Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Old Testament History by Arthur W. Klinck (Concordia Leadership Training Series)

(Gotta love that coffee cup stain!)

The Concordia Leadership Training Series (earlier called Concordia Teachers Training Series) produced excellent, concise, yet comprehensive training booklets originally designed for Sunday School teachers to use for their own education and preparation. The first series of these booklets are superb in their summarization and presentation of what a teacher of religion ought to know concerning a particular subject. The second series of these booklets are almost exclusively focused on how to teach (certainly an important subject in itself), yet they are rather enthralled with modern psychology and teaching methods. Suffice to say, they are of a lesser quality than the first series (late 30's and early 40's). [For two excellent resources on pedagogy and the nuts and bolts of how to teach, see: A Christian Pedagogy and How to Teach in Sunday School.]

Arthur W. Klinck wrote two of the original series' booklets: Old Testament History and Home Life in Bible Times, which was revised twice and is still sold today by CPH as Everyday Life in Bible Times.

Old Testament History is an excellent summary of OT history in just over 100 pages. Of special note are the first 12 pages, which are worth the book alone. I have never seen such a clear, succinct, and memorable description of the Holy Land that quickly imparts a level of familiarity to the reader--even to one that is unfamiliar with the basic geography of the region. Being a map lover myself, and one whom insists on my students learning geographical details, I am familiar with teaching the material. However, after reading his brief section on "Old Testament Lands and People" [pictured below], I have adopted Klinck's method and approach. He includes his own self drawn maps which are good examples of how simple it is to quickly produce simple maps in any classroom with a board. He wraps up the chapter with a brief look to other nearby lands and how the Israelites were kept a "peculiar people."

Giving the students a firm foundation in basic geography and other physical facts greatly aids in memorization and comprehension of the stories. And, if we truly believe that, "Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters," perhaps we should honor and regard as precious those particular places, details, and people that the Lord chose for His great plan of salvation! It shows how the theological message is inseparable from the particular way God worked in the world, just as the Spirit works by the Word and we are to seek Him there.

The rest of Klinck's brief study continues its excellent summarization, connection to the broader narrative, Christocentricity, and comprehensiveness. From the introduction by W.O. Kraeft:

The teacher of religion will want to study not only the prophecies of the Messiah, but also the people whom God led and directed in such marvelous a manner. In Old Testament history the teacher will find great men of God, characters whose lives remain to this day models of Christian virtues. Shall he ever grow weary of studying the faith of Abraham, the chastity of Joseph, the zeal for godly leadership exhibited by David? Shall he ever have learned completely the lessons that God teaches His followers of any age by the checkered loyalty of His people while they wandered through the wilderness or during the first centuries that they occupied the promised land of Cannan?...And certainly we remember also the cities and villages, the mountains and hills, the streams and lakes, that our Savior trod, the same places frequented by the great characters of the Old Testament...We want to know how the people lived...More important still--the Savior is to be found in the Old Covenant as well as the New...Important as it is, the Old Testament is being neglected. Every survey and every test that has been given either to children or adults shows a marked difference in knowledge of the Old Testament as compared with the New. In every case the New Testament scores much higher than the Old. Perhaps a revival of interest in the Old Testament might be expected if all Sunday-school teachers made a special study of this section of the Scriptures....And the teachers will improve as they become aware of their deficiency, their limited knowledge in this field, and as they get a workable method of improvement.

And if anything, on this front things are far worse today. Those words should be taken to heart by every pastor, teacher, and parent. Know your Bible, even the OT!

Need to Get Level: 6/10

It is an excellent booklet for basic OT knowledge. Get it if you can regardless if you are a pastor or layman. There are not many of these available online, however they are worth searching for and keeping an eye out when a church library is getting overhauled or a pastor is giving away books.

Here is a link to a few more copies.

[Below are the Introduction, Table of Contents, and first chapter.] 







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