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It preserved their identity as a people, inspired their worship, arranged their calendar, permeated their family lives; it shaped their ideals, sustained them in persecution, and touched their intellects.Whatever Jewish talent and genius have contributed to Western civilization is due in no small degree to the influence of the Bible.The Hebrew myths of creation have superseded the racial mythologies of Latin, Germanic, Slavonic, and all other Western peoples.This is not because they contain historically factual information or scientifically adequate accounts of the universe, the beginning of life, or any other subject of knowledge, but because they furnish a profoundly theological interpretation of the universe and human existence, an intellectual framework of reality large enough to make room for developing philosophies and sciences.For the cultural and historical contexts in which this literature developed, , respectively, the Hebrew people outlived defeat, captivity, and the loss of their national independence, largely because they possessed writings that preserved their history and traditions.Many of them did not return to Palestine after their exile.The Covenant people ( the Hebrews in the Old Testament and Christians in the New Testament) are chosen not to enjoy special privileges but to serve God’s will toward all nations.The individual’s sacred rights condemn his abuse, exploitation, or neglect by the rich and powerful or by society itself.

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The Genesis stories of prehistoric events and people are a conspicuous example.The survival of the Jewish religion and its subsequent incalculable influence in the history of Western culture are difficult to explain without acknowledgment of the importance of the biblical writings.When the Temple in ), the historical, priestly sacrificial worship centred in it came to an end and was never resumed.God’s existence as a speculative problem has no interest for the biblical writers.

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What is problematical for them is the human condition and destiny before God.This field of scholarship, including exegesis (critical interpretation) and hermeneutics (the science of interpretive principles), has assumed an important place in the theologies of Judaism and Christianity.