Teaching HomeSchoolers How to Really Read the Bible
by Mimi Rothschild 11/30/2011 / Education
To read the Bible, it helps homeschoolers to have a plan on how you are going to get through it. A consecutive plan gathers up the fragments of time into a strong whole. Get a good plan, and stick to it. Better a fairly good plan faithfully followed, than the best plan if used brokenly or only occasionally. Probably all the various methods of bible study homeschoolers have tried may be grouped under three general heads, wide reading, topical study, and textual.
Textual Bible Study
We all do some textual study in a more or less small way. Digging into a sentence or verse to get at its true and deep meaning is an example of textual study. We all do some topical study probably. Gathering up statements on one subject and studying a character is an example of textual bible study. The more pretentious name is Biblical Theology, finding and arranging all that is taught in the whole range of the Bible on any one theme.
But I want especially to urge wide reading. It is the method of all for all. It underlies all methods of getting a grasp of this wonderful Book, and so coming to as full and rounded an understanding of God as is possible to men down here.
By wide reading is meant a rapid reading through regardless of verse, chapter, or book divisions. Reading it as a narrative or as a story as you would read any book to find out the story told, and be able to tell to another. There will be an inspiration with this book as no other inspires, but with the same intellectual method of running through to see what is here. No book is so fascinating as the Bible when read this way. The revised version is greatly to be preferred here simply because it is a paragraph version. It is printed more like other books.
For example, have your homeschool student begin at the first of Genesis, and read rapidly through by the page. Do not try to understand all. You will not. Never mind that now. Just push on. Do not try to remember it all. Do not think about that. Let stick to you what will. You will be surprised to find how much will. You may read ten or twelve pages in your first half hour. Next time start in where you left off. You may get through Genesis in three or four times, or less or more, depending on your mood, and how fast your habit of reading may be. You will find a whole Bible in Genesis. A wonderfully fascinating book this Genesis. For love stories, plotting, swift action, beautiful language it more than matches the popular novel.
But do not let your homeschooler stop at the close of Genesis. Push them on into Exodus. The connection is immediate. It is the same book. And so on into Leviticus. Now do not try to understand Leviticus the first time. You will not the hundredth time perhaps. But you can easily group its contents: these chapters tell of the offerings: these of the law of offerings: here is an incident put in: here sanitary regulations: get the drift of the book. And in it all be getting the picture of Godthat is the one point. And so on through.
A second stage of this wide reading is fitting together the parts. You know the arrangement of our Bible is not chronological wholly, but topical. For example, ask your homeschooler to open the Bible to the close of Esther, and again at the close of Malachi. This from Genesis to Esther we all know is the historical section: and this second section the poetical and prophetical section. There is some history in the prophecy, and some prophecy and poetry in the historical part. But in the main this first is historical, and this second poetry and prophecy. These two parts belong together. This first section was not written, and then this second. The second belongs in between the leaves of the first. It was taken out and put by itself because the arrangement of the whole Book is topical rather than chronological.
Now the second stage of wide reading is this: fit these parts together. Fit the poetry and the prophecy into the history. Do it on your own account, as though it had never been done. It has been done much better than you will do it. And your homeschool student will make some mistakes. You can check those up afterwards. And you cannot tell where some parts belong. But meanwhile the thing to note is this: you are absorbing the Book. It is becoming a part of you, bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh, mentally, and spiritually. You are drinking in its spirit in huge draughts. There is coming a new vision of God, which will transform radically the reverent homeschooling student. In it all seek to acquire the historical sense. That is, put yourself back and see what this thing, or this, meant to these men, as it was first spoken, under these immediate circumstances.
And so encourage your homeschooler on into the New Testament. Do not try so much to fit the four gospels into one connected story, dovetailing all the parts; but try rather to get a clear grasp of Jesus' movements those few years as told by these four men. Fit Paul's letters into the book of Acts, the best you can.
You see at once that this is a Bible homeschooling method not for a month, nor for a year, but for years. The topical and textual study grow naturally out of it. And meanwhile you are getting an intelligent grasp of this wondrous classic, you are absorbing the finest literature in the English tongue, and infinitely better yet, you are breathing into your Christian homeschooler a new, deep, broad, tender conception of God.
Mimi Rothschild is the co-founder of Learning By Grace (http://www.LearningbyGrace.org) a Christian ministry that offers Online HomeSchooling Programs for PreK-12.
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