Edward Maitland.

Jewish literature and modern education: or, The use and misuse of the Bible in the schoolroom online

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ye wish Liter at^Lre and
Modern Education.



JEWISH LITERATURE



AND



MODERN EDUCATION:



OK,



THE USE AND MISUSE OF THE BIBLE IN
THE SCHOOLROOM.

BY THE AUTHOK OF " THE PILGKIM AM) THE SUKINE," ETC.



{PREVIOUSLY PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION).



LONDON :
TRUBNEE & CO., 8 & 60, PATERNOSTER ROW.

1872.



" These wei-e more noljle than those in Thessalonica, in that they
. , . searched the Scriptures daily, whetlier those things were so." — •
Acts xvii. 11^



(Delivered originally before the Sunday Lecture Society of London).






6



PEE FACE.



Whether or not the Solution, given in these Lectures,
of the " Religious Difficulty " in our National Education,
be acceptable for practical application, is a question other
than that of the intrinsic soundness of that Solution.
It is to this only that my responsibility extends. The
responsibility of declining to accept a j^rofFered remedy
must rest with those to whom the oifer is made.

I had intended to keep these Lectures in manuscript,
and repeat them wherever an audience might be found
desirous of hearing facts stated without respect to aught
but the facts. It is in compliance with very many
and pressing solicitations that I have, by printing them,
withdrawn them from further delivery as Public Lectures.
My hope now is that the readers will not be less nume-
rous than the hearers would have been, had I adhered
to my original intention.

The Lectures are printed with the changes made on
their second delivery, in Edinburgh. I cannot let them

G6ii?03



IV Preface.

go from me without acknowledging my obligations to
the series of small publications issued periodically by
Mr Thomas Scott of Kamsgate, to whose indefatigable
self-devotion to the cause of " Free Inquiry and Free
Expression," the present rapid spread of information,
and consequent movement of thought on religious
matters, especially among the clergy of the Establish-
ment, — {a movement far greater than the public is aware
of) — is in no small degree attributable. The tracts
entitled. The Defective Morality of the Neio Testament, by
Professor F. W. Newman ; The Gospel of the Kingdom,
and The Influence of Sacred History on the Intellect and
Conscience, — especially deserve mention for the use I
have made of them. A few brief passages given as
quotations, but without reference, are for the most part
taken, with more or less exactness, from The Pilgrim and
the Shrine. E. M.



London, September 1871.



SYNOPSIS.



LECTURE THE FIRST.

SECTION PAGE

1. INTRODUCTION, ..... 1

2. DEFINITION AND FUNCTION OF EDUCATION, . . 3

3. THE SCHOOL BOARDS AND THE " RELIGIOUS DIFFICULTY," 6

4. THE GENESIS AND HABITAT OF THE " DIFFICULTY," . 11
6. THE BIBLE AS A MORAL TEACHER, . . .12

6. THE BIBLE AS AN INTELLECTUAL TEACHER, . . 24

7. THE BIBLE "WITHOUT NOTE OR COMMENT," . . 27

8. THE GOSPELS AND THE CHARACTER OF JESUS, . . 35

9. THE "KINGDOM OF HEAVEN," . . . .37



LECTURE THE SECOND.

10. THE NEW TESTAMENT AS A RULE OF LIFE AND FAITH, , 41

11. THE " CONTINUITY OF SCRIPTURE," DOCTRINAL AND

OTHER, ...... 48

12. WHY THE BIBLE SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS, . 57

13. HOW IT SHOULD BE DEALT WITH, . . .65

14. "notes AND COMMENTS;" THE PRINCIPLE OF THEIR

CONSTRUCTION, ..... 69

15. BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY, . . , .74

16. BIBLICAL INSPIRATION, . . . .78

17. THE BIBLE AND MODERN COMMENTATORS, . . 86

18. THE BIBLE AND MODERN PRACTICE, . . .88

19. THE SCHOOL AND TEACHER OF THE FUTURE, . . 94



CORRECTIONS.



Page 14, line 1, for xxxvii. read xxxviii.

„ Hue 3, for ix. read xi.

Page 31, line 5 from bottom, for Gen. read Jer.

