God’s Great Covenant: New Testament
The events in the life and ministry of Jesus are likely familiar to many middle school students. But, investigating the gospel accounts within the context of the Jewish / Roman world at the turn-of-the-timeline illuminates more than just the facts and accounts surrounding Jesus’s life and work; it gives us a fuller understanding of Jesus as God-made-man and shines light on the brilliance of His planned arrival to a certain people, at a certain period in time, at a certain place in the world, to make a certain point for us all.
This course begins with a short introductory review of what a covenant is, and what God’s Covenant was from the beginning of biblical scripture. We will spend a few weeks investigating the historical, geographical, political and religious rules of the day using the introductory pages of “God’s Great Covenant: New Testament 1” by Classical Academic Press. While this may sound rather formal, the approach is interactive and engaging: we’ll view age-appropriate archaeological documentaries, draw comparisons of simple maps of ancient and modern Israel, and discuss our own observations of text and media. Investigating societal structures in simple forms will help us to better understand the complexities of the interactions Jesus had with various groups and individuals. Spending time to grasp this backdrop gives us a more “3D” view of the life of Jesus and his contemporaries.
This is followed with a steady walk through major parts of the four gospels with a focus on the centrality of God’s message through Christ as recorded by four different authors. We’ll reflect on the importance of the fact that the four accounts are similar but not exactly the same. Character studies will help us to uncover God’s character revealed in Christ, and will help students to think deeply about the importance, necessity and wonder of Christ being fully God and fully man. Through it all, we will see how the gospels point back to prophecies from the Old Testament. In this way, students begin to grasp the continuity of “God’s Great Covenant” of love and salvation revealed and fulfilled from the first pages of scripture to the ascension of Christ. As we read in Hebrews 1:1-3: “Long ago, God spoke many times, and in many ways through the prophets, but now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son… The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.”
I hope you’ll join me in studying the fascinating life and times of Jesus Christ!
We have planned to cover all 32 chapters of the course text with the intention that students will be able to transition smoothly to God’s Great Covenant: New Testament 2 next year. However flexibility has been allowed to adapt the pace if, after correspondence with students and parents, the need should arise to proceed more slowly. Mastery is more important than quantity – multum, non multa!
Please note: Are you wondering if this course would take away from your family Bible instruction? While the course could certainly stand on its own as an independent Bible course for the school year, it is never our intention to replace parents in the biblical instruction of their children. Please feel free to reach out to the instructor to better understand how this course might be used to guide and enrich your family Bible instruction.
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be able to read material with attention to detail and identify areas which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark a text to indicate important terms, definitions, or concepts.
- Be able to read with a goal to understanding an author’s argument even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to use proper capitalization and punctuation.
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to form a paragraph which includes a topic sentence, transition sentences, and clear linear thinking.
- Be able to write a five-paragraph essay with direction from the instructor.
- Be able to manage assignments, submissions, and notifications on Canvas.
- Know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
- Be able to engage respectfully and wisely with other students and the instructor.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion and identify areas needing clarification.
- Be prepared to answer questions when called on during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer comments and ideas during class.
- Be able to follow directions on note-taking and other exercises during class.
God’s Great Covenant: New Testament 1, (Student Edition), by Claire Larson. Classical Academic Press.
The World Jesus Knew, by Marc Olson. Sparkhouse Family. October 3, 2017
A Bible: Instructor recommends NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible. Zonderkidz. June 6, 2017; Although “kids’” is in the title, this is a standard NIV translation, not modified or paraphrased. Hardcover and leather covers are both available. One benefit of this publication is the single-column format that makes the text more readable and accessible for narrative purposes.
Scripture Journal (recommendations forthcoming, not lined pages)
*Required texts are not included in the purchase of the course.
NOTE: While our primary text will be God’s Great Covenant: New Testament 1, the instructor will adapt and augment the curriculum as she sees best for the learning objectives of the course. As such, students should also be prepared to regularly print PDF files supplied by the instructor.
Elizabeth Kaufman is an educator, musician, and homeschooling mother of four. She teaches at Scholé Academy online in the Canterbury House of Studies. She is passionate about guiding children and families into biblical literacy and learning how to form a life that is increasingly guided by the study of scripture and the observations and rhythms of the church calendar.
Elizabeth holds a M.Ed. and earned her BA in Spanish from Hope College with minors in Music (piano performance) and Elementary Ed.. A missional mindset led her to work in various countries, teaching art and music in an American School in the Dominican Republic, grades 2 and 3 in a British school in Tanzania, and Spanish at a Montessori school in Michigan. Elizabeth went on to choose motherhood and homeschooling as a full-time pursuit and has loved teaching her four sons for the past nine years while living mostly in East Africa.
Throughout this time, she has grown increasingly committed to Classical Christian education and has developed a love for “living” literature and biblical scholarship. She has also combined her love of music and scripture to compose several collections of songs for young students and families to learn scripture together and to sing through liturgical seasons. Elizabeth believes that every course of study is an invitation to witness God’s redemptive work in the world and to be formed and transformed by it.
Elizabeth lives in Kenya where her husband teaches biblically-based church discipleship and her sons enjoy living and learning “in the bush.” When not teaching or composing, you can find Elizabeth researching the Bible through books and podcasts, trail running, hosting meals for friends and travelers, watching her sons ride motorbikes, or pursuing drawing and watercolor as an amateur artist. One day she hopes to learn a thing or two about gardening. You can listen to her music for learning scripture at www.musictomemorize.org. Email email@example.com
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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