How Does The Bible Influence Society?

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The Bible is a book like no other. The sacred text can arguably be considered the most influential book ever published.

“The influence of the Bible is worldwide,” wrote Arthur Pink, the Christian evangelist. “Its mighty power has affected every department of human activity. The contents of the Scriptures have supplied themes for the greatest poets, artists and musicians which the world has yet produced, and have been the mightiest factor of all in shaping the moral progress of the race.”

The Bible – a worldwide bestseller

The Bible is influential because it is the world’s bestselling book, breaking all records known to man. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, since 1815 the Bible has sold approximately 2.5 billion copies and has been translated into more than 2,200 languages or dialects.

The Bible’s influence is not limited to Christians; Jews and Muslims also consider the Bible to be a sacred text.

The Bible’s influence is not limited to Christians; Jews and Muslims also consider the Bible to be a sacred text. If you think of how there are 2 billion Christians, 14 million Jews and 1.3 billion Muslims, that means that more than half of the world’s population consider the Bible to be a major influence on their faith.

Bible widely used in American society

The Bible is especially influential in American society. In the 2012 State of the Bible report released by the American Bible Society, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research, it was found that in America, 85% of households own a Bible. Most families own more than one Bible, with a household average of 4.3 Bibles. The survey found that the majority of Americans (69%) believe the Bible provides answers on how to live a meaningful life.

In a poll conduced by Comres, the survey asked people how important knowledge of the Bible is for appreciating culture, history and politics. On the whole, people think it is significant, with nearly half of people believing it is important for the visual arts, literature and history.

The influence of the Bible on society has been important throughout history. As the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote,

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

Influence of the Bible on language and culture

The Bible has influenced our society through its impact on our language, on the words we use. Over 22,000 English words have their root in Hebrew. That’s more than the roots of Greek, Latin, and French.

Language

The Bible is quoted more often than any other piece of literature in history and has had more influence on our language, culture, and laws than any other book or idea ever published. A recent book by the linguist David Crystal, appropriately called Begat: The King James Bible and the English language, counts 257 phrases from the King James Bible in contemporary English idiom. Some of the phrases from the Bible that has become part of our everyday language include:

Gave up the ghost ~ Genesis 35:29

Out of the mouth of babes ~ Psalms 8:2

Put words in thy mouth ~ Jeremiah 1:9

Feet of clay ~ Daniel 2:33

Salt of the earth ~ Matthew 5:13

Fought the good fight ~ 2 Timothy 4:7

Turned the world upside down ~ Acts 17:6

God forbid ~ Romans 3:4

Take root ~ 2 Kings 19:30

The powers that be ~ Romans 13:1

Filthy lucre ~ 1 Timothy 3:3

No peace for the wicked ~ Isaiah 57: 21

A fly in the ointment ~ Ecclesiastes 10:1

Wheels within wheels ~ Ezekiel 10:10

The blind leading the blind ~ Matthew 15:13

Feet of clay ~ Daniel 2:33

Famous men have praised the Bible’s influence on society. Tennyson considered Bible reading “an education in itself”, while Dickens called the New Testament “the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”

The US statesman Daniel Webster said:

“If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures.”

Equally celebrated as a British orator, TB Macaulay said that the Bible demonstrated “the whole extent of the beauty and power” of the English language.

The Bible and American literature

The novels that have had the most impact on American literature have strong biblical influences. These classics include: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, 
Moby Dick by Herman Melville and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the much-read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the book contains almost 100 quotations or direct references from the Bible.

The Bible and film

Film is a highly popular medium in society all over the world and the Bible has influenced society through films that have biblical references. Some of the great films with biblical themes include: The Ten Commandments, 
The Passion of the Christ,
 Bruce Almighty, 
Pulp Fiction, 
Armageddon,
 The Chronicles of Narnia, 
The Lord of the Rings,
 The Prince of Egypt,
 The Matrix,
 Chariots of Fire and 
The Exorcist.

The Bible and art

The Bible has also influenced society by its presence in the great art throughout history.

If you visit the great museums in Europe and America, like the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you’ll find many paintings whose subjects are inspired by the Bible.

Famous biblical art include Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper and his statue of David. The Sistine Chapel in Italy is famous for its ceiling painted by Michelangelo which is bursting with beauty from biblical scenes. In the Tate Museum in London, you’ll find engravings by William Blake on the Book of Job. Botticelli delights with his painting on the Adoration of the Magi at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. The painting of David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio is also well known.

The Bible: laws and morality

In societies like America where the Bible is widely read, this sacred book is highly influential, becoming the foundation of morality in society. For example, in America, the Constitution and the rules and laws that govern society have their roots in the Bible, through moral codes like the Ten Commandments.

Great American leaders have also spoken about the importance of the Bible in establishing morality in society.

“I have always said, I always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
– Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States.

And Jefferson wasn’t the only early U.S. president who felt this way:

“So great is my veneration for the Bible, that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens to their country and respectable members of society.”
– John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 6th President of the United States.

In conclusion, we can see that the Bible has an enormous influence on society through its presence in culture. Biblical allusions can be found in the major works of art, fiction and poetry, music and films. Through the prevalence in both high culture and pop culture, the Bible influences society with its teachings. The Bible is indeed a highly influential book, impacting society on many levels.

Guest post by Hwee Hwee Tan

Hwee Hwee Tan is an award-winning author who has published two Christian books with Penguin. She has a Masters in English Literature from the University of Oxford and a MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Her work has won awards from the New York Times Foundation and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  You can read more about her work at her Christian blog – Hwee Hwee Tan | Insights on Christian Living – which is updated weekly.



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Excellent article.
The Bible is truly a wonderful book that has done more to influence this planet than any other book, but consider its Author. Thanks for a wonderful look at the Word of God.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Hwee Hwee Tan August 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thanks for your kind words Robert, glad you liked the article. I had a very enjoyable time researching the article and was struck by God’s power in his way He has influenced our world through His word.

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Doug Groothuis August 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Can you please email me? I have a question.

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Hwee Hwee Tan August 24, 2012 at 1:05 am

Sure, I can email you. What is your email?

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Rayna Sharpe August 23, 2012 at 3:52 am

I would like the exact scriptures where the bible talks about marriage and becoming one with your spouse. My husband is in the hospital and almost died and has a dry bad a anurism and his parents are treating me like I’m not in the family. You can’t talk to them so what do I do. I want and need to make decisions for my husband. Thanks. Rayna

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Robert August 23, 2012 at 7:09 am

Rayna,
Here are the explicit Scriptures you asked for. Trust God in this matter and He will see you through.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 ESV).

“He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”” (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV) Also see Mark 10:7.

Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Josh August 23, 2012 at 7:23 am

Great article! Very well researched and written. Thank you so much for Guest posting at WCWTK.

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Mr A Cotton August 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I was on a Jewish site just the other day,and they have four tasks that Jesus did not accomplish. That`s why they don`t believe in Jesus. He had to fore-fill the prophecy`s (Which they said Jesus did not do) To rebuild the temple in jerusalem,and two other`s. They have the Torah,and they seem to have the bible has well. If i was a none believer i would think that this, the Jew`s are making demands of a God, to do this is an insult to God. The Bible has not changed the Jewish stance,just the Torah.

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Pamela Rose Williams August 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Hello Mr. Cotton,
The Torah is the first 5 books of the Old Testament (also known as the Pentateuch). They also have the rest of the Old Testament: 8 books of the prophets (called Neviim), and the other 11 books of writings (called Kesuvim). the Jewish people do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah because they have been blinded from the truth because they rejected the Gospel of Grace (John 12:40; Acrs 9:15; 22:21; 26:15-18; Romans 11:15-17; Gal 1:15-16).

The Jews simply do not believe because they are unable to see it as the non-Jews (Gentiles) are able to see.

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Mr A Cotton August 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

I am getting a bit like doubting Thomas. I have just packed the Catholic Church in,because some thing very profound happened to me. I ended up on this site,and i am getting really upset(I have just broken down)I am mentally house bound. I ended up on YouTube,and that 3 million jews heard God speak on mount Sinai(I already new this)and i have read in the bible that it was an angel of God called Yahweh,but not God. Jesus said to the Pharisee`s i came into the world to give sight to those who cannot see,and to take away sight to those who can.If you were blind you would be without sin,but since you say we see your sin remains.This is a fact Jesus never said the word “Messiah” in the bible. They have quote`s has well,like you have just mentioned.I can`t believe that Jew`s did not recognise Jesus. There were some films mentioned above,but there is one called “Jesus Of Nazareth” which was a six part series made in England. I would like to see it on this site,because it`s very powerful.There is also a documentary called Who Wrote The BiBle over a hour long and the link is. http://video.google.com/videoplay this guy goes in search on who really wrote the bible. Thanks for your answer.

