A Bedouin teacher and a group of IDF soldiers are in the running to become Israel’s first Bible champion in nearly 30 years.
Shadi Abu Ara, who teaches Hebrew literature to Arab schoolchildren, has his entire class behind him as he attempts to win first place in the Israeli contest.
If he emerges as the winner at the competition in December, he would go on to compete in the international championship in 2011.
First he must be one of 14 biblical brainboxes to make it through the regional heats. So far more than 1600 people have registered to compete in seven initial rounds, with one qualifier reserved for IDF soldiers.
The last national Bible Contest for adults was in 1981, although a youth version took place this year.
Mr Arar has faced accusations from members of the Bedouin community that he is denying the Koran in his quest to become Bible champion. But he said there are “many common points between the Bible and the Koran” that he was doing it out of “firm belief”.
“I told them that historically the Bible is the first book, which cannot be denied."
“The Ten Commandments, for instance, also appear in the Koran. “
Mr Arar said he has been interested in the Bible since he was a child.
"As someone who endorses co-existence between Jews and Arabs I think that everyone should get to know the other's culture and holy writings."