In the last few years the Bob Jones Bible Truths series has been one of our most-requested Bible curriculums for the elementary grades by home school families. Although originally designed for Christian schools, the series is easily adapted for homeschool use and covers grades K-12. Interestingly, Bob Jones Press doesn't provide a substantial overview of the curriculum in their catalog or on their website, so we are attempting a brief overview here. Please note that we do not currently carry K4, though we can order it.
As we've looked for reviews of the Bible Truths curriculum, we have found mostly positive comments from home school parents who appreciate the detailed teacher's manuals and engaging visual layout of the student texts. While the authors encourage teachers to study widely on their own (we concur), the material in the curriculum is extensive and self-contained. Ideas for illustrations, student activities and discussion topics provide a solid but flexible framework for classroom time. Material in the teacher and student texts is largely complementary and rarely repetitive. While key doctrines are discussed, emphasis is on practical application and personal holiness. More controversial topics are covered in the teacher's edition and are intended to help the teacher lead discussions with students.
How Do These Work?
The books in the Bible Truths series are meant to be used during the traditional school-year of September to June. In grades 1-6, this is especially obvious as each book is divided into 10 units, with a total of 36 parts. Most units contain four parts with the exception of the Christmas and Easter units (which have two). The parts include an average of 2-3 lessons which discuss Bible passages and concepts within their biblical and historical context. Each book is written around a central theme, reflected in its subtitle. Each grade level offers five main resources: the teacher's edition, student workbook, tests, tests answer key, and student materials. Of these five, we consider the workbook and the teacher's edition essential, the tests and test key optional, and the student materials unnecessary. The student materials serve as visual aids, but aren't particularly useful as the teacher's edition only refers to them in passing and they offer no additional information. The teacher's edition is the core of the curriculum, providing structured daily lessons that include background information, memory verses, hymns for singing, stories for the teacher to tell, and discussion topics, as well as reduced workbook pages with answers. These are all thoroughly outlined in the teacher text and fully supported with the worksheets in the student workbooks. The consumable workbook lessons average 1-2 pages. There are usually optional extras available, like larger visual aids (for a classroom), missionary biographies, and hymn CDs.
Junior High/High School:
The upper grade books (A-F) are more dependent on interactive discussion (remember that these were designed for a classroom setting). The teacher's material for each lesson averages 5-7 pages, and the student lessons—though not much longer than in the elementary grades (2-3 pages)—are more intensive. Instead of daily lessons, the books provide two lessons a week, with more time spent in discussion and study. Like the earlier grades, the teacher's book provides background information, memory verses, and discussion topics, but the lessons are less detailed, requiring more teacher direction and preparation. The content itself has more depth and focuses more on godly living and doctrine than in the early grades. Bob Jones has been revising these later books, giving them an updated look, enhancing the Teacher's Editions, and adding a CD-ROM.
During high school, BJU also offers an alternative (or supplement) to the Bible Truths curriculum. This is the Bible Modular series, a series of small worktexts that are concept-based. There are currently 14 of these, three recommended for each grade during high school, and two additional titles (although you can use them in any order you wish).
Our Honest Opinion:
While Bible Truths is the most visually stimulating Bible curriculum we carry, and is quite well-organized, we offer it with a couple of reservations. We disagree with the eschatology presented—Dispensational, pre-millennial—with its emphasis on the separation of Old and New Testament saints and its overly literal interpretation of Biblical prophecy. We believe very differently (click here to read a summary), but understand theirs is the predominant view. Our second issue is with the way it often issues moral statements in sweeping terms. For instance, Book E (11th grade) includes the remark that "Holiness is almost unknown among contemporary Christians" (pg. 11). While we all have our own ideas about this, such an unsupported comment seems unnecessarily combative and judgmental. Also (on page 38): "[cults and false teachers] do not know what they are talking about and the Christian should not have anything to do with them." To us the Great Commission teaches the exact opposite—we are called to disciple the nations, and being overly evasive or proud is not a good way to evangelize. (Note that this tendency is much more pronounced in the later grades than in the earlier ones; the elementary grades are more focused on basic information.)
Despite its negative aspects, the Bible Truths series is coherent and each book is appropriate in content and approach for its intended age level. Our concerns are based mostly on occasional remarks rather than overarching themes, though the eschatology becomes more prominent in the later books. With appropriate parental oversight and discretion, this series could be a good starting place for basic Bible knowledge and to begin wrestling with ways to apply it to everyday life.
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