choose. See I have set before thee this day life and good and death and evil. I have said before the life and death the blessing the curse. Therefore choose life holy because I the LORD your God am holy. This hall Inus is rightly interpreted as righteousness of which the attributes are justice mercy tenderness and loving kindness. We are given the duty of following God's moral nature of choosing the path of righteousness and responsibility indeed man is placed in a most intimate relationship with his maker. From the Old Testament comes the understanding of the divine near-miss the ever present proximity and the words of the Psalmist.
Again the Lord is not I. Unto all of them that call upon him. Yes though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death thou art with me. The prophets struggling with inadequate words to describe God adequately to define man's relationship to him draw upon the closest human bond to describe the divine. The fatherhood concept with all men considered the children of the Living God. Have we not all one father has not one God created us. Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother. This quotation from Malakai leads directly to our concept of democracy. Those political principles which for many of us in America are almost synonymous with Western civilization. To the extent that democracy embodies the idea of human equality and spiritual
values it is a child of the Bible. Certainly there was no democracy in Europe before the Bible became available to the masses of people. There are those who believe that Martin Luther's translation of the Scriptures into German and the King James authorized version in English liberated the spirits of men and led to this Deering's of democracy in the eye of the world. Under this influence Puritan England was the forerunner of American polity and forged into our nation's character of the ancient Mosaic Code them American Revolution itself drew upon the entire Bible for its sanction and the people looked to their religious leaders for guidance without the mass media of today. The pulpit in colonial times was the dynamo of the community and the election sermons of of the 17 eighties voters could
hear their new nation refer to as God's American Israel on the Liberty Bell were engraved in these Old Testament words proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. Not only the descendants of austere Puritanism but also those revolutionary leaders concerned solely with civil power were deeply influenced by the spirit of the Bible. Thomas Paine who was certainly no friend of revealed religion centered his argument against monarchy on the Old Testament stories of Samuel and Gideon. He wrote these portions of Scripture are direct and positive. They admit of no equivocal construction that the Almighty has entered here his protest against the monarchical government is true or the scripture is false.
John Locke the philosopher father of many American thinkers such as Jefferson wrote it was he brick mortar that cemented the foundation of the republic. Out of this has come the Bible's influence on the moral and social development of Western man and like the Greeks and Romans the Hebrews tied ethics to religion and to the moral character of God and placed all of life as well as the life of all men under the wing of God. The social laws of the Bible have become a social pattern for the Western world. Our concern for the welfare of the weak in our society our hope of brotherhood our ideal of a world free from war. The concept of justice tempered by love and mercy. These are all efforts to apply Old Testament teachings and the inspiration of the prophets to the desperately difficult problems of today. Our
ethical goals are centuries old. Born in a nation which achieved remarkable insights into life and now our efforts towards those goals are equipped with science and knowledge of the 20th century. As the historian Arnold Toynbee puts it our generation will be remembered not for the atom bomb but for having made the welfare of all instead of the few Our major concern. We're turning now to the fourth major area of biblical influence the influence of the Bible on man's intellectual history created by a small nation of CMI nomadic peoples on the rim of the Mediterranean world. They're all Testament was caught up and translated and carried with nations of that world as the centuries moved through the Greek and the Roman eras. The first translation into Greek came almost immediately. About 250 B.C. on
completion of the scriptures and their final form. That is the complete anthology of books of the old Hebrew Testament the Latin Vulgate version followed in the Christian era. Then the need arose to give the Scriptures a language which the masses of people could understand. Bishop Alpha last created a Gothic language version to meet his people's need. Martin Luther in effect established in modern German language which had not existed before. In order to make a translation for his people which could be understood by all. Hence we date modern German literature from Luther's biblical translation. In English to the language of the King James Version of 16 11 standardized and gave direction to a speech which had previously wavered between Norman French and many dialects of Anglo-Saxon soul loved
and revered was the it was this English Bible by the people who now heard it in their best Kings English both from the pulpit and in the family reading circle at home that the Bible translation could be looked upon as the mother of modern English. Next to Shakespeare its great passages became naturalized in English giving us such expressions as loving kindness tender mercy scape goat paradise and Messiah. It's similes and metaphors became our common idiom such phrases as can the leopard changes spots. Men who go down to the seas in ships are a law unto himself escaped by the skin of our teeth and discover the root of all evil. Mary Mary Ellen Chase in her book the Bible and the common reader writes the language of the Bible has placed its indelible stamp
upon our best writers from bacon to Lincoln and even to the present day. Without it there would be no paradise lost no Pilgrim's Progress no Emerson north or roll no Negro spirituals no Gettysburg Address. Without it the works of Burke Washington Patrick Henry and Winston Churchill would miss a like their eloquence. The poets from John Milton to Byron to Archibald MacLeish have enriched our literature with their use of biblical material. Their worlds of inspiration the excellence of biblical language and style. These elements and more were discussed of at greater length in a previous broadcast on the Bible as literature. But it would be a mistake to limit its influence on man's intellectual history to the field of language and writing. The Bible's impact on the other arts is equally great on music painting and sculpture. If some vandal were to strip the world's art galleries and
museums of all works inspired by biblical scenes the treasures of the art world would be tragically few. The paintings of Rembrandt in Amsterdam this culture and paintings of the Vinci Michael Angelo and Raphael and Italy Blake's work in London. The list is long and a visit to the galleries of many nations would occupy the tourist for months. The field of music as well has been nourished on the Bible. It has been said that if it were stripped of all of the religious music inspired by the Bible the world's music Treasury would lose half of its voice of song. The oratory has drawn such creative genius as that of Handel and his Messiah Mendelssohn Elijah and Haydn in the creation Schubert Brahms Bruckner and Stravinsky have also given voice to inspiration rooted in the
Bible. In conclusion we must say that there MIGHT years contribution of the Old Testament our Western civilization is Christ Himself for Christ. As we have already observed in our second programme of this series is unthinkable without the Old Testament. What are the teachings and attitudes among which he was born and grew up and the foundations of the Hebrew past upon which he built his ministry. These teachings for us today as in hundreds of years of Mankind struggles since the books were first written can truly be called the light light to guide man through the darkness and the chaos either of this world or of his own mind. The sun missed long ago gave us words to shape our feeling.
The word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Like unto my path. Radio programs exploring the Old Testament. The series is planned prepared and narrated by Dr Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin script writing by Jay Helen Stanley. Music by Dun vaguely. Production by Carl Schmidt.
Light unto my path is produced by radio station WHDH of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcast. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
- Light unto my path
- The influence of the Bible
- Producing Organization
- University of Wisconsin
- WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program, the last in the series, looks at the ways that the Bible still resonates in modern society, even if it is sometimes not as well-known as before.
- Series Description
- This series explores the books of the Old Testament, how they were written, how they were preserved, and why they continue to have influence.
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Composer: Voegeli, Don
Host: Grauer, Ben
Narrator: Manning, Dean
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-50-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Light unto my path; The influence of the Bible.” 1960-11-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-x05xbq7x>.
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