Richard Franklin reports for the Bible Society that a new textbook is set to revolutionise the way Bible is studied in schools.
The Art of Bible Reading features paintings by Devon-based visual artist Brian J Turner who is in the process of painting 3,000 artworks that will cover all the stories in the Bible. Eight of these have been incorporated into the book which has been written by academics at the University of Exeter and produced in partnership with Bible Society.
It invites pupils to explore and interpret the meaning of biblical stories in a new way looking at individual Bible stories, like Noah and the flood and Jesus turning water into wine, and at the overarching story of God’s Salvation, which runs through the Bible as whole.
Art is used throughout the textbook as a stimulus to get both secondary school teachers and pupils to see how the artist has interpreted the selected biblical stories. Brian Turner’s colourful and quirky images provide a stimulus for pupils to think about how they and other people, both within and outside the Christian community, read, interpret and respond to the Biblical stories upon which the images are based.
The textbook also looks at how the church has been shaped by the Bible’s story and shapes how Christians interpret biblical stories. It also explores the personal life-stories of pupils, including their communities, traditions and cultures, whether Christian or not, and how these influence, and are influenced by, their reading of Bible stories.
Dr Rob Freathy from the University of Exeter’s Graduate School of Education says: ‘The stylised art work by Brian J Turner is capable of stimulating some profound thinking about the meaning of biblical texts.
‘It will open up pupils to new ways of engaging with the Bible and enable them to reflect on how their life-stories influence their interpretation of the biblical stories and how the biblical stories in turn influence their understanding of the world.’
Matthew Van Duyvenbode, Bible Society’s Head of Campaigns Advocacy and Media says ‘We’re passionate that every child should have the opportunity to experience the Bible in rich and diverse ways, so Bible Society has been delighted to partner with the University of Exeter in developing this resource.
‘At one of the pilot experiences for local schools, it was fascinating to hear the ways in which providing a visual stimulus helped students explore deep biblical themes and how these themes relate to their own experiences. I’d strongly recommend The Art of Bible Reading as an innovative and engaging resource.’
The Art of Bible Reading is available for purchase from Kevin Mayhew either as a student textbook or as a teacher textbook with an accompanying CD-Rom containing electronic versions of the books, copies of Brian J. Turner’s painting and interviews with the artist.
Some other ways Bible Society is helping pupils and students experience Bible stories in schools and colleges
Open The Book – Open the Book volunteers from local churches tell Bible stories to children in schools.
Empty Hanger – Run by Bible Society this is an interactive presentation developed at the London College of Fashion designed to get children thinking about design, fashion and faith using characters from the Bible.
Crossref-it – Bible Society has invested in a one-stop resource providing high quality, easy-to-use resources for AS and A-Level students.