On April 21, Bishop John Chew Hiang Chea, the retired 8th archbishop of Singaporean Anglican bishop, introduced the Bible under the overall background-"ancient civilizations" in his lecture held in the Amity Foundation, Nanjing.
The lecture began with the dialogue between Qu Yuan, a patriotic minister and a tragedic figure by taking himself under the river for his country and the prophet Jeremiah, who bought a land by faith for his perishing nation. They both encountered the sufferings of their countries living in the Axial Age (it refers to the period of ancient history during the 8th to 2nd centuries BC).
Bishop John Chew is one of the intiators who launched an institution called "Wen Tian" founded in the church of Singapore, aiming to promote the mutual communication of different ancient civilizations through rehearsing the performance of two heroes' dialogue.
Bishop Chew showed how to view the Biblical civilization, Christian civilization and Chinese civilization from the perspectives of ancient Egyptian civilization and ancient Mesopotamian civilization.
He added, since outstanding ideologists existed in every civilization, the culture of China, India, the Middle East and Greece has a lot of similarities although there are thousands of miles among these countries.
He also said that actually the Hebrew civilization was closely connected with ancient Egyptian civilization and ancient Mesopotamian civilization while the Bible records the history of Israelites. The Israelite civilization covers the culture of a great many ethnic groups from Greeks to Romans, where different civilizations become reconciled and promoted each other in the blending.
Therefore, the Bible should be interpreted under a larger background.
John Chew was the third Metropolitan Archbishop and Primate of the Province of Anglican Church in South East Asia as well as Bishop of Singapore. He retired as the 8th Bishop of Singapore on 4 October 2012. He was succeeded by the Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah.