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Home Up How to study Applied Literacy



·        There are many definitions for literacy widely used today and the term is being defined and redefined as new fields of study open up.  So, finding a standard definition can be a challenge.


·        The standard definition given in dictionaries primarily focus on one’s ability to read and write; however, this definition is too limited to include the variety of activities that the Biblically literate end up doing.


·        It is understood that Cicero defined literacy as being well educated; however, this definition is too open ending, though it offers a limited understanding to the term since it describes a person’s condition (being well educated).


·        Sometimes literacy refers to specific information that is common to a certain field of study (i.e. mathematical literacy, scientific literacy, etc.) along with the skills one must attain to achieve the particular literacy.


·        It is also the common notion that being literate refers to the ability to handle certain kinds of content.  For instance, a common idea of Biblical literacy promoted today focuses on one’s ability to handle Biblical facts, numbers, locations, names, etc.  This notion is also too limited since learning involves more than just mere facts.  Literacy involves a wide variety of levels in thinking. 


·        So, if one were to take the definition of Cicero, which speaks of being well educated (the condition of literacy) and the common definition from dictionaries that speaks to how one achieves the literate condition (through reading & writing), then a general definition can be developed for Biblical literacy.


·        Here’s a definition for Biblical literacy that addresses both the condition of being literate and the method for achieving literacy:


“Biblical literacy is the ability and willingness to use reading, listening, speaking and writing to understand the word of God and be understood by others.”

  Source: Richard L. Venezky, Daniel A. Wagner, Barrie S. Ciliberti, eds. Toward Defining Literacy. International Reading Association, 1990.

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