Introducing the Bible: An Active Learning Approach

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9780131777774: Introducing the Bible: An Active Learning Approach

This book encourages users to read the Bible and primary sources closely and carefully, and offers background sketches about topics not explained in the Bible. It points to specific versus and chapters, asking carefully constructed questions that prompt readers to think creatively and figure out their own answers. The book also shares with learners the issues that biblical scholars study, and more importantly, how biblical scholars create arguments about those issues. An emphasis on biblical literacy provides an understanding of major themes in the Bible, an introduction to major biblical characters, and knowledge of Biblical scholarship. The book also contains a variety of scholarly techniques for analyzing biblical materials. For church-based adult Bible-study classes, and for anyone who want to do more than study the Bible.

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From the Back Cover:

Adam L. Porter provides a unique and valuable resource for students who are reading and studying the Bible. Using a series of questions in a workbook format, Porter directs students in a careful reading of biblical texts, helping students understand and see how scholars debate important issues in biblical interpretation. As Porter writes:

  • The genesis of this book was when students asked me to give them a family tree for Abraham's family. I did so and then realized they would have learned more if I pointed them to the biblical verses and asked them to draw the genealogy themselves. I decided to write a whole book that does just this: points the students to verses and chapters and asks them to think creatively.
Important features of Introducing the Bible.
  • Valuable text for all introductory Bible, Hebrew Bible, or New Testament courses
  • Students taught scholarly techniques for analyzing biblical materials (including source criticism, redaction criticism, form criticism, and literary methods of analysis)
  • Questions-based organization, with simple questions leading up to more complex questions for analysis
  • Suggestions for further reading for each chapter

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

To the Instructor

Many schools require an Introduction to the Bible class because the Bible is one 6f the cornerstones of Western civilization. To appreciate Western art, literature, or civilization more generally, one needs to have some familiarity with the Bible. This need is important today, since many students know little about the Bible. Additionally, students, like the general population, are unfamiliar with critical Biblical scholarship. This textbook focuses on the latter issue, since carefully reading the Bible addresses the former.

This textbook is non-traditional. Most textbooks present facts and figures, summarize the Biblical text, and present scholarly ideas as "fact." Some seem to be glorified Cliffs Notes to the Bible. Students, pressed for time, often read the textbook more carefully than the Bible. My goal is to encourage students to read the Bible carefully and closely. I want students to analyze the text and reflect on it, to feel the thrill of discovering something new and interesting, rather than passively accepting the voice of an "authority." Since they practice the techniques used by scholars, they understand why scholars have the theories they do and can critique them.

Hence, students gain two things from this textbook: Biblical literacy and transferable skills. The former includes understanding major themes in the Bible, familiarity with major biblical characters, and knowledge of Biblical scholarship. The latter includes learning how to read carefully, to analyze texts, and to create persuasive arguments. These skills are the basis for all scholarship and students have the opportunity to practice them repeatedly going through this book.

To the Student

Students often find the Bible a morass of unpronounceable names, odd practices, and dull genealogies. This is understandable. I won't pretend that the Bible is easy to read or understand. (If it were, we'd need a lot fewer Bible scholars!) My goal is to lead you through the Bible, showing you how to read it carefully, as Biblical scholars do, and not be bored.

But while I can lead you, like the proverbial horse to water, I cannot make you drink. You must take responsibility to read the Bible carefully in order to answer the questions posed here. Many of these are rather straightforward, but will lead to more complex, analytical questions, marked with an asterisk.

Frequently, the analytical questions are ones that have puzzled readers and scholars. They are difficult questions to answer and different readers have offered more than one answer. Don't be discouraged if you cannot think of an answer or if your solution is different from your colleagues': this happens all the time to scholars! Think creatively and consider different possible explanations for the data you have collected and try to decide which you find most persuasive.

You may want to do additional reading on various topics. To help you with this, I have included a For Further Reading section at the end of each chapter. All further readings are from the Anchor Bible Dictionary, abbreviated ABD. There are two reasons for directing you to ABD. First, the dictionary can be found in almost every college library and many public libraries as well, so locating these references should be easy. Second, each article in the dictionary has a lengthy bibliography, so you can find additional materials easily.

Since the Bible is difficult reading, plan your time accordingly. It will take you longer to read Genesis than Tom Clancy or John Grisham. It will be harder to read, so find a quiet place with few distractions. Read with a pen (or pencil) in hand to underline material you find interesting or puzzling. Jot notes in the margins. And enjoy the exploration.

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