- Knowledge of different parts of the Bible.
- Understanding of how the Bible was written.
- Understanding of how the books of the Bible were chosen.
- Awareness of different Christian beliefs about the authority, inspiration and interpretation of the Bible.
- Students will reflect upon how they learn to do new things.
- Analyse a film clip to understand the significance of holy writings to religious adherents.
- Discover key facts about the composition of the full version of the Bible.
- Analyse whether there is grounds for regarding the Bible as an authoritative source of information.
- Synthesise learning by preparing a speech for a debate on the reliability of the Bible as an historical document.
Supporting Values Education:
The value of mutual tolerance between those of different faiths and beliefs is made possible only when one begins to develop understanding of those beliefs. This lesson helps students to understand the importance of the Bible in shaping and preserving Christian beliefs.
Ask the class how they learn to do new things. If they need help, you could ask how they learned to do specific tasks, such as learning to swim, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to talk. Draw out that some things are learned instinctively, while others require specific instruction from someone who already knows what they are doing. Point out that even with tasks that require instruction, that instruction can come in a number of different ways: formal lessons, informal instruction, instruction books or manuals, online videos, etc.
Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about what Christians believe about how they get their instruction on how to live their lives.
Show the clip from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Lucasfilm, 2017, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online. Explain that Rey (Daisy Ridley) has travelled to a remote planet to track down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), charged with the task of bringing him back to help the resistance. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the discovery that she makes during the clip.
- Start time: 0.21.55 (beginning of chapter 10 of the DVD)
- End time: 0.25.01
- Clip length: 3 minutes and 6 seconds
The clip starts with Rey turning away from Luke Skywalker and approaching the tree that contains the original Jedi texts. The first line is Luke asking Rey, ‘Who are you’. It ends with Rey saying, ‘she deserves to know why, we all do.’
Ask the students why the place had such significance for Rey. Draw out that the books contained in the tree represented the original teaching of the Jedi Order, something of huge importance to her if she wanted to be trained to follow in the path of the Jedi herself.
Explain that Christians place great importance on the contents of the Bible. Point out that the wisdom of this depends entirely on whether the source of those words is an authoritative one or not. Give out the Bible factsheets and read through them with the class. Ask if there is anything on the fact sheet that surprises them.
Read the following quotation to the class:
‘It is sometimes claimed that historians simply as historians regard Old and New Testament history as unreliable on some independent historical grounds. But . . . many events which are regarded as firmly established historically have far less documentary evidence than many biblical events, and the documents on which historians rely for much secular history are written much longer after the event than many records of biblical events. Furthermore, we have many more copies of biblical narratives than of secular histories; and the surviving copies are much earlier than of secular histories; and the surviving copies are much earlier than those on which our evidence for secular history is based.’ (Richard L. Purtill, Thinking About Religion. Quoted in Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. Monarch books 1995).
According to this argument, the circumstances in which the Bible was written (particularly the number of copies that have been found and the relatively short period of time between the events described and the earliest surviving document) point to the Bible being, historically at least, a very reliable document.
But many Christians believe the Bible’s authority to be more than just historical. Ask the students to read through the following Bible passages, and to summarise what each of them says about the authority of the Bible (this could be done individually or in pairs): Luke 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Revelation 22:18-19. Once the students have had time to complete this task, take feedback on their findings.
Luke 1:1-4 suggests that the human writers of the Bible took trouble to ensure that they got their facts straight.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 suggests that the events described had a number of witnesses, many of whom would still have been in a position to dispute them if the biblical accounts had been falsified.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 suggests that there was also a supernatural element in the authority of the Bible – that although it was physically written by humans at a particular period in history, those human writers were inspired by God and were writing what he wanted them to write.
Revelation 22:18-19 suggests that God takes his word seriously, and that the consequences of anyone changing it for their own purposes are very great.
The points raised by the first two passages provide an objective argument for accepting a certain amount of authority for the Bible, regardless of whether the reader is a Christian or even believes in any kind of supernatural world. The last two points are only persuasive if the reader accepts the notion of the Christian God who chooses to let people know what he is like. However, if such a notion is accepted, they elevate the Bible onto a level of authority all of its own.
SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:
As a final exercise, ask the students to prepare a speech for a debate on the topic ‘This house believes that the Bible is a trustworthy set of documents, with reliable historical authenticity’. They can argue either for or against the motion. If you want, you could use a later lesson to conduct the debate.
YOU WILL NEED: