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Bible Overview

Learn the overarching storyline of the Bible, overall narrative: creation, fall, reconciliation, response, consummation, and how the 66 books of the Bible fit into this. Briefly look at the authority of the Bible and the concept of genres.

Rationale

If we are to know about God, then God has to reveal himself to us. This is what the Bible is, God’s revelation of himself to us. However, this revelation has taken place in history and comes to us in the form of 66 books, 2 testaments, written over 1500 years and 40+ authors, and exhibiting a wide range of genres. Yet, tying it all together is an overarching narrative, making it one book, not many. To understand this revelation, students need to have a sense of the overall structure of the Bible and a clear grasp of the overarching narrative. This narrative may be summarised as:
  • Creation – all things created by God and created good
  • Fall – the entry of sin into the world and our personal involvement in this event, that is, we are all sinners
  • Redemption and Reconciliation – God chose a man, Abraham, whose descendants became a nation, through which God would reveal himself, and ultimately to whom God would sent his Son because he loved us. He did this to redeem us and reconcile us to himself. Beginning at Jerusalem this is the Gospel which is now for all nations.
  • Response – we are called on to respond to his call of reconciliation, and then, having been reconciled, called to live to the glory of God, loving God and loving others, and making disciples of all the nations
  • Consummation – all history is moving towards a final consummation when there will be a new heaven and a new earth and there will be no more sin

Key Concepts

  • The need for God to reveal himself to us
  • The Bible as that revelation, inspired by God, that produced by there activity of the Holy Spirit
  • The overarching narrative of the Bible : Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, Response, Consummation
  • The history, development and structure of the Bible, recognising the different styles of literature in the Bible
  • Christ is the key – everything points to Him or flows from Him
  • The place of the Bible in the life of Christians - why do they believe God is speaking to them

Scripture References

Luke 24:26-27 – where Jesus explains all of the Scriptures points to Him.
2 Tim 3:16,17 - the inspiration and use of the Bible
Psalm 1 - the place of the Bible in the life of a Christian
Psalm 119 all, but especially verses 11-12 - the place of the Bible in the life of a believer
Matthew 5:17-20 and John 10:35 - the attitude of Jesus towards the Bible
Matthew 4: 1-11 - the use of the Bible by Jesus
 
In considering the overall structure of the Bible, it would be good for students to read a small part of the each of the sections, not necessarily from each book. This would help them to understand the genre. Possible readings might include:
Old Testament
Pentateuch 
Genesis 1 and 3 - creation and fall
Genesis 12 - the call of Abraham
Exodus 1 - Israel in Egypt
Exodus 20 - the Ten Commandments
Leviticus 1 - ceremonial laws
History
Joshua 1 - the call to lead and be brave
Judges 2:11-23 - the theme of Judges
Ruth 1 - Ruth and Naomi
2 Kings 23:1-30 - the reforms of Josiah
Nehemiah 1 - his burden to rebuild Jerusalem
Poetry
Job 1 - Job
Psalm 84 - pilgrims going to worship the Lord
Proverbs 1 - the Fear of the Lord
Ecclesiastes 1 - all is vain
Prophecy
Isaiah 2 - the Mountain of the Lord
New Testament
Gospels
Matthew 5:1-12 - the Beatitudes
Matthew 26:30-46 - Peter’s betrayal predicted and praying in Gethsemane
History
Acts 10 - Peter and Cornelius
Letters
Romans 1- overview of the Gospel
Prophecy
Revelation 6, 21- the judgement of God and the New Heavens and the New Earth
 

Resources 

Free Resources

Great Overview of the Bible through its Covenant structure, in the form of a quick draw animated style presentation. See the website , The Bible Project, for many other videos on the Bible along the same line.

 

Overview of the Bible in Six Scenes

Matthias Media Overview of the Bible in 15 

Thoughts on how and the importance of reading the Bible

Series of articles on the theme of the Inspiration of the Bible - ranging from short to articles from theological journals

What is the Bible? - range of short articles on some of the key questions
God, The Bible and You - articles on the importance of the Bible
Why you need the Bible - article stressing the importance and nature of the Bible
Concise Old Testament Survey - brief survey of each book detailing themes, author and a few other point of interest, plus discussion of relationship between the Old and New testaments
Concise New Testament Survey - brief survey of each book detailing themes, author and a few other point of interest, plus discussion of relationship between the Old and New testaments
 
Bible Overview Graphics - Google search with a host of graphic Bible overview displays
 
YouTube Bible Overview videos examples:

Old Testament in 5 minutes, focuses on the main story line

Animated explanation of the Messiah, joins the OT with the coming of Jesus

Old Testament in 8 minutes - focuses more on the specific books of the OT and how they fit together

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ - free website with a wide range of audio and video resources

Bible Overview worksheets - Jen Green:

Commercial Resources

 

Matthias Media: The Bible Overview, by Matt Malcolm - commercial site; overview which emphasises the overarching plan which links the 66 books into one book

Henrietta Mears: What the Bible is all about - Amazon site; focuses on the key themes of each book and sections, very easy to read

Gordon Fee: Reading the Bible for all its worth - Amazon site; focuses on the different genres of the various books and how this affects the way we read and understand them

According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy - Amazon site; brings together the overarching plan of the Bible at a slightly deeper level

 

Ideas/Strategies for Lessons

Discuss central question: How can we know about God? And, why do we believe the Bible is God speaking to us?
Get students to read the Bible – because God speaks through it. Read selections from the many different genres so they can get a feel
Create a brainstorm on Padlet.com, or similar, to find out what students already know about the Bible, then brainstorm what they want to know about the Bible? Generate research questions from these.
View overview videos or graphics to get the big picture, use as a discussion point
Look at some of the animated overviews and try to create their own
Create a visual timeline in the class of the stories they already know and seeing if they can fit them in between creation, birth of Jesus and end of the world.

Create a visual representation of the overview of the Bible. Students could have personal choice (or work in teams) of the representation style, e.g. digital, model, art, performance, cartoon, etc. Different teams could be given different parts of the Bible to represent – and then they all share to each other.

Create class maps and timelines of the Bible – and link it to other historical events.

Create puppet shows on Bible stories to present to younger children.

Create board games about parts of the Bible for primary school students to play.

Create a music playlist to cover the overview of the Bible from songs you know or can find. If there are parts of the Bible you can’t find songs for, write lyrics or melodies to fit to text from the Bible.

Create a Prezi or Microsoft Powerpoint show to represent the overview of the Bible covering:

 

1. Creation and Adam and Eve

2. Genesis 4-11

  • Cain and Abel
  • Flood (Noah)
  • Tower of Babel

3. Patriarchs

  • Abrahamic covenant
  • Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Jacob's deceit
  • Joseph in Egypt

4. Exodus

  • burning bush
  • plagues etc.

5. Judges/Kings/Prophets

  • disobedience, discipline, repentance, restoration
  • Gideon
  • Samson
  • Samuel
  • Saul
  • David
  • Solomon
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah

6. Exile, Return

7. Christ in the Gospels - birth, ministry, death, resurrection

8. Apostles, Church 

9. The judgement of God and the new Heaven and the new Earth