Page 36, add as footnote, See also Luke ix. 60-62, and Mark vii.
27, for harsh utterances ascribed to Jesus.

Page 61, line 14, put " after intelligence.

Page 63, line 13, jmt are before book.

Page 92, add as footnote, See also Luke xxiv. 39. Acts x'i. 15. '

Page 97, line 3, omit " after all.



LEOTUEE THE FIEST.



"Why is it witli us in England, that with all our achieve-
ments in Science, Literature, and Art ; in Government,
Industry, and Warfare; in Honour, Religion, and Virtue ;
with conquests ranging over the whole threefold domain
of Humanity, the Physical, the Intellectual, and the
Moral, — why is it that the moment we attempt to ex-
tend the manifold blessings of our civilisation to the
entire mass of our countrymen, we find ourselves at fault
and utterly baffled 1

Long has the condition of myriads among us been
known to be terrible in its degradation. Long have we
acknowledged an earnest desire to raise them out of that
condition. Measure after measure have we devised and
enacted ; but none of them, not even the vast Church-
establishment of the realm, has proved in any degree
commensurate with the evil. At length our efforts have
culminated in the elaboration and enactment of one
comprehensive scheme ; and we have proceeded so fixr as
to have elected as our representatives to carry it into
effect, those of us whom, for superior intelligence and
energy, we deem best qualified for the task.

Shortlived, however, do our exultant hopes promise to

A



2 "Jewish Literature

be. The very agents of our beneficent intentions, the
Schoolboards, in whose hands are borne the germs of our
redemption and future civilisation, are altogether at such
odds within themselves upon some of the leading and
most essential principles, that the scheme threatens
wholly to collapse in disheartening failure, or to become
a perennial source of bitterness and dissension.

Is it not passing strange ? Based though our culture
has for centuries been, upon one and the self-same book,
so far from our having attained any degree of unity
thereby, we are divided and rent into sects and factions
innumerable and irreconcilable, until it would appear as
if the very spirit of that proverbially perverse and stiff-
necked people whose sacred literature we have adopted
as the rule of our faith and practice, had passed into
ourselves and become a constituent part of our very
nature.

The greatness of the emergency, — for it is the redemp-
tion of our masses from pauperism, ignorance, and bar-
barism that is at stake, — not justifies merely, but impe-
ratively demands the strenuous collaboration of all who,
having the good of their kind at heart, have made this
question one of special investigation. It is in no spirit
of hasty presumption, — scarcely is it with much hope of
wide acceptance, — at least in the present, — that I have
responded to the invitation to recite here to-day the con-
clusions to wliich my study of the points at issue has
brought me. Ilather is it that it will be a relief to my-
self to have thrown off the reflections and results which,
in a somewhat varied experience at home and abroad,
have accumulated upon me, and to feel that I have done
this at the time when there is most chance of their being
useful. It is thus that I have prepared my contribution



and Modern Education. 3

towards the solution of " the Religious Difficulty " which
lies " a lion in the path " of our National Education and
all our national improvement, showing as yet not the
smallest symptom of discomposure through any " Reso-
lution " of Metropolitan or other School-board.



II.

In all emergencies, whether of conduct or of opinion,
where there is doubt and space for deliberation, it is
best to go back to the very beginning of the matter, and
there, in its initial principles, seek the clue which is to
conduct us safely out of our dilemma. It is wonderful
sometimes how readily a skein is disentangled when
once the right end of the thread has been found. Our
friends across the Atlantic, the Americans, were for a long
time disastrously hampered in their attempts at legisla-
tion. It is not surprising that it should have been so,
when we consider that the principal object of legislation
is Man, and that the two great sections of the American
community differed altogether in their definition of Man ;
the one holding that persons who had dark complexions
and a peculiar kind of rough curly hair, several millions
of whom lived in the country, were not men ; and the
other holding that they were just as much entitled to be
treated as human beings as people with light complexions
and smooth hair. At length, after many years of bitter
quarrelling, ending with one of the most fearful inter-
necine conflicts ever known, it was agreed to regard all
people as human, and to legislate alike for them with per-
fect equality ; whereupon the difficulty entirely vanished,
and the course of the nation became smooth and easy.

