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The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study (Set): A Survey of the Bible Paperback – June 22, 2010
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About the Author
Starr Meade served as the director of children’s ministries for ten years at her local church and taught Latin and Bible for eight years at a Christian school. She is a graduate of Arizona College of the Bible and has authored a number of books. Starr lives in Arizona with her husband, where she currently teaches homeschool students and is mother to three grown children and six grandchildren.
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Perhaps it would be well suited to a student who already possesses a good knowledge of the Bible, but for my student who is working on building his knowledge beyond childhood Sunday School stories, this was unnecessarily confusing and did not accomplish that goal.
One of the questions one mom asked me about this study is whether or not it was practical. I think she wanted to make sure that it was practical, but not solely application. Here is Ms. Starr's response on pg. 12 to that concern: "Certainly the Bible is not just any book, and our goal is never just to know the information it holds. God requires us to let his Word affect our hearts; he requires us to change our attitudes and our lifestyles so that we think and do what the Bible tells us to. But surely we must begin by knowing what it says." From there, Ms. Starr examines how studying the Bible is similar to studying other books and how it is different.
At the end of the introduction, she cautions students that that studying the Bible isn't easy and that it takes "diligence and work" p. 15. I agree with her. What I liked most about this introduction is that it explains to the reader why it is important to study the Bible and the simple truth that "the Bible is God's revelation of himself to us." p. 15 We read the Bible so that we might get to know God better. The Waltons write in The Bible Story Handbook that "The Bible is God's self-revelation, and, as such, it enables the reader to know God more fully." p. 27 and then on p. 30 write "Relationship is the goal, salvation is the means, and eternity is the scope...Our approach to the stories of the Bible ought to focus on how each one helps us to understand God and his plan better."
So, though this Bible study doesn't fit the mold of what one might call "practical", that is a good thing, I think. This study fits into a natural progression of books I've read this year for children to grow up into. The Read Aloud Bible Stories, The Big Picture Bible, and Mighty Acts of God all follow a progression of helping children to see the stories of the Bible not as isolated events but as a big, vast picture--they convey who God is--and how He loves us.
I want to share an example of what I mean because it is hard to explain how this study is practical without being practical.
"No one whom God chooses to bless deserves his blessings. To drive that point home, Scripture regularly shows us God choosing the most unlikely people to bless or to use. Jacob is a case in point. In the first place, he was the younger son, born after his twin brother..." p. 46-47
Though this point isn't directly "practical", it is crucial to our understanding many stories in the Bible and getting to know God.
This study is a set of five books. Four workbooks and one answer key. It would easily work for a four year Bible curriculum for homeschool students. I counted the breakout of weeks for the first book and it could be divided into 39 lessons with 7 tests and 1 final chronological test. The appropriate age range for this study is 11 or 12-adult. It is also a very affordable curriculum. On Amazon, it is only $35 for the full set (it is sold as a complete set of books).
As I was reading through the study and perusing it, I realized that it would be good for me to use this curriculum as my Bible Study for the next year and read through the Bible. I love that about this study--that both parent and student could go through it together. It isn't too simplistic for an adult to be encouraged by going through it. I think many of us struggle to go through the Bible with just a plan of what to read each day. But, having a few questions to answer helps us--or at least it definitely helps me and gives a guide as I make my way through it. The tricky part is finding a study guide that doesn't read a lot into the Word and make inferences and interpretations for you. I like this one for that reason.
I'm really looking forward to winding my way through this Bible Study next year!
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this study for review from Crossway Books.
The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study is a five volume set of workbooks designed to lead middle or early high school age students through Scripture. Using an easy-to-follow study guide format, it provides an overview of the entire Bible, while encouraging students to explore God's word for themselves. The set consists of two volumes apiece for the Old and New Testaments plus an answer key. There are two options for working through the series:
*as a supplement to reading the entire Bible cover to cover (follow the readings listed in the shaded icons in the margins)
*as a workbook that guides you through an overview of the Bible (follow the readings listed in bold print in the body of each lesson)
Due to time constraints, we chose the second option this time through. The Dancer (8th grade) is working her way through this study independently and is very much enjoying it. She likes how it guides her through the Biblical text and allows her to discover for herself what God's word is saying rather than simply telling her what it means, and she appreciates the section introductions and brief explanatory notes that give just enough perspective while still allowing the text to speak for itself.
The introduction ("Getting Started"), addressed to the student, is superb! It clearly outlines why Bible study is important and the concept that it's essential to read the whole Bible, each book straight through and all of them together, to understand the "big picture".
Major sections or books often, but not always, begin with a brief introduction and background info. The study itself consists of prompts to read a passage of Scripture and then answer fill in the blank questions about what you've just read. There are brief explanatory notes and commentary peppered throughout, though there's no set pattern to them. Some are brief, just a sentence or two, some are several paragraphs long. There may be several pages with no comment, then several fairly close together. After each section is a multiple choice test, reviewing the material covered in that section. It sounds...and even looks...a bit "textbookish", but when you delve into it, it's really not! It's actually very engaging and interesting.
I am once again impressed with how Ms. Meade is able to put difficult theological concepts into simple terms. In The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study, there isn't near as much commentary or explanation as in some of her other material, like God's Mighty Acts in Salvation for example. The focus is definitely on getting the student to read, study, and love Scripture for themselves! And yet in the short section introductions and brief explanations peppered throughout she manages to zero in on the heart of the matter and bring those big concepts down to an accessible level. Just as in her other books, I love her focus on the "big picture", the overarching storyline of the Bible. She emphasizes that it's not a collection of unrelated stories but one big story of redemption with God as the main character.
The set is perfect for middle and early high school students but also for adults! I would love to go through this study myself. It could be an excellent tool to use with new Christians or just those who have never considered the "big picture" before. Starr Meade has once again provided us with an invaluable resource for studying Scripture and understanding God's eternal plan and what part we play in it.
Thanks so much to Crossway for giving me the opportunity to review this series! All opinions are my own.