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Monday, March 4, 2019

"Bible Workbook Vol 2 New Testament" (Catherine B. Walker)

TITLE: Bible Workbook, Volume 2 -- New Testament
AUTHOR: Catherine B. Walker
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2019, (72 pages).

For those who have used the first volume on the Old Testament, this workbook brings a familiar look and feel. Like the predecessor, this workbook was written for high school Bible classes that meet every day for a semester. Thus, the workbook can be used as a common text to help students work through the New Testament and learn its major themes. Readers ought to pay attention to the first page "Note to the Teacher" so as to know how to optimize the use of this workbook. Walker gives us a good idea on what parts of the New Testament to begin with and when to go more in depth. The purpose is to urge students to read the Bible more regularly and frequently. Highlights include:

  • Author;
  • People;
  • Occasion;
  • Theme;
  • Outline;
  • Key Verse(s);
  • Things for you to do;
  • Reasons for Studying the Bible book;
  • Things to Watch For.

This book starts with a connector: "From Malachi to Matthew." The Bible is largely silent for this 400 years. Walker fills int the gap with some helpful information about the Persian; Greek; Maccabean; and Roman periods. The Introduction to the New Testament is informative. There is quite a lot of material about Christ, which is rightly so. After all, Christ is the main figure in the New Testament. I like the way terms are explained and maps are given to give us an idea of the terrain. There are different angles in which the gospels are studied.
  • Using miracles as a springboard into the purposes of Jesus;
  • Understanding the gospel characters;
  • Using places as a guide to spur our study;
  • Study of the parables; Great Parables of the Kingdom;
  • Significance of the king;
  • Sermon on the Mount;
  • Journey to Jerusalem;
  • Birth narratives; Gospel uniqueness;
  • Passion Week
The author places a heavy emphasis on the gospels. In just a few pages, one gets the gist of the uniqueness of each gospel. By working through each gospel exercise pages, students would be equipped to describe the gospel overview effectively. Sometimes, it does seem like students are invited to write a mini-commentary on the gospels. There is significant material on the book of Acts. Walker links the ministry of Paul with the epistles he wrote. We do get a chance to work through each epistle, albeit briefly. Maps are provided to help readers get a sense of Paul's missionary journeys. The section on Revelation is too brief. I suspect the constraint is essentially time. This is understandable. Squeezing an overview of the New Testament into one semester is in itself already a challenging task. That last part of the book helps to summarize the entire Bible as the author compares and contrasts the key themes of Genesis and Revelation.

Compared with Vol 1, this workbook is relatively more familiar to a lot of readers. Perhaps, it is due to the popularity of the New Testament. I think going through this volume would be less challenging for the student compared with the Old Testament. That said, we must not let the initial familiarity fool us. While the author has tried to make the Bible workbooks more accessible to the general reader, real learning begins only if we put in the effort to learn, to research, to read the Bible with humble hearts, and to ask good questions. As we reflect on the work, there would be moments in which the Bible would ask questions of us! That is why studying the Word of God is no ordinary feat. It is God revealing and speaking to us today.

Catherine B Walker has taught at the Indonesian Baptist Theological Seminary for 26 years. She has authored several workbooks and theological textbooks in the Indonesian language.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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