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.
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).
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.”
Some information from source: Richard L. Venezky, Daniel A. Wagner & Barrie S.Ciliberti eds, Toward Defining Literacy. International Reading Association, 1990.
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