In like manner our difficulties, in regard to popular



4 Jewish Literature

instruction, have all arisen through our neglect of a de-
finition. We have not defined to ourselves the precise
object of the system of National Education, which, after
generations of anxious endeavour, we have at length
succeeded in obtaining, and which we are now seeking
to bring into operation throughout the length and
breadth of the land.

The first step towards obtaining what we want, ever
is to know what we want ; and since in this case we
cannot purchase the article ready-made, but have to
fabricate it for ourselves, it is not sufficient to have a
bare name for it, or a vague apprehension about it, but
we must be conversant with its nature, characteristics,
and uses.

Let us further simplify and enlarge the scope of the
question, and ask what is the object of all the education,
public or private, which we give, or seek to give, to our
children *? What, in short, is the purpose of education 1

Using the term education in its broad sense, and
without reference to technical instruction in special
subjects, we can only answer, that its purpose is to
make children into good and capable men and women by
cultivating their intelligence and their moral sense, or
conscience.

It follows, if we agree to this definition, that we are
bound to reject as worse than useless, any instruction
which is calculated to repress or pervert either of those
faculties from their proper healthy development.

Those who at first hesitate to acquiesce in this defini-
tion, in the belief that education should have a more
special object, such as to make good Christians, good
Catholics, good Protestants, good Churchmen, or good
Nonconformists, must on a little reflection perceive that



and Modern Education. 5

they cannot really mean to rank the intelligence and
moral sense as secondary and subordinate to such ends,
but that they only desire people to be good Christians,
good Churchmen, and so on, because the fact of being so
Avould, in their view, involve the best culture of the
faculties in question. So that if they believed it did not
involve this end, they would abandon their preference
for such denominations. That is, they would rather
have people to be good men and bad (say) Noncon-
formists, than good Nonconformists and bad men.

Agreeing, then, that the object of education is the
development of the intellect and moral sense, we shall,
no doubt, further agree that the best chance of success-
fully cultivating those desirable qualities which we
designate virtues, lies in impressing the mind while
young with the most elevated and winning examples of
them, and guarding it from any familiarity with their
opposites ; and that it is because we deem such qualities
to be best, that we regard the Deity as possessing them
in the Infinite, and hold up as a pattern of life the most
perfect example of them in the finite.

Yet, though agreeing both in the object and method
of education when thus plainly put before us, so ingeni-
ously perverse and inconsistent are we that we first
refuse to agree upon any common system of instruction
whatever, and then we insist upon neutralising or
vitiating such instruction as we do agree upon, by
mingling it with teaching which is at once repressive of
the Intellect, and injurious to the Moral Sense.

The sole impediment to the success of our efforts, the
rock upon which all our hopes of rescuing the mass of our
countrymen from ignorance and barbarism are in danger
of being dashed, consists in the unreasoning and indis-



6 ^Jewish Literature

criminate veneration in which the Bible is popularly-
held among us. Impelled by that veneration, we hesi-
tate not to degrade our children's view of Deity by
familiarising them with a literature in which He is
represented as feeble, treacherous, implacable, and
unjust ; and confound at once their Intelligence and
Moral Sense, by compelling them to regard that litera-
ture as altogether divine and infallible.

Sti'ange infatuation and inconsistency, if, after toiling
for years to obtain an effective system of national edu-
cation, we either abandon the task as hopeless, or insist
upon accompanying it by teaching which involves a fatal
outrage upon the very intellect and conscience which it
is the express purpose of that education to foster and
develop !

III.

Before considering the action of the School-boards, I
must advert for a moment to the principle of their con«
stitution.

There is this difference between Government by Re-
presentation and Government by Delegation. It is the
duty of the mere delegate to vote on any given question
precisely as a majority of his constituents may instruct
him. The deliberative function rests Avith them. He is
their faithful, but unintelligent instrument. The repre-
sentative, on the contrary, is selected on account of his
superior faculties or attainments, to go on behalf of his
constituents to the headquarters of information, and
there, in conference with other selected intellects, form
the best judgment in his power ; his constituents deter-
mining only the general principles and direction of his
policy.



and Modern Education. 7

The School-boards which are charged with the deter-
mination of our new educational system, having been
selected on this principle of representation, we are
entitled to look to their suj)erior intelligence to sup-
plement popular deficiencies ; to be superior to popular
prejudices ; to be teachers, and, if need be, rebukers,
rather than followers and flatterers of the less instructed
masses : and it is due to such bodies that we carefully
examine the methods by which they propose to deal with
existing difficulties.

