Preparing for the Journey
Journey Prep is a brief orientation to the way we’ll study the Bible together. The first lesson invites you to consider your personal history with the Bible.
1. How would you describe your experience with the Bible? Did you grow up learning the Bible or encounter it later in life? Have you studied it intensively or read it casually?
2. Which parts of the Bible do you know pretty well and which parts are less familiar?
3. How have you come to know some parts of the Bible better than others? (For example, repetitive reading, intensive study, memorization, meaningful during certain life experiences, or other reasons.)
4. When you think about diving deeper into Bible study, how does that make you feel? What do you fear? What do you hope to gain?
5. What do you plan to do with your increased knowledge and understanding of the Bible? (For example, join or lead a Bible study, become more active in discipleship, start a new ministry, etc.)
What Is the Bible?
If you asked a philosopher, scientist or poet what “love” is, you’d have very different answers. Similarly, we can define the Bible from different perspectives. It helps to characterize it in ways that people can appreciate.
1. If you were speaking to a room of secular historians, how would you define what the Bible is?
2. If you were speaking to a room of pastors or Bible study leaders, how would you define the Bible?
3. Finally, if you were speaking to a room of young people, ages 12-14 – completely uninterested in a collection of writings thousands of years old – how would you define the Bible for them?
What Is the Bible About?
1. One way we view the Bible is as a kind of symphony, with certain themes resurfacing throughout its 66 books. Pick a collection of literature or films you know well (such as Homer’s poems or Shakespeare’s plays, The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter). What major themes can you identify in the collection?
2. Even though the Bible was written by many authors across many centuries, it carries certain themes in its varied books. Consider the biblical stories, teaching and other kinds of biblical writings (such as the Psalms or the Proverbs) that you know. What themes have you observed?
3. The video speaks of the biblical theme of a covenant. When you think of a covenant, what words come to mind? Can you think of any covenants in your own life? What makes a covenant different from a simple agreement or contract?
How Do We Interpret the Bible?
Imagine you were separated from someone you love for six months and they were allowed to send a single hand-written letter to communicate with you. Along the way, the letter got wet. The drops of water blurred many words. You could tell there were extremely important things communicated in the letter, but deciphering the letter was sometimes difficult.
1. You would probably work very hard to interpret the letter. How is this similar to, and how is it different from, the task of interpreting the Bible?
2. It may be helpful to consider how you have come to understand and interpret the Bible. How did people around you interpret it as you were growing up? (For example, devotionally, academically, theologically.)
3. If you were to imagine a spectrum between “The Bible’s meaning is always plain and clear” and “the Bible is so complex that there’s no way to be sure of what it means,” how would you characterize your prior experience?
4. This video introduces the three movements of Bible interpretation used throughout BibleJourney: In the Text, Behind the Text and In Front of the Text. You may wish to listen to that portion of the video again. How would you put those three movements in your own words?
Lesson 5. What Is the Impact of the Bible?
The video you just watched references the impact of the Bible across many different aspects of culture and society. The truth is, a better understanding of the Bible will also give us a better understanding of the world around us.
1. Even if you were not raised in a Jewish or Christian household, chances are you grew up in a culture where the stories of the Bible were all around you. Name 5-10 biblical figures, characters or scenes that are often portrayed or explored in painting, sculpture, film, theater or music.
2. For many cultures, the Bible has formed a sort of shared storybook—a set of stories that most people knew and could reference or discuss. If they made a narrow escape, they might think of Moses leading the Israelites through the waters of the Red Sea. If they faced a daunting challenge, they might think of the David and Goliath story.
What are some of the (non-biblical) shared storybooks in our culture today? (Think of the books and shows and movies that it feels like everyone sees and discusses.) How are they different from the Bible as a shared storybook?