Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Curriculum Review–Revelation for Everyone

When I picked up Wild Man from camp this summer, he told me all about everything he had done during the week and everything he had learned, including all about what was going to happen in the “end times”. He had learned the popular “premillenial dispensationalist” perspective from his counselors which includes the Pre-tribulation rapture of the church, etc. I didn’t object to his hearing this – he is a teenager, after all. He’s certainly old enough to learn about different points of view. It did, though, remind me that PWM and I needed to make sure he got another perspective rather soon.

Things worked out pretty easily because Wild Man said that he wanted to learn more about Revelation, particularly what PWM and I believe. So, I started looking for a good curriculum for him. I have several really good books on Revelation, particularly that address the use of apocalyptic language, but they are college/seminary level books and not great for a 14 year old. I wasn’t crazy about what I saw for homeschool curriculum.

Then I was reminded of N.T. Wright’s “For Everyone” series of commentaries. I don’t know if they are available for the entire New Testament yet, but they are available for many of the epistles and for Revelation. Revelation for Everyone has been great for Wild Man. The reading level is right about high school age and it’s written for a general audience and doesn’t assume a high level of previous biblical knowledge.

It’s a commentary, not a curriculum, so there are no comprehension or study questions. But, it does have something of a devotional/application tone to it. Wright handles each passage separately, with an introduction, an explanation, and then a little wrap-up/application/lesson. They don’t have “3 action steps” for each section or anything like that, but he does make sure to have a summary at the end of the section.

What I mostly like about this commentary is Wright’s overall approach to Revelation. He looks at the original author, audience, and context to try to figure out the meaning of what are, admittedly, very confusing passages. He doesn’t spend much time detailing apocalyptic literature, but gives a brief explanation. While he doesn’t assume that the reader has a strong grasp of Old Testament apocalyptic literature, he doesn’t hesitate to explain the images that refer back to these passages. And he explains why the first century church would have understood these images so readily.

Wright does not take the premillenial dispensationalist point of view, which is one reason I chose this particular commentary. I think that Wright’s perspective makes the most sense and I hope that my kids will agree. But, I really wanted Wild Man to read that bible scholars can disagree on some of these issues while still taking scripture very seriously. And I think it’s working.

How are we using this as a curriculum? I have Wild Man read one section each day and then I give him a question to answer in his notebook. Given his dyslexia, this pushes the language part of his brain! He has also started several discussions about what he is reading – sometimes just discussing what Revelation says, sometimes comparing Wright’s perspective to what he learned at camp.

I can strongly recommend this for personal study or for homeschool use. If using it as curriculum, you may choose to add questions or other writing or response, depending on your educational philosophy. I prefer using “real” books, including commentaries, as much as possible for home education, and this one fits quite well into our home education plan.

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