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Bible Interpretation and Science

Bible Interpretation and Science

Learn the principles and methods Christians use to understand and apply the meaning of Scripture, paying special attention to the Bible’s ancient context.

Title:

Bible Interpretation and Science

Corequisite science:

Nature of science

Number of modules:

8

Teaching time:

4:30-6:00 hours

Format:

Digital download

Language:

English

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God’s word was written for us, but not to us.

Christians agree that the Bible is God’s inspired word, the source of truth that guides our faith and practice. But there is so much debate about what some passages mean and whether we should expect Scripture to agree with science. How can you prepare your students to hear the truth the Bible reveals in their modern scientific cultural context?

Essential Questions

  • What kinds of answers can we expect from the Bible?
  • Why is unity important in the church?
  • What are some good principles for interpreting Scripture?
  • How does cultural context affect our understanding of the Bible?
  • Should we expect the Bible to agree with science?
  • How does understanding ancient literature help us interpret Genesis 1?
  • What is “the firmament” in the Old Testament?
  • How should Christians approach disagreement over science and Genesis?

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Learning Outcomes

What will students know or be able to do after this unit?

  • Explain the importance of unity for the church.
  • Describe how paying attention to the Bible’s original audience, purpose, literary forms, and cultural context helps a reader understand the Bible better.
  • Analyze how differences in language, cultural concepts, experience, and background knowledge affect biblical interpretation.
  • Compare and contrast concordist and divine accommodation expectations about how science and the Bible fit together.
  • Identify elements of ancient Near East (ANE) cosmology that appear in the Genesis 1 creation account.
  • Use a literary approach to analyze the Genesis 1 creation account in terms of realms and inhabitants.
  • Evaluate the influence of concordist and divine accommodation approaches on the interpretation of young earth creationist, old earth creationist, and evolutionary creationist authors.

Modules Included in this Unit

8.1 Meet: Old Testament Scholar Tremper Longman III

Dr. Longman III describes his calling to study the Bible professionally and how we can all benefit from understanding the Bible as a collection of ancient books.

8.2 Grow: Unity

In this brief devotional, students reflect on how Christians can contribute to the overall health and mission of the church by working towards unity with other believers.

8.3 Engage: Interpreting Scripture

Students are introduced to the origin and purpose of the Bible and some questions to ask when trying to understand a Bible passage.

8.4 Engage: Cultural Context Then and Now

Students examine how different cultures and experiences affect the way a person understands meaning.

8.5 Engage: Harmonizing Science and Scripture

Students learn the differences between concordism and divine accommodation, which are two approaches to harmonizing modern science and the Bible. They identify their own preferred approach to Scripture and note which commitments they share or don’t share with people who prefer the other approach.

8.6 Engage: Ancient Cosmology and Literary Structure of Genesis 1

Students look for elements of ancient cosmology in Genesis 1 and learn about non-concordist literary approaches to interpreting the creation account.

8.7 Engage: Concordism and Divine Accommodation Case Study

Students compare interpretations of passages that refer to raqia (“the firmament” or “vault of heaven”) in the Old Testament to see how young earth creationist, old earth creationist, and evolutionary creationist interpreters approach difficulties that surround the interpretation of the word.

8.8 Integrate: Disagreeing Well

Students consider strategies for having productive dialogue and then practice what they have learned by engaging someone of a different perspective in a conversation about Genesis.


The Integrate curriculum is the resource I wish my students had in high school, and what my own kids will get to go through. It offers a positive Christian posture toward science generally, and handles with grace and sensitivity the topic of evolution. 

Kenneth Turner, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages, Toccoa Falls College, Toccoa Falls, GA

What’s Included

  • Unit lesson plans (PDF download; 45 pages)
  • User Introduction and Overview (Google Doc)
  • 10 student handouts (Google Docs or Google Slides)
  • 2 slide presentations (Google Slides)
  • 4 answer keys (Google Docs)
  • 10 images for printing or projecting (JPEG)
  • Integrate Glossary (Google Docs, 64 pages)
  • NGSS Alignment (Google Doc)

Integrate equips parents and teachers in an engaging way, fearlessly approaching science and faith as complements, putting in the hands of educators a user-friendly tool to help raise students to think beyond their tradition or one-sided science text and pursue both good science and the beauty of scripture. 

Cynthia Townsend
Cynthia Townsend, Home Educator and Bible Teacher, Baton Rouge, LA