Those difficulties turning exclusively upon Religion,
one great step towards their solution has been gained by
the agreement to exclude from the common schools such
minor subjects of diff"erence as the creeds and catechisms
of particular denominations. The Bible remains, the sole
stumbling-block and rock of offence.

The London Board may be taken as representative
not only of the largest and most intelligent body of
constituents, but also of all the other School-boards. I
propose, therefore, to deal with the propositions by
which the members of that Board have sought to meet
the "religious difficulty." They are six in number :

1. That the Bible be excluded altogether, on the
ground that its admission is inconsistent with religious
equality.

2. That the Bible be admitted and read, but without
note or comment.

3. That the Bible be read for the purpose of religious
culture, at the discretion of the teacher.

4. That the teacher's discretion in the use of the Bible
be so restricted as to exclude the distinctive doctrines of
any sect.

5. That no principle respecting the use of the Bible



8 Jewish Literature

be laid down, but that each separate school be dealt with
by itself.

6. That the Bible be read with such explanations in
matters of language, history, customs, &c., as may be
needed to make its meaning plain ; and that there be
given such instruction in its teaching, on the first prin-
ciples of morality and religion, as is suitable to the
capacities of children ; always excluding denominational
teaching.

The Fifth Eesolution, " that no principle be laid down,"
aptly describes the condition of the question up to that
point. In the absence of a definition of its object, it
was impossible for the Board to lay down any principle
for its guidance. In the absence of any controlling
definition, it could only look back to its constituents to
see what they would bear from it. And looking to the
confused mass of public opinion and prejudice in the
absence of any light of one's own, is like shutting one's
eyes to avoid seeing the dark.

Travelling one day by a railway on which there are
several tunnels, I observed that whenever the train
entered a tunnel, a little boy who sat next to me, im-
mediately pressed his hands over his eyes, and buried his
face in the cushions. To my inquiry why he did this,
he answered that it was because he was afraid of the
dark. I asked him whether it Avas not just as dark to
him when his face was buried in the cushions. He said
yes ; but he had not thought of that, and he would not
know now what to do. I could not bear to deprive him
of his faith, however unenlightened, without giving him
another. A lamp Avas burning in the roof of the car-
riage, too dim in the broad daylight to have attracted
his attention, yet bright enough to dispel the gloom of



and Modern Education. 9

the tunnel. I suggested that, instead of covering his
face, he would do better to keep his eyes fixed on the
lamp. The little fellow brightened with joy at the
thought ; and during the rest of the journey, the in-
stant we entered a tunnel, there he was, no longer fear-
ful and burying himself in deeper darkness, but steadfastly
looking to the light that shone above him.

" Look to the light ! " is no bad maxim even for those
who have to determine grave questions for the benefit
of others. We have but to " look to the light" of the
definition we have already agreed upon, and difficulties
fly like darkness before the approaching dawn. Even
the difficulties themselves, like Daphne before the Sun-
god, are apt to turn into flowers for our delectation.

The Sixth Resolution, that proposed by Dr Angus, and
supported by Professor Huxley, is the first that shows
any consciousness that there is a light to which we may
look for encouragement and guidance. " That instruc-
tion should be given in the Bible on the first principles of
morality and religion." According to our definition. Edu-
cation consists in the cultivation of the Intelligence and
the Moral Sense. This is the light on which the gaze
must be so steadily fixed, that no conflicting influences
shall be capable of diverting our attention. Interpreted
by it, the Bible itself bears witness to the way in which
it should be used. Here, in full accordance with it, is
one of its utterances, " God is no respecter of persons ;
but in every nation, he that feareth Him and worketh
righteousness, is accepted with Him." (Acts x. 34-5.)
Acting in this spirit, our School-boards will be no re-
specters of authors or books, but in every writing that,
and that only, " which feareth God and worketh righte-
ousness," shall be accepted by them. Here is another,



lo 'Jewish Literature

also on the positive side : "Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report ; if there be any
virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
(Phil. iv. 8.) And another seems to define that Scrip-
ture or writing, as alone given by a holy inspiration,
which " is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor-
rection, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Tim. iii. 16.)
And on the negative side we have " Refuse profane and
old wives' fables;" (1 Tim. iv. 7.) "not giving heed to
Jewish fables." (Titus i. 14.) "But all uncleanness let
it not be once named among you ;" " for it is a shame
even to speak of those things which are done of them in
secret." (Eph. v. 3, 12.) And one more on the posi-
tive side. " Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glonj of
God." (1 Cor. X. 31.)

