This week, I wanted to present a basic introduction to the Bible for my students. Some of my students knew a little bit about the Bible and some had zero experience with it, other than what they hear in church. One of my students told me, “I don’t think we even have a Bible in our house.” That’s when I instantly told them they had a homework assignment this week, “I want everyone to go home and find where your family keeps their Bible and then tell me next Sunday.”
It became a simple goal of mine. I don’t expect that all of my students will find their family’s Bible (if they do indeed have one) and then start reading it every day. I just want them to engage their parents. “Do we have a Bible? Where is it?” I want them to connect church with home. I want them to begin to realize that the two are intricately woven together and are not in anyway separate.
The reality is – 45 minutes with me, once a week, is nothing compared to the amount of time these children spend with their parents. We will collectively see more children attending liturgy every Sunday after they graduate from high school, when families understand that learning occurs over a lifetime and that we live our faith every, single day – everywhere we go.
The goals for this week were to teach the students how to use a Bible, the basics of the two main parts of the Bible (Old and New Testament), the story of how the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew to Greek, and how Symeon the God-Receiver is connected to that story.
The student handout is an introduction to the Bible as well as the story of the Septuagint and Saint Symeon the God-Receiver. This is an 11x17 print out for the students so they can roll it up as a scroll – because at that time, books were scrolls.
You can save these print outs to a thumb drive and print them at FedEx for a reasonable price on their self-serve printers.
Just before I went to Sunday School last week, one of our presvyteras pulled me to the side to show me Fr. Jon Emanuelson’s Bible banners. Oh my goodness! They are a great resource for teachers and I’m in the process of obtaining a set for myself to use in all my future lessons on the Bible! (Images to the right are used with permission)
Old and New Testament Banners:
Fr. Jon Emanuelson produced two banners (see images to the right) of the Old and New Testaments for educational use for classrooms, retreats, Bible Studies, homeschools, or in any other religious education setting. He has a limited number of sets for purchase, but you can contact him for more information. I think they are well worth having when teaching about the Bible!
Teacher Lesson Prep & Connections:
Here are the resources I used while researching about the Septuagint and Symeon the God-Receiver. It’s completely up to you if you want to use these resources strictly for yourself or incorporate them into your lesson. I did not use the videos for my Sunday School class (although I think it would be great to share them with the students) but I did use them with my older boys this past week since we are also studying about the Bible and the Divine Liturgy for our homeschool year.
Library of Alexandria:
This video is about the Library of Alexandria and contains a very brief mentioning of the translation of the first five books of the Bible, the Septuagint.
Where is Alexandria, Egypt? Let’s find it on a map. Why did the Egyptian ruler value books that much? Why did the Egyptian ruler feel it was so important to have the Jewish Law (the first five books of the Bible) translated from Hebrew to Greek?
How to Make Papyrus Paper:
I think it’s very easy for children to not understand the scope of what the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy was doing when he was confiscating (or buying) books for the library from every ship that entered the Alexandrian port. For us today, we just go and buy a book and we don’t give it much thought. At that time, books were prohibitively expensive. Only the elite could afford them because it was a long process to not only create the paper to write on but also each and every book was painstakingly written by hand. It took forever to make a book, in the form of a scroll, at that time. The ruler was creating an impressive resource and all the great minds of the time were flocking to learn and do research at the Library of Alexandria! The ruler also understood the importance of having these great books in the language of the majority of the people so that they would benefit from the wealth of knowledge being provided at the Library of Alexandria.
The papyrus plant was used to make paper for scrolls. It wasn’t until the 1400’s when the printing press was invented that books were now able to be “mass produced.”
For so much of history, the only way you were able to learn about the Bible was by attending services. When the printing press was invented, every home had the potential of owning their own Bible now. What excuse do we have today for not knowing our Bible better or reading it on a regular basis?!
Scribes of Ancient Egypt:
Scribes were in charge of not only keeping an account of events during their time but also had to make many of their supplies – paint/ink, brushes/pens, etc. It was a huge amount of training and work to create a book.
Scribes needed to be well-trained in both linguistic (written word) and visual (art, people, scenes) communication.
These are the resources I read when researching more about Symeon the God-Receiver:
- Orthodox Study Bible: Luke 2:22-38
- Septuagint: Orthodox Wiki
- Legend of the Septuagint: from Classical Antiquity to Today
- The Prologue of Ohrid: Volume 1
- Righteous Symeon the God Receiver
- Simeon the God-receiver
- Holy, Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver
- Presentation of Christ in the Temple
- A Lamp To My Feet Zine
- Heaven on Earth: The Divine Liturgy Zine