“For Miller, history was fundamentally ironic. Victory and achievement produce disappointment and disaster; progress results from causes other than one’s own intentions; and no advance is finally secure since all growth contains within it the seeds of a new and possibly more catastrophic decline. As the historian Henry May once summarized, “His works on Puritanism all illustrate the slogan that nothing fails like success.”
Peterson makes no truth claims about the Bible, whether it is divinely inspired or accurately conveys historic events. In fact, he explicitly states on his website that the Bible is neither history nor empirical science. Rather, he unpacks the Bible as a guide to understanding Western cultural thought.
For example, Peterson’s lecture about the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve focuses not on whether such events occurred or their religious significance but rather on the story as a metaphor of the battle between chaos and order. Further, Peterson lectures extensively about the symbolic meaning of sacrifice in the Bible and its connection to the discovery of the future.
Peterson’s biblical lecture series would, I believe, pass the Supreme Court’s test as a constitutionally appropriate course of instruction in public high schools. His approach of the biblical narrative from a purely secular point of view does not encourage anyone to believe, or not, the stories as materially true.
Surely there is a better way! The above approach is not objective. To say that the Bible is not history ignores all the evidence that it is accurate in every detail. “Western cultural thought” based upon the Bible took for granted the historicity of the Bible account. Can one not say at least that the Bible presents itself as an accurate record of God’s working in history?
Review: “In his illuminating Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers, Daniel L. Dreisbach shows how early Americans used the Bible both as an intellectual sourcebook and as a tool for moral instruction. He thinks ‘the Bible was the most authoritative, accessible, and familiar book in eighteenth-century America.’”