Memoria Press, known for its classically-oriented Latin and logic curriculum, also publishes Christian Studies, a four-year Bible course for grades 3-7. The series is designed for use by all Christians—Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox—and avoids an overwhelming bias in any direction. Matters such as the Apocrypha are addressed in the third book, to be taught (or not) at the teacher's discretion. Alternate versions of the ten commandments (Catholic & Protestant) are presented in the fourth. This is a knowledge-based study intended to familiarize students with the Bible itself, avoiding in-depth discussions of doctrine or theology.
How Do These Work?
Christian Studies presents a complete overview of the Bible. There is a Student Book and a Teacher Manual for each year; the Golden Children's Bible is used for the first three levels and was chosen for its simplified King James Version text and colorful, tasteful illustrations. Level four is self-contained, with no outside texts other than a Bible.
Each Student Book contains 25 two-page lessons which guide students through the Bible stories and provide supplemental historical and geographical information. Lessons are based on selected readings from the Golden Children's Bible (or, in level four, the Bible itself) and include a list of key facts from the passage, a memory verse and comprehension questions requiring thoughtful answers. Exercises requiring students to identify important locations on maps (included in the text) help students establish geographical familiarity with the lands of the Bible. Again, material is oriented to Bible knowledge, not doctrine or application. Each book also contains a number of appendices offering vocabulary building exercies, timelines, drill questions and other aids for knowledge reinforcement.
The books cover the biblical narrative chronologically. Level one covers Creation through the Exodus, level two discusses the time of the Judges through the time of the prophets, and level three deals with the New Testament from Jesus to the early Church. The sequential layout is designed to present redemptive history as real history and thus to build children's faith. Level four reviews (or surveys) the entire Bible, covering Genesis to Revelation at a much faster pace.
The Teacher Manual for each level contains answers to questions, ideas for activities, supplemental information and guidelines for teaching the course. (The series is fairly flexible and can work well as a teacher-intensive curriculum or as largely student-guided.) Teacher's notes and background material are provided for each lesson.
Most families start Christian Studies in third grade and finish in seventh; the publishers do not recommend using the course for high schoolers as the information is more basic and foundational. The books are written at the same difficulty level, but the information is sequentially ordered, so it is important that students, regardless of age, begin with Book One. It should only be skipped if the student has completed work covering the same material elsewhere.
Our Honest Opinion:
The student books are straightforward and plain; the Golden Children's Bible is visually inviting. Some may find the lack of doctrine or personal application distressing, though the course is designed to be largely informative. Because of this emphasis, however, the teacher's guides seem somewhat deficient; more information would be useful, or at least a substantial list of resources.
The series offers a solid overview. Students will certainly benefit from the detail, and the chronological layout helps students contextualize individual Bible stories within the overall narrative. Christian Studies is designed to integrate with other disciplines offered by Memoria Press (Latin, history, logic), but works well on its own. It claims to provide a strong foundation of Scriptural literacy, and it does. This is a very straightforward curriculum, easy to use and faithful in its intended purpose.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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