One session into the 24-week Bible Timeline Study by Jeff Cavins (sessions are free at this host parish), part of the Great Adventure series, and I am thoroughly hooked. After class I drove to a favorite place for lunch, where they have wi-fi, and ordered the Study Kit. You can get it from Amazon for $29.97 with free shipping. [This does not include the CD’s or the DVD’s which can be purchased separately.]
Included in each kit are Study Questions and Responses (each is 100 pages, 8.5 x 11″), 33 full-color Bible Timeline Chart, Bible Timeline Study Workbook, full-color laminated Bookmark, and a Memory Bead Wristband. A customized D-Ring binder holds all materials. Each component of the Complete Study Kit contributes to the effectiveness of this color-coded, multi-sensory study. This comprehensive approach presents the story of salvation in a compelling and effective way so that the bible study participant not only learns “the big picture” but is able to retain it.
I’ve watched part of this series on EWTN before but this is the first time I’ll be able to take advantage of the color-coded timeline chart, special color-coded Bible tabs, and the workbook which ties the Catechism in with the study of the Scriptures, and the mnemonic device of the color-coded beads.
But Jeff’s genius does not end there. As he says in the introduction, to paraphrase: When we first begin to read the Bible, we tend to either plow through it from beginning to end (I’ve done this, and I was very confused when I finished) or we tend to read it out of order which keeps our interest for a while, but this way we never do develop the ability to see the Big Picture. We lose the thread of the narrative somewhere around Leviticus I and we never get it back because we tend to run low on enthusiasm and interest. Our hit or miss approach does not fare much better. We tend to lose interest when we lose sight of the plot. It’s stories we want, all of us, it’s simply a part of who we are.
So how does Cavins propose that we get a grip on the story? By reading the books that tell the story first, and letting those books provide the background, the context, against which the other books will take on meaning and significance for us that we missed before. The chart below (copied from the free pdf) shows the 12 periods and 14 narrative books we’ll be reading in class. All of the other books of the Bible fit somewhere in those periods and should be read in context with their associated narrative books. This way we begin to see the story of salvation and we begin to reclaim history. His Story, the way history is meant to be understood: as pointing beyond the events, the milestones and markers of our lives to the One for and through all things were made. Amen.
The Great Adventure’s Narrative Timeline of Scripture
12 Periods: 14 Narrative Books
Early World: Genesis (1–11)
Patriarchs: Genesis (12–50)
Egypt and Exodus: Exodus
Desert Wanderings: Numbers
Conquest and Judges: Joshua, Judges; supplemental ‐‐ Ruth
Royal Kingdom: 1 and 2 Samuel; 1 Kings (1‐11)
Divided Kingdom: 1 Kings (12‐22); 2 Kings; supplemental ‐‐ Jonah
Exile: 2 Kings (17, 23‐25); supplemental ‐‐ Daniel
Return: Ezra; Nehemiah; supplemental ‐‐ Esther
Maccabean Revolt: 1 and 2 Maccabees
Messianic Fulfillment: Luke
The Church: Acts of the Apostles
See a sample of the fancy shmancy version of the timeline chart.
Bibles recommended for use with the class
- NAB (New American Bible, the authorized version for Catholics in the U.S. and some other places, used in the liturgy here; use it as long as you are aware of the problems with many of the footnotes, etc.)
- And/or the RSV CE (Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition).
- Please also consider the RSV SCE (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition): excellent translation and notes and many corrections from the earlier versions. This is the one you generally see on EWTN.
(For continuing study, consider the Ignatius Study Bible edited by Dr. Scott Hahn; alas, only the New Testment study editions are available at this time).