How We Got the Bible

Obviously there is some disagreement, but this is a quick overview of some of the scholarship available. Below the video is a Sunday school lesson. It's designed for middle and high school but could be easily adapted for adults. Want a PDF of the lesson? Click the button below.

And there are two mistakes. About 2:35, it should say "bad things happen to good people," not the opposite. And the header above it should say "Wisdom." And the book of Revelation was likely written during the reign of the emperor Domitian, not Diocletian. I got my Roman emperors mixed up. Sorry about that.

Note: There are two (more than two, but we’re talking about two) ways to approach the Bible. One is to look at what the writers were trying to say to their audience at the time. The other is to figure out what the Bible means to us today. In this lesson, we’re not trying to get students to come to a conclusion about which is more important. We’re just trying to get them to think about the questions. You might want to talk about this distinction overtly.

1. After whatever opening you use, choose one of these:

  • Think of a story that made you feel something. It could be true, could be a movie, could be a book, could be something someone told you.

  • Have a selection of photos/video clips that are likely to elicit some kind of emotion.

2. Discussion:

  • What’s important to you about that story? or What stands out about the picture?

  • Do you know anyone else who knows the story and feels differently about it or remembers it differently? or Does anyone else see it differently?

  • How much do you know about where the story came from and who first told it? How much does that matter? or What do you want to know about this picture? Do you think knowing more would make you feel/think differently about it?

3. Watch the video.

4. Discussion:

  • Does knowing where the Bible comes from affect how you feel or think about it?

  • Do you have a favorite story or verse? What is it about it that connects with you? How much is its context important?

5. Have everyone find something in the Bible that is relevant to them. (Proverbs is a good place to start if they’re stuck. Have them read it and explain why they chose it. Does how we got the Bible affect their thinking about it?