Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review - Judah Bible Curriculum

Judah Bible Curriculum

Age: K - 12

Price:  $44 Online, $74 Hardcopy

The Judah Bible Curriculum is based on the model of the “Principal Approach” to Biblical study.  The “distinctive” for this approach as noted on the web site are:

  • The BIBLE is the textbook. The student studies and learns the Bible.
  • The student learns God's purpose in history, studying the hand of God in the lives of men and nations through the Bible.
  • The student develops his reasoning ability, helping him to apply Biblical principles personally.
  • The curriculum helps you shift from rote learning to Biblical reasoning.
  • The student learns the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the personal responsibility of the individual.
  • The student learns the relationship between individual character and national liberty.

While we have spent time each school year studying the Bible, the Judah Curriculum approach was new to me.  This is an extensive approach that requires a great deal of time investment by the teacher/parent in order to be prepared to teach the students.
The curriculum comes with a manual, an example elementary notebook (my boys are beyond this age level) and downloadable lectures.  There is no textbook because the Bible is your textbook.  The author notes that any translation of the Bible is acceptable.

I have to admit I found myself a little overwhelmed with the content of this curriculum.  The initial step is to listen to the eight teacher training lectures provided on the site.  Each lecture is about an hour long.  There are accompanying visuals for some of the lectures found at the end of the manual, but this isn’t made clear.  I didn’t realize this at first and would have benefitted from these illustrations.  I’m not an auditory learner, at all.  So, this approach was more difficult for me than it would have been for someone who learns auditorily.  My impression while listening to the videos was that learning to teach this course is a lot like taking a college instructor's commentary and notes, trying to intake all of the content and then replicate it to your students.  I would love to see the author, Bill Burtness, make videos of his lectures and include videos of using the curriculum in a class setting.

A Teacher Walkthrough section is provided online that helps the teacher grasp the week-by-week approach to teaching the concepts learned through the lectures.   The walkthrough provides a step-by-step approach for the first four lessons and a template to follow for lessons 5-40.   

The curriculum divides the Bible into five themes – Creation, The Plan of Redemption, The Kingdom of Israel, The Kingdom of God, and The Early Church.  Theme One , Creation,  is separated into five weeks each with a theme for that week.  Theme Two is broken into ten weeks, Theme Three is five weeks, Theme Four is eight weeks, and Theme Five is six weeks.  Again, each week has its own theme as well.  This is the first year.  Judah is a multi-year curriculum.

The curriculum provides the instructor with a weekly breakdown that includes the scriptures to be covered each week and the focal verse(s).  A study template is provided to help guide the teacher as he/she presents the material.  The guide suggests the following approach (simplified):

1.  Pray for God’s revelation of the passages

2.  Read the listed Bible passages

3.  Print out Key Sheets (I’ll cover this in a minute)

4.  Read passages again and fill out key sheets

5.  Read supplementary teaching when provided

6.  Expand your study – this can be done through the teacher finding supplementary content, maps or exercises for the student (not provided).

7.  Write down significant things learned this week

8.  Apply the knowledge to your own life

9.  Write an essay (if age appropriate)

10.  Build your notebook (I’ll cover this too)

Key Sheets (see below) noted in steps three and four are an important aspect of the research approach.  Blank sheets are provided to identify key individuals, events, institutions and documents for each weekly theme.  The author provides examples for each key sheet so that the instructor can see how they might be filled out.  I would note I’m disappointed that the examples are scanned, hand-written or typed documents (this is also true for the elementary example notebook) (See below).  I would prefer the author take the time to type up the sheets making them more legible.  Additionally, the blank sheets should be in an editable format .   Printing is fine, but an editable PDF or a Word processing document would make more sense for those that prefer typing to writing.

As a person who loves organization and lists, I really like the key sheet approach.  As a long-term, in-depth Bible course, really breaking down each set of scripture and analyzing the who, what and why is a terrific way to provide real depth of learning.  I especially like this approach for high school or adult learners where they can explore the implications of what the Bible is saying and do some comparison to today.

The Notebook in step 10 is another focal component of this curriculum.  The notebook allows the student to assemble a tool that he/she can use for lifelong Biblical reflection.  The key sheets along with any supplementary exercises provided by the parent are included in the notebook.  It is meant to be done neatly so it can be kept and used.   I did find it surprising that the curriculum doesn't provide the extras that students use for learning.  This may be because it is aimed at K-12 aged students.  However, when I purchase a curriculum, one of the things I look for is what is provided.  If I have to do a lot of extra work on my own, then the value of the curriculum lessens for me.

As I initially stated, I found this approach to be overwhelming.  It is clear to me that using this process in a thorough manner for several years would result in a very in-depth understanding of the Bible for both the student and the teacher.  If I were to use this long-term with my high schooler, I would first want to invest time throughout the summer understanding the approach, the themes, the breakdown of scripture and finding appropriate supplementary materials.  Be aware that this is a teacher intensive approach. 

To see how other TOS Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this curriculum - click here.

Disclaimer:  I received access to this curriculum free of charge as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Our thoughts on this curriculum are very similar. You did a nice job articulating that!

  2. Ditto! We felt the same way!


  3. Your review helps me to see the potential for this -- even in my home. I love how you briefly explained all the important parts and offered a few suggestions as well. I second the suggestions.


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