God's Great Covenant: New Testament 1
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.
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.
- 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)
- Students should also be prepared to regularly print PDF files supplied by the instructor.
Elizabeth Kaufman 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 at home for the past eight years. 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 students and families to learn scripture together and to sing through liturgical seasons. She believes that every course of study is an invitation to witness God’s redemptive work in the world, to be formed and transformed by it, and to engage with Him in 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 studying classical ed, you can find Elizabeth trail running, composing new music, doing laundry, hosting meals for friends and travelers, or attempting (poorly) to ride motorbikes with her boys. You can listen to her music for learning scripture at www.musictomemorize.org. firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE & WHEN does Jesus arrive in the timeline of God’s Great Covenant?
**BIBLICAL FOCUS: **
- We begin by asking what is covenant? In a quick overview, we see that God’s covenant with His people has been consistent and unfolding throughout the Old Testament. This is foundational work that sets the stage for the rest of the course, as we constantly will notice patterns, phrases, and concepts in the New Testament that point us to the Old. Without this connection, the birth and life of Jesus sort of floats in time & space.
- We also consider the experience of the nation of Israel during the Inter-testament period and into the first century AD. This quarter is meant to anchor our understanding of Christ as a fulfillment of God’s Covenant within the context of time and space, and to extend our understanding of Jesus as a living hope for His people beyond the confines of time and space.
- This quarter is meant to anchor our understanding of Christ as a fulfillment of God’s Covenant within the context of time and space, and to extend our understanding of Jesus as a living hope for His people beyond the confines of time and space.
- Scholarly treatment of an ancient text
- Recognizing relationship between text & context
- Setting up a common-place notebook,
- Accurate narration from text,
- Creative narration from perspective,
- Timeline work.
WHO were the Disciples & WHY is it Important that we have Four Gospels?
- Taking a closer look at the life of Jesus in his early years makes him “come alive” as a real person who entered human history.
- We consider how Jesus’s most used name (Son of Man) defines not only his identity, but also His relationship to God and to us!
- We also investigate how the four gospel accounts are not divergent but consistent accounts written in various styles with various effects helping to create a more solid case of “the parts complete the whole.”
- In order to better understand this, we engage in activities that help us to see how multiple testimonies around events in our own lives work in much the same way. This approach to the gospels creates a deeper interest in and understanding of what was recorded, how it was told and why.
- We also spend time considering the various ways Jesus invited his disciples to follow him, helping us to think about how He might also invite us. All of this gives us a sense that the birth and early life of Jesus was at once rich, mysterious, joyous, cosmic and personal.
- Oral retelling
- Reference to past learning (i.e. quarter 1)
- Socratic dialogue
- Organizing information
- Word-study - grammar / parts-of-speech
- Looking-up scripture references
- Understanding footnotes
HOW is Jesus’s Kingdom “Upside-Down” & WHAT difference does it make?
- We follow Jesus throughout Palestine and witness his interactions with people from all classes and positions in society.
- Our earlier study of the roles of prophets, priest and kings from the Old Testament (covered in Quarter 1) helps us to see how Jesus fulfills all three of these roles and up-ends expectations of what Messiah would be like.
- We begin to see how Jesus establishes a “new law” by fulfilling the “old law” and living the law out perfectly as further fulfillment of his Covenant established from the beginning of creation.
- We consider the constant conflict between Jesus and the Sanhedrin, and we investigate the perspectives of Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and Roman rulers in order to better understand why Jesus was a controversial character.
- Above all, we also consider Him as consistently loving. As we watch and listen-in on Jesus’s interactions with the poor and vulnerable in society, we join the disciples in wondering what kind of Messiah is this?
- Referencing OT scripture to form NT perspective
- Using scripture in dialogue
- Role-playing in historical context
- Recording Who, What, Where, When, Why, How details with accuracy
- Reflective writing
HOW is Christ’s Death, Resurrection & Ascension both a Fulfillment and a Continuation of God’s Great Covenant?
- In the events surrounding Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection, we recognize that His social/religious/political “rise and fall” were actually His sovereign/faithful/spiritual “fall and rise.”
- We consider: What are our own expectations and notions of Jesus?
- We trace the events leading up to his death and resurrection carefully, considering why these details were recorded for us.
- Beyond the physical events, we draw on our study of Jesus’s fulfillment of the law and the prophets to consider the spiritual meaning of his resurrection for us personally.
- We end considering Jesus’s parting demonstrations of love, forgiveness and invitation and wonder together about what His new life means for us in light of personal reflection and Protestant doctrine.
- Our final project is to pen a guided reflective epilogue as if we were a contemporary of the disciples, pulling together texts and concepts that we have covered throughout the year and drawing conclusions that summarize our learning as expressed by one of the leaders of the early Christian church, Saint Augustine: “The Son of God became the Son of Man that you who were the sons of men might be made sons of God.”
- Annotating texts
- Asking and answering intriguing questions
- Grade-level writing skills
- Organizing information,
- Drawing conclusions by citing evidence.
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.
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.
Scanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.
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