Yet with these plain rules for our guidance, not one
of the resolutions proposes to place any restriction upon
the use of the Bible by the children. One, indeed, pro-
poses to exclude it bodily from the schools, the good and
the evil together, but upon grounds in no way connected
with its fitness for the perusal of youth. And even the
resolution finally accepted by the Board, while ambigu-
ously proposing " to give from the Bible such instruction
in the principles of religion and morality as is suitable
to the capacities of children," ventures on no protest
against the Bible as it now stands being put into the
hands of children at all.

The fact is, that the members have allowed themselves
to be so exclusively guided by the " winds" of popular
" doctrine," that they " have omitted the weightier mat-
ters of the law" of morality, and " passed over judgment
and the love of God."



and Modern Education. 1 1



IV.

The reason is not far to seek. A representative body-
would not be representative were any wide interval to
intervene between its own intelligence and attainments
and those of its constituents. The latter can be guided
in their selection only by the light they possess ; not by
that which they do not possess. Wherefore, for the
School-board to have passed any more radical Resolution
than that which it did pass, would have been for it to
have made itself, not the representative, but the inde-
pendent superior of the body which elected it. The
primary defect, therefore, lies with the people at large.
It is the vast amount of bigoted ignorance and supersti-
tion still remaining among us that constitutes the real
obstacle to any sound system of national education. It
is the elders who require to be instructed, before we can
begin to teach the children. It is true that a transition
has begun. But every step of the progress from the old
to the new, from darkness to light, is so vehemently
opposed by the vested interests of the dead past, that
the patience of those who believe in the possibility of
progress may well be exhausted, and their faith quenched
in despair.

To be effectual, therefore, remonstrance must be ad-
dressed to the people at large, rather than to their
representatives on the School-boards. The transition of
which I spoke as having already begun, is the transition
from a morality affecting to be based upon theology, to
a religion really based upon morality, and, consequently,
to a sound system of morality. This transition must
attain a far more advanced stage in its progress before
the School-board can even begin to carry out the Ke-



1 2 'Jewish Literature

solution it has passed. It is absolutely impossible to
" give from the Bible, instruction in the principles of
morality and religion suitable to children," until the
popular theory respecting the Bible, and the theology
based upon it, is so vastly modified as to amount to
an almost total renunciation of that theory. The ab-
solute and irreconcilable antagonism between what is
called Biblical Theology and the modern principles of
" Eeligion and Morality," cannot be too distinctly
asserted or loudly proclaimed, if we sincerely desire
our children to have an education really consisting in
the development of their intelligence and moral sense.

Valuing the Bible highly as I do, for very much
that is very valuable in it, it is no grateful task to have
to search out and expose the characteristics which
render it an unsuitable basis for the instruction of
children, whether in morality or in religion. Such ex-
posure, however, being indispensable to the solution of
the problem of our national education, to shrink from
it would be to abandon that problem as insoluble, that
education as impossible.

V.

Bearing always in mind our definition of the purpose
and method of education, namely the development of
the intelligence and moral sense by the inculcation of
" the true, the pure, and the honest," — bearing in mind
also the fundamental fact in human nature, that man's
view of Deity inevitably reacts upon himself, tending
to form him in the image of his own ideal, — it is self-
evident that to familiarise children with the imperfect
morality, the coarse manners and expressions, the rude



and Modern Education. 1 3

fables, and the degrading ideas of Deity, appertaining to
a people low in culture — such as were the Israelites —


1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryEdward MaitlandJewish literature and modern education: or, The use and misuse of the Bible in the schoolroom → online text (page 1 of 8)