Reading the Bible from the perspective of different generations (a project)

Iconography of the Prophet Micah (via ‘The Ohio Anglican’ blog)

I have some students who have asked if they can do anything to earn some extra credit to help their grades, and of course, I have students who will do as much extra credit as possible to perfect their grades. So, I’ve created a project that answers those requests while also providing me with data I’ll find valuable. In other words, basically, I’m a modern tech company: I provide a service; you provide me information!

I’m calling the assignment the ‘Multi-Generational Reading Project’. Here’s the basic purpose and instructions I’ll be sharing with students today:

Purpose

This extra credit assignment pairs a student with an adult in their life. The adult can be a parent, a guardian, an aunt or uncle, grandparent, or any adult with whom the student has a meaningful connection. The goal (on my end) is to see what similarities and differences I can observe in how people from different generations read and interpret the Bible. The benefit for the student is the extra credit and hopefully a unique, shared experience with the aforementioned adult.

Instructions:

Below, you’ll find an excerpt from a passage from the Jewish Tanakh/Christian Old Testament. Please read the passage separately at first. Then both of you will email me at b.leport@tmi-sa.org answering the questions I’ve posted below the passage excerpt. Please do this separately as well. When you’ve both sent your email, then you can come together and discuss how you both understood the passage. Once your discussion is finished, the student should then email me again with five observations from your discussion (e.g., What did your interpretations have in common? In what way were they different? Did you share approaches to finding out more about something you don’t know offhand?)

The passage I chose (thank you Daniel A. for the recommendation) is Micah 6.1-8 (NIV). This is a short excerpt making it easier on the adult who agrees to participate. Also, it has elements that may be confusing to those who are less biblically literate (e.g., who are Balak and Balaam), elements that are more familiar (e.g, references to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam), and then what we might call ‘moralistic’ statements open to interpretation (e.g., ‘what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’).

These are the questions I’ve asked my students to share with the adult they choose. My goal is that they would read the passage, separately, answer these questions via email, separately, and then they’d come back together to discuss. The student is required to send me a follow-up email about their discussion where they make five observations about how they read the Bible in juxtaposition with the adult with which they’ve paired. Here are my questions:

Contextual:

  1. What do you know about the Book of Micah without researching it?
  1. If you wanted to know more—like who Micah was, or who his audience was, or what his message was—where would you go (to what sources or people) to find that information? How would you get access to these sources/people?
  1. Why would you choose these sources/people? Why do you find them trustworthy? 

Interpretive (answer without researching):

  1. Why do you think this author depicts God as appealing to the mountains/hills to hear his case in verses 1-2? 
  1. What’s the value of mentioning Moses, Aaron, and Miriam in verse 4?
  1. What’s the value of mentioning Balak and Balaam in verse 5?
  1. Rhetorically, what’s the point of questioning the sacrificial system in verses 6-7?
  1. In your opinion, what does it mean in verse 8 to ‘act justly’? What does it mean to ‘love mercy’? What does it mean to ‘walk humbly with your God?’

My hope is that this gets students to talk with their parents, or grandparents, or someone about the Bible they’ve been studying this semester. The Thanksgiving Break is a great time for a project like this. Selfishly, I’m interested to see what similarities and differences emerge as I compare how students read the Bible with the adults in their lives.

3 Replies to “Reading the Bible from the perspective of different generations (a project)”

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