Several years ago when my oldest was beginning his homeschooling in earnest and my wife and I were choosing our curricula for different school subjects, I set out to find just the right Bible curriculum. Our family does regularly read the Bible together as a family, but it is my firm belief that it also ought to be learned as a subject of serious study. However, in my search, I found that most Bible curricula fall into one of several types: devotionals, introductions, surveys, or personal explorations. And while all of these exercises are good and helpful for Christians, I was looking for something different.
Specifically, I considered the fact that my children will be of “education age” for at least a good 12 years in my home, and in that amount of time, a lot of knowledge can be accrued and skills developed. So in those early years, I sought something that would be rigorous and comprehensive but still accessible for children. All surveys and introductions, all Bible story books that I found are overly selective, and so large portions of the Bible are not learned. Very likely, a key criterion for inclusion in these material is that the profitability be readily apparent; that is, if we cannot easily discern how a story, system, sermon, or song in Scripture is profitable, then we don’t need to expect our kids (or ourselves) to know it. But I was and continue to be committed to the idea that because all Scripture is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), then we should seek to learn all of it and then continually grow in our understanding of how each part profits us. And so, alas, I was unable to find what I was looking for.
Consequently, though I didn’t know it at the time, my project for Biblical literacy, now called the Four Volumes project, began. I started by making presentations for each book of the Bible with one slide per chapter. I provided anywhere from one to about five summary statements to associate with each chapter and had my children learn them. Along with their regular reading, they memorized the chapter content from these slides. They could identify which chapter of the Bible different stories were found in, and, more helpfully, they became able to summarize entire books of the Bible chapter by chapter. As the months went by, my children began showing a firm grasp of the basic facts of Scripture and proved to be capable, therefore, of recognizing larger themes and literary features in the text.
By the encouragement of some of my friends who saw this early material, I have considered various ways of packaging this material for a broader audience. And after a few years of attempts, I have now arrived at something that I really believe can benefit and bless many families and churches in their education of their children—homeschoolers or not! The Four Volumes project maintains chapter content as a core feature of its methodology, and I am working on offering that content by means of e-courses.
My first e-course is now complete, called Genesis: Basic Overview. In this course, there is one lesson per chapter, each chapter having been given a brief summary statement to consider and learn. Each lesson includes a video presentation built around explaining and expanding upon the summary description. Quizzes are given each lesson to provide accountability and assessment of student progress along with periodic cumulative exams. Additionally, there are presentations on the chronology of the book of Genesis as well as presentations for introduction and summation. Also included are music, artwork, and handouts to aid learning.
At this point, I recognize that the course is far from perfect, and I’m trying to get as much feedback as possible so I can improve it. The course is for sale with the objective of providing feedback as well as raising money to help me with development costs.
The vision of the Four Volumes project is huge! Ultimately, I would like to provide a 12-year program in which students can cycle through the Bible three times, each with a deeper level of engagement. The first cycle focuses on the factual information that students are expected to memorize. The second cycle focuses on literary features, types, symbols, and themes in the text along with the progressive nature of the Biblical revelation. And the third cycle will include ideas of application: apologetics, difficulties in interpretation, theological concepts, and poetic expression.
Right now, I’m at the beginning stages of the first cycle, and my desire is to complete the first school year-long course on “Volume One” (Genesis through Judges) by the fall of 2017. This course of study will include seven e-courses on each of those seven books as well as textbooks, a suggested schedule, and other study tools.
Please visit fourvolumes.com to see more about the project as well as to see a sample lesson and to buy the first course. The introduction video can be seen here:
The best ways to support this project are to purchase the Genesis: Basic Overview course, provide me constructive feedback, and share the project with other people who might be interested in it. This first course is accessible to young children but also rigorous enough for adults and seminary students. To remain aware of my progress, please follow me on Twitter at @FourVolumes and on my Four Volumes Facebook page. I truly appreciate any support and feedback provided by others of God’s people who are passionate about learning, teaching, remembering, and applying God’s word.