By Glen Pemberton


A - Answer for a suggested question

BCE - Before Christian Era

c.- Circa (approximately)

CEV - Contemporary English Version

ERV - Easy to Read Version

KJV - King James Version

NIV - New International Version

Q - Suggested question to ask the class


Gen Genesis
Exod Exodus
Lev Leviticus
Num Numbers
Deut Deuteronomy
Josh Joshua
Judg Judges
Ruth Ruth
I Sam 1 Samuel
I Sam 2 Samuel
I Kgs 1 Kings
II Kgs 2 kings
I Chr 1 Chronicles
II Chr 2 Chronicles
Ezra Ezra
Neh Nehemiah
Esth Esther
Job  Jobs
Ps Psalms
Prov Proverbs
Eccl Ecclesiastes
Song Song of Solomon
Isa Isaiah 
Jer Jeremiah
Lam Lamentations
Ezek Ezekiel
Joel Joel
Am Amos
Ob Obadiah
Jon Jonah
Mic Micah
Nah Nahum
Hab Habakuk
Zeph Zephaniah
Hag Haggai
Zech Zechariah
Mal Malachi

Introduction to the Story of the Old Testament

Teach the story of the Old Testament in one quarter, thirteen lessons, fortyfive minutes per lesson. Your reaction is likely the same as mine when I accepted this assignment. To say the very least this is an ambitious project. To say more requires such words as crazy, impossible, and perhaps even wrong-headed. So, I begin with an apology – in both senses of the word: a defense for the course and an appeal for mercy. The title of this course suggests its content: The Story of the Old Testament. Consequently, the curriculum omits much of the richest and most treasured portions of the Old Testament. Only a handful of prophets garner any attention here (and this is minimal). But, the prophets fare better than the sages and psalmists of Israel; wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes) and Psalms receive no attention in this survey. Further, most of what has been included in this study has been radically simplified. My only defense for this myopic approach is that the fundamental goal of this course is a concise presentation of the storyline of the Old Testament in an attempt to build a foundation for further study. My hope is that an adequate presentation of the big picture will be sufficiently enticing to draw the student into a greater dialogue with this often-neglected three-quarters of the Christian Bible. “Each of the thirteen lessons contains more material than can be covered in a typical Sunday morning or Wednesday night High School class.” This observation has been a common refrain from those testing the curriculum as well as an insistence that no more material should be omitted.

Consequently, the teacher must decide which elements of the curriculum to stress and which may be quickly summarized based on the needs of his or her students. My only plea is that the teacher not sacrifice the relevance of this material (application) in an attempt to cover the story in greater detail. The significance of the Story of the Old Testament is in its relevance for the life of faith, whether Jewish or Christian. If students miss this relevance, we have done them a grave disservice. Paul wrote, specifically about the Old Testament, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (II Tim 3:16-17). So, while this course focuses on the storyline of the Old Testament and contains far more material than can be covered, the teacher should consistently stress the relevance of this story for Christian life and practice. To this end, each lesson concludes with a section on Application. The placement of this section does not suggest its importance or its necessary order in the lesson. The teacher may choose to discuss applications only at the end of the lesson, but addressing these topics as they naturally arise in the course of class discussion would be much better. For each lesson, there is a teacher’s guide that includes class objectives, necessary class preparations, special notes to the teacher, and a complete lesson plan. A short bibliography of additional resources for the teacher is also available.

For the student, in-class study sheets and class outlines are available. In-class study sheets should be distributed at the beginning of each class, class outlines at the end. The course will have a more lasting value if the students build a notebook for the course with these and other materials (e.g., maps). If the church could provide attractive notebooks for the students, this would be a good encouragement to start the process (an attractive cover for this notebook is also available for down-loading). Urge the students to keep these notebooks and continue to add ma terials to them in the future. Some teachers may want to push their students above and beyond the typical boundaries of a Sunday or Wednesday evening study. For these teachers and students each lesson contains a short reading assignment for the next week. Obviously, if students read before class the class time will be much more productive. Thus, the teacher might want to consider some creative ways to encourage reading the assignment (e.g., coupons to a local fast food chain). Teachers may also want to develop short weekly quizzes that cover the key points stressed in the preceding lesson. Students who compile a notebook, complete each reading assignment, and have a passing average on the weekly quizzes should be presented with a certificate from the church and the North Institute (also available for down-loading and modification). I recommend presenting this certificate in the most public arena possible (perhaps during or after one of the church assemblies). Such recognition would encourage the student and other students to greater learning. Finally, this project could not have been completed without the assistance of many people. First, my thanks to John Willis and David Petersen, my mentors in the study of the Old Testament. Those who have sat at the feet of either of these gifted men will notice their obvious influence on my thinking. Second, my thanks to Danny Snell (West Erwin church in Tyler, Tx) and Chris Newton (Mountain View Church in Buena Vista, Co) for testing this material and offering valuable corrections and suggestions. One very nice thing about an Internet based curriculum is the ease with which it may be edited or revised. Consequently, your suggestions for forthcoming revisions are welcomed.

Glenn D. Pemberton, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Old Testament Oklahoma Christian University

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