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II. THE BIBLE
A. Read Genesis 12–33, 37, 39–50; Exodus 1-20; idges 1-16; I Samuel; II Samuel 1-8; Ruth; Esther; Amos; Jonah; Proverbs; Daniel 1-6; two of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke; John; Acts; Philippians.
These books to be read, not a chapter a day, but, so far as possible, each at a sitting, with attention to their contents and to the purpose of the book as a whole.
B. Study one of the following:
Genesis 12–33, 39–50; I Samuel; one of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark or Luke; John; Acts; or Philippians and Ephesians. Master the contents, till you know of what each chapter treats. Be able to locate by chapters each story, important saying, or line of argument. For example, if you are studying Acts, be able to tell what chapters contain the story of Paul's conversion. Write an outline of the book. Be able to tell to a class its stories or to state in your own words the main thought of any passage, as Samuel's speech in I Samuel 12, or Paul's pleas for lowliness because Christ was lowly, in Phil. 2: 1-11. to find the writer's purpose in the book. Get the great religious ideas of the book; see how they can be applied to the life of today and whether they must be changed in any respect from the way the author wished to apply them in his day. Look up the geography of the book on a map. Read and re-read the book, make it your own in every possible way, until you know it as you know the alphabet.
C. There are some things about the books of the Bible that the teacher should know, not because they must often be used in the class, but as a background of teaching. The Biblical passages noted below should be read, as illustrating the statements made.
1. What was the purpose of the narrative books of the Old Testament ?
Their purpose was less to narrate events than to teach religious lessons. In the books from Genesis to Joshua, the writers gathered up the old Hebrew stories, and wrote them in such a way as to show that God guided the beginnings of Israel's history, that he built the people up from a family into a nation, and led their journeys till he brought them into Canaan. The writers wished to teach that Israel ought not to forsake the God who had guided their fathers. The stories were also written to teach that sin brings suffering and righteousness brings prosperity. Read Genesis 2 and 3 for the teaching of sin and suffering; Genesis 12 and Exodus 14 for the idea of God's guidance of the ancestors of Israel. Judges, Samuel and Kings were written to show that national prosperity depends on faithfulness to God. See how this is brought out in Judges 2: 11-23; I Samuel 15: 17–31; II Kings 17:1-23. Ruth and Jonah are missionary books, written to show that God cares for other nations as well as for the Hebrews. Read Jonah and see how it shows this. The writers of the books of narration were not so much historians as preachers. They were not so much interested in the exact report of events as in the impression of great truths. In any course of lessons from these books, the teacher should help the class to recognize the writer's purpose.
2. What was prophecy?
Prophecy was the expression of what the prophet conceived to be the message of God to his people. It was far more than prediction. Usually it was not prediction at all, but some great moral truth, as that national sin must bring national suffering. See Is. 1: 2–20. In some prophets, notably Isaiah and Jeremiah, the message had a political bearing; certain policies were condemned and certain others commended. See Jer. 27: 12–15. Usually the prophets demanded social or religious reforms (see Is. 5: 8–12; Amos 8:4-10), but sometimes, in the later history of prophecy, he brought comfort and hope to a discouraged people, as in Ezek. 37: 1-14 and Is. 40:1-11, spoken to the Jews in Exile. Prophecy always met the needs of the prophet's own time, and must be studied in its background. Most of the prophetic books are collections of extracts from prophetic speeches, often without order. The reader will not find in such books a logical development of thought, but may expect to find the prophet's most important ideas frequently recurring in different forms. See in Amos how often the idea of the oppressing of the poor by the rich occurs. The books are frequently obscure because of (1) their address to the people of their own time; (2) their unexplained allusions to contemporaneous events and customs; (3) the frequent fragmentary character of the books. Their permanent value lies in (1) the great religious ideas which they express; (2) the vigor, and strength, and often the beauty of their writing; (3) the greatness and devotion of the prophets themselves as shown in their utterances.
3. What is the form of Hebrew poetry?
Aside from measure, about which the reader of the English Bible need not concern himself, Hebrew poetry is marked by a relation of thought between lines, called parallelism. The thought may be repeated (See Ps. 1:2), or may be contrasted (See Ps. 1:6), or the second line may carry on the thought of the first (See Ps. 2:6). A parallelism is usually complete in two lines, but may contain more, and groups of parallelism may be in parallelism with each other (See Ps. 1). Books consisting largely or entirely of poetry are Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Lamentations. In impassioned speech or writing Hebrew prose easily passed over into poetry, and the books of prophecy contain much poetry, though the parallelism is sometimes not perfect. Read Is. 2:2–4 and note the parallelism.
4. What is the Book of Psalms ?
The Book of Psalms was the hymn book of the second temple, which was built after the exile. Like other hymn books, it was compiled from poems ancient and modern, and it is not always possible to tell the origin of the separate psalms though some, like Ps. 137, written in the exile, are very plain. The book is a growth of several hundred years, from soon after the exile to the time of the Maccabees, approximately from before 400 B.c. to 165 B.C. Its rich variety of religious experience,
expressed often in poetry of great beauty, inakes it the most valuable book of devotional poems in all religious literaturę.
5. What is the Apocalypse ?
It is a separate class of literature, represented in the Bible by Daniel and Revelation. It arose after the decline of prophecy, and was written from about 200 B.c. to perhaps 200 A.D. by Jews and Christians. It came from times of discouragement, and sounds a call to faith and courage in the midst of seemingly hopeless conditions. It presents three thoughts; present suffering, future conflict, final triumph. The literary form is usually that of vision, into which the writer puts past history, present difficulty and hopes of a future supernatural victory of God over his enemics. In Daniel the writer also uses a' series of hero stories (ch. 1-6), whose lesson is “Stand by your God and he will stand by you.”
