New address: 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409.

Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

Program Structure (Wisdom from the Hebrew Scriptures)

The program comprises eight workshops of ninety minutes each. Because each ends with worship, the workshops are well-suited to Sunday morning multigenerational gatherings. They will also work well for multigenerational programs on a weeknight or a weekend day. If you use them in this fashion, consider incorporating a meal and social time into the experience.

Workshop Structure

Each workshop begins with the entire multigenerational group meeting together, where the leader shares the story as it is written in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Participants then retell the story by acting it out, considering the points of view and emotions of the characters in the story.

After retelling the story, participants separate into interest-based groups for further processing of the story. While some groups may be more attractive to adults and youth and other more attractive to younger children, participants will divide based on activity interest and not age. Generally, the options include:

  • Discussion (generally intended for youth and adults)
  • Drama (intended for people of all ages)
  • Art activities (intended for people of all ages)
  • Alternate activities such as cooking, music-making, or experiences in the out-of-doors (intended for people of all ages and friendly to younger children)

After meeting in the interest groups, participants gather for multigenerational conversation and worship, which includes contributions from each activity group.

Sequence of stories

There are two timelines that are important to understanding the Hebrew scriptures.

The first timeline is the history of the ancient Hebrew people and their kingdoms: Israel and Judea. These two kingdoms emerged no sooner than the ninth century BCE, under the leadership of their founding kings, King David and his son Solomon. David and Solomon were powerful figures, uniting disparate tribes into wealthy and sophisticated kingdoms whose capital was Jerusalem. Israel and Judah flourished for a while, but were too small to resist their more powerful neighbors, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greco-Romans, and the Romans. This small pair of kingdoms, politically insignificant at that time, are still known today not for their military or political power, but for their history and religious thoughts preserved in what we now know as the Hebrew scriptures.

The stories and books of the Hebrew scriptures were composed at different times in the history of the kingdoms. The writing of the Hebrew scriptures was started within the court of kings David and Solomon. Some of the resulting material is a history of events of the time. Some is a highly flattering story of King David, including events from his childhood. Some of the writings from that era are retellings of the stories and legends about Israel's founding and the beginnings of the Jewish people.

In the 6th century BCE, when Israel and Judea were under threat from the neighboring Assyrians or Babylonians, more writings were added to the scriptures. Writers known as the Prophets wrote religious and theological reflections on the current events of their times. In 598 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzer invaded and took away several thousand Israelites to live in Babylon. Further deportations occurred in 586 and 582 BCE. Many of those deported were the political, economic, and religious leaders of Jerusalem. Those difficult times were known as the Babylonian captivity. After the defeat of Babylon by Persia in 539 BCE, the leaders of the Hebrews were returned to Jerusalem. Some of the writings of the Hebrew scriptures date from this period, when the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt and the Israelite religion was reconstituted and reformulated.

The first timeline about the Hebrew scriptures shows the order in which it was written. The second timeline necessary to understand the Hebrew scriptures is the story of the Jewish people that it tells. Some portions of that story are fanciful and legendary, while some are recorded memories of past historical events. Still others describe events contemporary to the writers. The first timeline is the History of the Bible, and the second is the Biblical History of the Hebrew People.

The table below lists the eight stories from this program. The workshops consider stories in the order in which they were written or collected (the History of the Bible) and not in the order of the events they describe (the Biblical History of the Hebrew People, as sequenced in the Hebrew Bible). Exploring the stories in the order in which they were written allows participants to better understand the evolution of how God was understood as a response to the events of Hebrew history.

Workshop

Story

Time it Depicts

Time Written or Collected/ Nature of Subject

1

David and Goliath

David's Childhood

900 BCE

David's Rule/

Biography of King

2

David and Nathan — You are That Man!

Later part of David's Rule

David's Rule/

Current Events

3

Manna in the Wilderness

Desert Period after leaving Egypt

1200 BCE (?)

David's Rule/

Legend

4

The Battle of Jericho

Conquering the Promised Land — after Egypt and before David

1100 BCE (?)

David's Rule/

Legend

5

Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham

Stories of the first Hebrews before slavery in Egypt

Mythical time

David's Rule/

Legend

6

The Binding of Isaac

Stories of the first Hebrews before slavery in Egypt

Mythical time

David's Rule/

Legend

7

Isaiah — Exile and Hope

During the Babylonian Exile, which began in 586 BCE

During Exile/

Current events

8

Creation

The beginning of the universe

Post Exile/ Mythical material edited by priestly redactor

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation

 

Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation