Because Bible Study means different things to different people, how it is approached in a homeschool will vary from household to household. This means that the Bibles, reference books, and other aids to learning will vary as well, as will the outcomes they hope to see from lessons.
Purposes of Homeschool Bible Study
Homeschool Bible Study may serve a variety of purposes. In some families, there may be little faith component, but an appreciation of cultural heritage in stories that have influenced discourse and the arts and the history of thought. For many others, the Bible will be seen as the Word of God and studied for understanding of their faith, guidance for their lives, and understanding of the history of the church (whichever church that may be). Homeschool Bible Study may also be part of the preparation for becoming an adult member of one’s faith, whether through Confirmation, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or another ceremony.
Books for Homeschool Bible Study
The book you would need for homeschool Bible Study might seem, quite obviously, to be the Bible. But it turns out that the complicated history of the Bible and the attempts of publishers interested in child development as well as religious education make the choice broader than ever before.
First of all, there are – of course – many different translations of the Bible as well as translations in a number of languages. If your family is bilingual, or if your child is studying Greek or Latin, Bible study could easily take place in a Classical language – or French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Vietnamese, etc. If your child is preparing for Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the language of Bible study will likely be Hebrew. And the translation choices run from King James to Revised Standard to the New American Bible, etc. Online, you can find sites that will help you compare how various editions render verses of interest, which can be quite useful.
But another possibility to consider, especially for the very young child, is retellings of Bible stories – either your own, or any of the many available in audio recording and book form. Arch Books, for example, has a large number of Bible stories adapted into verse for children and presented as short paper-back picture books. Burl Ives recordings of Bible stories (Bible Title Stories Series from Chariot Family Publishers) dramatize stories like those of Joshua, Jonah, and David and Goliath, and have a short book that goes with them. The attempt is to make the Bible more comprehensible and accessible to children.
People have mixed feelings about such adaptations. Some point out that the beauty of the words in particular translations is part of what the Bible is. People with this view often wish to have children experience those words and not different words, even though they may also explain the Bible’s words for their child. Others may feel that, while we may be attached to a particular set of words, Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek – he certainly didn’t speak English – so if it’s English words we’re attached to, we should consider that this is an adaptation for us, just as children’s versions are an adaptation for them.
References for Homeschool Bible Study
Some editions of the Bible come with a built-in study guide. Since this is keyed to the particular translation, it will likely be easy to use, but you can also purchase free-standing study guides, as well as find Bible study information on the Internet. In any case, you should always determine that the source you choose for Biblical interpretation is reliable.
You can also refer to other Biblical commentaries, sometimes published in one volume (like the Jerome Biblical Commentary) and sometimes in pamphlets. Concordances help you locate a particular instance or all instances of a word in a particular translation of Scripture. Cruden’s Concordance – one of the most famous – is published in several editions by several publishers. There are also Bible dictionaries of various kinds that may, for example, explain cultural references in the Bible.
Projects and Activities for Homeschool Bible Study
Project and activity books and online project and activity ideas for Bible study abound. These range from puzzles and word games to scripts for re-enacting Bible stories to crafts, coloring, recipes, etc. For older children, Bible study could include mapping and reports. New information about the Bible and people and places of the Bible are still being discovered – for example, there was a report in June, 2009 that the body of St. Paul has been found – so following the Bible-related news could be a project.