Fostering Love for the Bible

March 31, 2010

by: Charleeda Sprinkle, Assistant Editor

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In an interview published earlier, his father admitted that he and his son often read the Bible together. On his mother’s side, three of his uncles have participated in the Bible quiz, and his grandfather is a veteran Bible teacher in Israel and author of a Bible quiz textbook. Avner was announced as the hatan (bridgegroom) and given a certificate. Why hatan? It is a fitting term that speaks of the love relationship the Jewish people have for the Bible. They love the Bible as a bridegroom loves his beloved. Though awarded a great win, Avner must compete at the national level, followed by the international.

The International Bible Quiz

The International Bible Quiz is traditionally held on Independence Day in May and is introduced by the prime minister and broadcast nationwide on radio and television. It is jointly run by the army and Israel’s Department of Education. The only prerequisite for entry is that the contestant is Jewish. Secular, as well as religious, young people participate. Last year, 47 finalists represented 27 countries. Jewish Agency representatives in each country organize the regional and national contests. Some questions asked are “Who said to whom?” or “Who is this talking about?” as well as finishing phrases and questions about family trees.

After arriving in Israel, they attend a Bible camp, during which they tour Israel, meet dignitaries, participate in a youth military program, and study Tanach (Genesis to Malachi). The contest covers around 400 chapters. The initial test is written, consisting of 50 questions. From there, the top 16 compete in the final quiz. However, since Israelis most often win, a separate contest is held for non-Israelis. The winner receives a four-year scholarship to Jerusalem’s Bar Ilan University.

It was Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, who founded the quiz, and originally, it was for adults. Neriya Pinchas has the questions for the quiz since 1987. He was first recognized for his abilities at age 21, when he took first place in the Bible quiz for the army. At 22, he started writing the questions for Israel’s national contest, and at 24, he was chosen to write for the international quiz.

The goals for the quiz are: (1) to expand the circle of Tanach devotees and bring them closer to the Jewish heritage, the Jewish nation, and the Jewish homeland, (2) to foster the educational values found in the Bible, such as faith and hope in God, (3) to get better acquainted with the Hebrew language, and (4) to bring together Jewish teenagers from all circles and backgrounds in Israel and the world. These were reflected in a speech made by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, when he addressed the contestants, “I must tell all the participants in the quiz that the real prize at the Bible quiz is not the title. The real prize is your association through the Bible with Jewish history, with your fellow people, the Jewish people, and with the State of Israel, the nation of the Jewish people…”

One Jewish Web site, discussing the quiz, defined the Bible beautifully as “the birth certificate and identity card of the Jewish people.” May the Jewish people’s love for the Bible, as evidenced through this quiz, be fostered in Christians as well.

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