6. What is the relation of the Synoptic gospels to each other?
The synoptic gospels were not written independently. Mark seems to be the earliest. Matthew and Luke borrow from Mark, but change slightly in borrowing, and both have also at least one other source in common, beside independent sources. Compare Mark 1 with Matthew 3 and 4, Luke 3 and 4. Where material occurs in all three, Mark is the
Where it occurs only in Matthew and Luke, it is not easy to tell which best represents the source from which they borrowed. Each gospel presents the life of Christ from a different point of view; Matthew was written by a Christian Jew trying to prove that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah; Mark gives a collection of stories concerning Jesus, showing how he impressed those about him as having the power of God; Luke was a Christian Gentile who presented Jesus as the Saviour of all the world. Each has its own excellence: Mark is briefer and more vivid; Matthew gives the fullest groups of teachings of Jesus, as the Sermon on the Mount, (chs. 5–7), the parables of the kingdom (ch. 13); Luke best presents Jesus' tenderness and compassion, as in the parable of the prodigal son (ch. 15).
7. How is John related to the other gospels ?
John was written later than the other gospels, but does not borrow incidents or sayings from them. It emphasizes the divine element in the life of Jesus, and is largely occupied with showing how Jesus was the Word of God, become flesh and dwelling among men, but still manifesting divine power and love. Its independent origin makes it different in style and sometimes in statement of fact from the other gospels.
8. What is the content of the book of Acts ?
Acts shows how the Church progressed from Jerusalem to Rome, and passed from a Jewish sect to an independent church in the Gentile world, not by any plan of the disciples, but by the purpose of God. See, for example, ch. 13:1-4. The book is composed of two parts; 1-12, the Jerusalem church expanding into the Gentile world; 13–28, the adventures of Paul the missionary to the Gentiles, forming a natural sequence to the first part.
9. What was the origin of the letters of Paul ? The letters of Paul were mostly written to churches in his missionary field to meet some particular need arising in them. Philippians and Ephesians are both exceptions. Philippians was written while Paul was in Rome, to thank the church at Philippi for a gift. Epaphroditus, the bearer of the gift, had been sick at Rome, and this letter was sent by him on his recovery and return. Ephesians was a circular letter to the group of churches of which that at Ephesus was chief, emphasizing the unity of the church in Christ its head. The letters of Paul are not books, but genuine letters, with the spontaneity, and personal qualities which belong to letters. This accounts for their personal point of view, their occasional obscurity of style and the frequent incomplete treatment of subjects, which are only dealt with so far as the particular needs of his correspondents demanded. At the same time there is a vigor and force about the letters which might have been lacking in the more artificial style of a book. Read Galatians 1 as an example of the characteristics of a letter.
D. If not already familiar, fix the location of the following so that you
G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of Palestine. Doran. . $3.75
1.50 Dunning, The Making of the Bible. Pilgrim Press.
.50 Ottley, A Short History of the Hebrews. Macmillan.
1.25 Kent, A History of the Hebrew People. Scribner. 3 vols. 1.25 Matthews, History of New Testament Times in Palestine. Macmillan.
1.00 If desired, other books of general Biblical information may be substituted.
III. CHURCH HISTORY
Gain clear ideas on the following topics in the history of the church:
The reasons for the spread of the early church.
ecclesiasticism grew and the causes of its growth. Why the Reformation came, who were the great leaders and what
happened in it, especially in Germany and England. Who were the Puritans, who the Pilgrims, and what were their great
ideas. When and why Congregationalism arose. The leading ideas of Congregationalism. The beginnings and leading ideas of the other denominations in your
vicinity. Remember that no amount of book-knowledge makes a good teacher.
The teacher is one who can teach, and that is only learned by teaching. SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON RELIGIOUS
AND MORAL EDUCATION In January, 1915, the Commission on Religious and Moral Education of the National Council of Congregational Churches sent the following letter to all ministers in charge of Congregational churches:
DEAR SIR, - The Commission on Religious and Moral Education, appointed at the last session of the National Council of Congregational Churches, wishes to undertake a systematic survey of the present conditions in the Sunday Schools of our churches. The Commission is especially anxious to gain information regarding the satisfaction of pastors and teachers with existing Sunday School courses. As you well know the present is a time of transition. The new graded courses have now been tried out, and it is highly important that we know something of the experience with them of all who have used them. A new Committee on International Lessons is this year undertaking its work. There is call in some quarters for a new scheme of lessons, graded by departments instead of by years, and there is grave question whether or not the committee should undertake to maintain three types of courses the graded, the departmentally graded, and the uniform.
With this and other problems in view the Commission of the National Council asks that you co-operate with it in furnishing careful answers to the following questions.
1. What is the enrollment in your Sunday School? Pupils? Teachers? 2. What is the average attendance?
3. What methods do you rely upon to secure and maintain attendance?
4. Is your school graded? What are the departments, and what is the enrollment in each department?
5. Give a list of the courses used in each department, and state where published.
6. Give some statement of your experience with these courses. In what respects have you found these courses satisfactory, and in what respects unsatisfactory? What suggestions do you have to make for revision or for the construction of new courses?
7. Do you have a teacher-training class or classes? What is the enrollment?
8. Give a list of the courses of study used in your training class, and state where published.
9. Give some statement of your experience with these courses. In what respects have you found these courses of study for training-classes satisfactory, and in what respects unsatisfactory? What suggestions do you have to make for revision or for the construction of new courses?
10. Does your Sunday School have an adult class or classes? What is the enrollment?
11. Give a list of courses used by adult classes, and state where published.