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From Sue Tait, Diocesan Librarian:

There are certainly plenty of “introductions” to the bible available, and here is another one, published this year from Church Publishing – Blessed to Bless: An Introduction to the Bible, by Tim Sean Youmans (Church Publishing, Inc., 2020. CUR 220.61 You). The author is department chair at Casady School in Oklahoma City, a pre-K through 12th grade Episcopal college preparatory school, and curriculum for middle school students includes a four-year survey of the Bible.

Youngmans invited parents to also use the curriculum, following the same pace as their offspring. When he first issued the invitation he expected a small response and was surprised when over 90 parents showed interest. That led to the creation of a website with assignments and commentary, which became the chapters of this book.

Acknowledging that “Many people revere and respect the Bible, but very few people have actually read it,” this simple and basic introduction provides a foundation for deeper study. While it is not an in-depth examination, it does occasionally point out the potential complexities of certain stories and ideas.

Divided into four sections, the first concerns the Book of Genesis, section two takes up Exodus, section three deals with the monarchy and prophets, and only in section four does the author turn to “Christianity merges out of Judaism.”

Each chapter begins with a reading assignment from the Bible; commentary from Youngmans follows, and ends with a few questions for the reader or leader to consider. The assumption is that the bible passage will be read before interacting with the commentary, and much of the commentary itself is in the form of questions about the biblical text. Although written on an eighth grade reading level, it could be used by older teens or adults, especially those with no previous experience with the scriptures. Appendices include useful one on Biblical Vocabulary Concepts.

He also references The Bible Project, short overview videos for each book of the Bible, and themes and word studies in the scriptures (https://bibleproject.com/), created by a crowdfunded animation studio whose website proclaims their mission is “to help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.”

Youngmans is now an Episcopal priest, raised in an Evangelical Baptist home. You may want to examine this material and the theology of The Bible Project to check for compatibility with that of your own situation, although the book’s text suggests some alternative understandings, rather than proscribing specific ones. He claims that Casady school has students from a wide range of religious backgrounds, and none at all, but he (like all of us) is formed by his own upbringing and seems to identify his slant when important. Differences in understanding might lead to interesting conversations in a small group.

If you are curious about Casady School, their website is: https://www.casady.org/. I will be glad to send the book to you if you would like to examine it more closely.

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