The Bible includes poetry, legal documents, songs, letters, eyewitness accounts, biography, historical documents and advice literature. These may be categorised into five different types of books written in different genres.
Historical books: these books give an account of special events in the life of the Jewish people. They are not history as we know today, but a record of God leading his people through episodes and characters e.g. 2 Samuel 2, David is made king of Judah.
Poems and hymns: these could be a prayer as a thanksgiving or in praise of God. They were used at daily services in the Temple and synagogue, and today by Jewish people and Christians in their worship e.g. Psalm 117 Praise the Lord all you nations.
Wise sayings: these are short and easy-to-remember sayings, used by people in their everyday lives e.g. Proverbs 6: 6-11 Learn from the ant.
Good News: the Gospels. They are not a biography of Jesus, but record the memories about Jesus and of those whose lives were changed through contact with him e.g. Matthew
18: 1-5. Jesus welcomes children.
Letters: (to be discussed in detail in Learning Focus 5.) This is an exercise to help children handle their Bibles more easily. Ask the children to open their Bibles at the half-way mark
and notice which book they have arrived at. It is likely to be around Sirach or Wisdom. It will certainly be in the Old Testament. Whilst keeping their Bibles open at the half way point, ask them to open the half to the left, that is the first quarter, which could be around Kings. Then do the same on the right hand half that could be Mark or John. Ask them to find the start of the Gospels and notice how much of the Bible is the New Testament.
Looking up Biblical text takes a little practice. Like using a dictionary, it helps to know where to begin to look. When you want to read a particular text in the Bible, you would use a reference for example 1 Kings 10: 23-25. Ask them which part of the Bible they are likely to find it in.
1 Kings that is the first book of Kings
10 is the number of the chapter in that book
23-25 refers to the verses in that chapter. These are the small numbers used to divide up the chapter.
In the first pages of most Bibles, there are the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments and the abbreviations of those names and the pages where they can be found: e.g. Genesis – Gen, Jeremiah – Jer, Timothy – Tim.
Note the difference between ‘apostle’ (those sent out) and ‘disciples’ (followers).
Learning Focus 2: Kinds of books in the Bible
Is 44: 2, Ps 24: 13-14, Lk 22: 54-57, Mt 21: 1-5,
Make a note of which book of the Bible it comes from, what genre of writing it is and a note of the main content of the passage.