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Robert August 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Hi Mr. A Cotton,
One must be very careful what one watches on YouTube. Along with the good material, every kind of lie and deception can be found there. God bless you, sir.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Mr A Cotton August 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thanks for your concern Robert,i already know this. I am trying to expose the Dimond Brother`s who say they are St Benedictine Monks which they are not,because they conned a man out of his money.This went to court,and they won,because they hid behind the first amendment of the USA.They have blocked me on YouTube from there site,but i can still get at them using Catholic Exodus. A prominent man called John Salza he responds to their lies,Errors,and Hypocrisies,he too has challenged them,because they have publicly insulted him. The Illuminati his also rubbish. The Free Masons you have to careful with these guys.Again thanks for your concern Robert.

Mr A Cotton August 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

The link to this video does not work. I don`t know why.
I have it bookmarked maybe thats why?
I will get back to you on this topic,because it might only show in the search term i typed in.

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Mr A Cotton August 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

It`s under the search term “Who Wrote The Bible” with Google.

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Jack Wellman August 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Sir, let me recommend two articles that will cast out the “Thomas” in all of us. One is How Do We Know the Bible is True: Is it Really the Word of God?”

https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-true-is-it-really-the-word-of-god/

And, What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Reasons that they are Important

https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-are-the-dead-sea-scrolls-the-reasons-they-are-important/

I believe these two short articles will see the veracity of the Bible and that the Word of God is fully inerrant. Let me know what you think Mr. Cotton.

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Jack Wellman August 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Hwee Hwee Tan, I also agree with Robert and Josh…this is simply a remarkable work…and yes, I agree, the world is much better off with this book. It has been credited with ending slavery, elevating the status of women (rightly so), and reducing prejudice like no other single work of mankind in all of human history. Sterling work and I thank you and I thank God for you.

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Mr A Cotton August 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

When i watched this documentary the guy gathered all the facts together. He went to jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls,and it was fascinating. One big controversy, this upset the Muslims that Muhammad wan`t mentioned in the bible. He was mentioned in the bible. It had to be translated, this is where it is misinterpreted. This is what really annoys me when people use quotes from the bible. The Jewish site gave me quotes in the bible,and then another religion they used quotes back. The quotes they both use are in the bible,so who is right or one could be misinterpreted? These people are scholars of the bible. I find that this is a big mystery about this.

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Derek Hill August 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

This was very enlightening! Thank you for a well thought presentation of the greatest book of all time! Your knowledge is deep and I know that I was blessed through reading this!

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Hwee Hwee Tan August 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Thanks for your compliment – glad you enjoyed the post! Keep reading the Bible and let it influence your life like the way it impacted society!

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Janelle January 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Hello, I’m doing a project in my U.S. History class on how the Bible was a turning point in our world’s history (I was pretty surprised that my teacher accepted the idea actually).
This is my topic : Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. I chose the Bible. MY topic: The Bible’s impact on our history.
I was wanting to ask if you had any ideas for me to go on for this project. I’m not asking about the Bible itself, just its influence and impact in our history and how it may have majorly effected certain events.
My ideas so far is the Bible’s influence on human morality, its role in the growth of civilizations, how it shaped the construction of our world. If you could share anything imparticular it will be GREATLY appreicated. I’ve been trying to explore religion more (I guess my faith is “undecided”) and figured using this topic for my project could be a start. So thank you very much if you have any information to share.

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Sophie Yeo May 27, 2013 at 4:13 am

thanks for this article! I’m doing a speech about whether the bible is the most influential book in the world and this really helped. This article was so well researched and was very helpful. 🙂

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Olatunji Emmanuel June 9, 2015 at 5:29 am

how can i described bible is it a literature book

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