5 Bible Basics (Going Beyond Stories)
When I first starting following Jesus at age 14, I knew little about the Bible beyond the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah’s Ark. (My mom had once bought me a children’s Bible storybook and that was about as far as I got.) Everyone at church knew so much more about the Bible than I did, and I wanted to start reading the Bible regularly, so I asked two friends to help me pick one out. That experience was the beginning of my Bible education.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting as far as choices: paperback, hardcover, or leather, maybe? I remember being slightly overwhelmed as the two of them discussed different translations and finally decided I should get an NIV. “A what?” Maybe they explained the concept, but if so I don’t remember. I just took their word for it that that was what I should get. I found a plain NIV Bible and promptly took it home to begin reading.
I think I made it to Leviticus before I got discouraged. I told my friends about it on Sunday and one of them said the Old Testament might be too much to tackle at first. He recommended I skip ahead to the New Testament and start with Matthew. That was my first Bible lesson: this big book has two major divisions, and it could still make sense if I didn’t read it completely in order.
I enjoyed my journey through Matthew, but when I start in on Mark I got confused. I’d start into a story and then realize I’d already read it back in Matthew. Why was it in here twice? Then I hit Luke and many of the stories were there yet again! What was wrong with this book? Why did it keep repeating the same stories?
5 Things Everyone Should Know About the Bible
My confusion could have been cleared up with a few lessons in Bible basics. Somewhere along the line I got a better grasp on things and eventually I not only read the Bible but also studied it with great enthusiasm. In the beginning I felt like my friends all knew so much more than I did about the Bible, but as I started to learn more, I realized even those who had grown up in the church were often lacking a basic understanding of the Word of God.
I want to be sure my children grow up with a solid foundation when it comes to knowledge of the Bible. As I’ve looked into different ways people use the Bible in homeschooling, it seems like much of what I have found consists of teaching Bible stories. I think that’s great when the children are little, but I want to be sure we go beyond just stories and teach our children both some basic facts about the Bible as well as knowledge about how to study it to gain a deeper understanding.
Here are 5 Bible basics that helped us get started:
1. 66 books in 1. The Bible may come bound as one book, but it is actually a whole library of books by different authors written over a span of hundreds of years. (Knowing this would have helped me so much as I went through the gospels!) I created this blank Bible library bookshelf notebook page to help teach this concept. (The only label on it is the title at the top; everything else can be written in by hand. Feel free to adapt it to make it work for you!)
2. 2 major divisions. Those 66 books are divided into two groups: The Old Testament and the New Testament. The OT tells the story of how mankind was separated from God and how God used one nation, Israel, to set in motion a plan to bring about reconciliation. The NT tells about how God’s plan was carried out and how all people can experience that reconciliation. As a new believer, these basic descriptions could have helped me a lot in finding my way around!
3. Multiple genres. Some of the books of the Bible tell stories. Some list laws. Some have poems. Some describe prophetic visions. It’s important to know what type of book you’re reading in order to fully understand it.
4. It’s helpful to learn the names of the different books in order. It makes it SO much easier to look things up. I have found the best way to do this is through songs. I learned both Testaments from the My First Hymnal: 75 Favorite Bible Songs CD I bought years ago, so that’s what I’ve taught my kids, but there are lots of different songs out there that teach the names of the books of the Bible.
5. Translations abound. The books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT) (plus a small amount in Aramaic), so all English Bibles are translations. That’s why sometimes we’ll hear verses read slightly differently depending on which translation the speaker is using. (We use primarily the ESV in our home, as well as spending some time in the KJV.)
These are all basic things that we’ve taught our kids from early on. We have a chance to reiterate these concepts frequently, so at least the older boys have a fairly good understanding of them. I’m looking forward to Ian’s 1st grade year, when we’ll be able to dig a little deeper as we study the Scriptures.
Coming Soon: My review of the program we’ll be using as a framework for our Bible studies for this coming school year!