A Book of Beginnings

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June 11, 2018

In January 2016, I announced the imminent end to a six-year cycle of Illuminate Bible study materials and an interim year in which we planned to try something different – linking a teaching or saying of Jesus each week to both an Old Testament text and an additional New Testament text for context and conversation. That interim series, Christ as Present Teacher, ends this summer. Our new, six-year cycle of study materials for individuals, small groups, and Christian education classes will offer study helps for most of the Bible, starting this September with Genesis: A Book of Beginnings.

Each lesson includes seven additional Scripture passages for readers interested in exploring how a week’s themes are addressed in the larger scope of the Bible – one passage for every day of the week.

Each lesson identifies two key verses and offers a brief explication of what’s happening in each and why it matters. This is the context teachers have told us helps them think about what to focus on in a facilitated discussion.

Each lesson lists three study goals or conversational aims for a group study. These goals offer small groups flexible guidance about where a conversation about the Scripture might go or what ideas should remain at the center of the group’s time together. 

Each lesson includes one or two pieces of background information that might help an individual to notice meaning in the text. Did you know, for instance, that Genesis is structured so as to contrast the God of Israel with the gods of other ancient peoples and to demonstrate, through this juxtaposition, important aspects of God’s character? Did you know that God’s covenant with Abraham is repeated in three different forms in the book of Genesis, and have you considered what that might mean for us?

Each lesson offers a suggested prayer that can be read aloud by groups or that might serve as an outline of what to pray for and how to pray. Many of these prayers are adapted and revised from the Book of Common Prayer, offering readers of Illuminate a connection to the church at large.

Each lesson has a Quaker quote relevant to the Scripture passage and offering increased understanding of how Quakers over time have interacted with, understood, and lived out these biblical texts.

Each lesson incorporates two sections of Scripture and commentary. The commentaries are written to allow for individual study, small group discussion, or teacher preparation.

Each lesson has questions suited for classroom discussion, small-group conversation prompts, and individual contemplation.

Finally, each lesson includes a short, narrative reflection from a contemporary Friend. These Friendly Perspectives give Illuminate lessons a conversational tone while also helping us each week to hear the contemporary voices of our Quaker neighbors – a weekly reminder that even if the faith tradition we belong to is small, it reaches around the world and across nearly four centuries.

Illuminate is the only Bible study curriculum written by Friends and for Friends, and if you’re not familiar with it yet, send me an email. I’d love to mail you a free copy!

Thank you,
Eric Muhr

P.S. Seeds of hope is the three-year campaign to fund the ministry of Barclay Press by developing new titles, supporting small churches, and balancing the budget.

In order to stay on target to meet our goal of $162,000 by December 31, 2020, we need to get to $30,375 by July 1, 2018. As of this morning, we have raised $26,800 in gifts and pledges.


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