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Bible Study in the Context of an Academic Class

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Bible Study in the Context of an Academic Class

This year I began teaching Bible as an academic subject at the Christian Academy where I teach. I've had plenty of experience preaching and leading Bible studies, but teaching Bible as an academic subject with homework, tests, and grades was a whole new idea for me.

Over the course of the year, I used several different techniques to help train the teenagers in studying the Bible for themselves, rather than being spoon-fed by an adult. These techniques moved from simple (and very "guided") to more complicated (and independent).

Answering Questions
This was the most directed approach to study. For the passage to be studied, I would write a series of questions which the students had to answer through reading the passage. The questions would range from very concrete (e.g., "Where was Jesus going in this passage?") to abstract (e.g., "What did Jesus mean when He spoke about the 'Bread of Life'?"). Purpose: Students can find specific information, and evaluate meaning of passages.

In Your Own Words
Students were assigned a passage of scripture, and were instructed to put the passage "in their own words." This required the students to be very detailed, and not leave out any sentences or phrases. Purpose: Students can explain the meaning of an entire section of scripture.

News Article
Students were assigned a passage of scripture, and were instructed to imagine that they were a news reporter on the scene, describing the events. This was similar to "In Your Own Words," with one major difference: students are permitted to leave out details in favor of succinctly presenting the overall story. Purpose: Students begin to look at the "big picture" of a scripture passage.

Interview
Students were split into pairs. One partner was the news reporter, the other was a "character" in the Bible passage (e.g., Martha, in John 11). The interviewer asked questions, and the interviewee gave answers. The interviewer was not required to ask questions that could be answered directly from the passage, which forced the other partner to imagine the feelings/actions of characters in the story. Then the students would swap roles. Purpose: Students begin to engage their imaginations in order to gain a better appreciation of the times, culture, and events of scripture.

Looking for Themes
This was the least "directed" approach. Students would be assigned a scripture passage, and instructed to look for ideas that were repeated throughout the passage. For example, in John 15 you find the themes of "abiding" and "bearing fruit," as well as others. Students then choose a theme, and write out (in their own words) sections that pertain to that theme. Once they have done this, they finish by taking all of their statements they've written an compiling it all into one sentence or paragraph. This paragraph is their summary of a theme within a given passage. Purpose: Students will be able to go beyond the meanings of individual verses, and see how they work together to create a cohesive whole.
Lesson by Mr. Twitchell

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