Ideas for Bible research project
Biblical literature oral reports
A major goal of this Oral Report assignment in Introduction to Biblical Literature is to
introduce you to the usefulness of Bible dictionaries (or Bible encyclopedias as they might more
Here's what to do:
- Sign up on the sheet on the classroom bulletin board that has a list of dates and topics.
Write the reporting date you have chosen in your personal master calendar of assignment due
- Prepare a 2-3 page written report on the topic
- Use the questions given to get started
- Research your topic by interviewing a pastor and then looking in at least three
- Read some of the biblical passages mentioned in the Bible dictionaries.
- Prepare a typed, double-spaced report in your own words
- Do not succumb to the temptation to simply copy material from the Bible dictionaries or
other sources. All direct quotes must be enclosed in quotes and documented. [ Sample entries ]
- Prepare a bibliography page to attach at the end of the report. List the sources you used,
including the interview of a pastor. [ more
- Give your oral report on the date you selected
- Turn in your written report that same day
How to cite internet sources in your
Here's how to get the class excited about what you discovered:
- Make your oral report last 5 to 8 minutes
- Do not read your manuscript word for word
- Use creative presentation methods. Bring a visual of some kind. Make a poster. Do a
Some Bible dictionaries/encyclopedias in print format
Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel
Freedman, 6 vols.,1992.
Harper's Bible Dictionary, ed. Paul J.Achtemeier, 1985.
Harper's Encyclopedia of Bible Life, ed. Madeline S and J. Lane Miller.
Holman Bible Dictionary, ed. Trent C. Butler, 1991.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas, 3 vols., 1980.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 4
Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. George A Buttrick, 4 vols. +suppl,
Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill C. Tenney, 5 vols,
Topics and starter questions
(with thanks to Dr. Dennis Bratcher)
- What do we mean by a "canon" of scripture? How does the Jewish canon differ from the
Christian Canon? How does the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canon differ from that used by
the Protestants? Why?
- Names of God
- What are the major names and titles used for God in the Old Testament? Where did Israel
get these names? What is their significance?
- Tell Abraham's life story. How strong was Abraham's faith through this story? How does
the Old Testament account compare with the New Testament view of Abraham (Hebrews
- Tell Jacob's life story. What was Jacob like as a person? How does he change as in the
- Briefly tell Joseph's life story. Did God do great miracles for Joseph? What was Joseph's
final view of God's work in his life?
- Tell Moses' life story. What things hindered Moses from being a good leader? How then
could he have led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt? [ more on
- Tell Aaron's life story. Why is he an important Bible character? For what act did God
- What is Passover? How was it celebrated in Old Testament
times? How is it celebrated by modern Jews? What
significance does Passover have for Christians?
- Recount the event and its importance rather than just describing the book. Describe the
- Tell Joshua's life story. In what ways is he important to Bible history.
- Canaanites and Philistines
- Who are were the various groups of people that were collectively called Canaanites? What
was the relationship of the Philistines to Phoenicia and Crete. Why were both of these groups a
problem for the Israelites?
- What was a judge? Summarize the period of the Judges, especially emphasizing three or
four of them and their time of leadership. Were these Judges godly people?
- Briefly tell Samuel's life story, beginning with his mother's prayer for a child. What role did
Samuel play in Israel's history? What was Samuel's relationship with Israel's first kings?
- Saul (Old Testament)
- Tell Saul's life story. What factors caused his downfall? What good things came out of his
- Tell David's life story. What were his greatest accomplishments? In what area did he
- How did Solomon get to be king of Israel? How would you describe his reign? What were
his greatest achievements? In what areas did he fail?
- Priest / Temple
- What were the two main responsibilities of Old Testament priests? What role did the
Temple play in Israelite society? When and why did the temple and priesthood become a symbol
of disobedience to God?
- Who was Baal? How did Baal fit into the worship practices of ancient Canaanites? Why did
Baal worship have so much influence on the Israelites?
- Recount Elijah's life story. What were his important contributions to the understanding of
- What are two major points of contact in the Old Testament between the Israelites and the
Assyrians? Why were the Assyrians so feared in the Ancient world? Why could they never totally
- Prophets / Prophecy
- Why is the popular idea that prophets predict the future not adequate to describe Old
Testament prophets? What was a biblical prophet's primary role? What does it mean to say that a
prophet is "called" by God?
- Amos, Hosea
- When and to whom so these prophets address their message? How do the messages
compare? Why is Amos so concerned with social justice? What is the significance of Hosea's use
of the metaphor of marriage
- Hezekiah, Josiah
- Briefly tell the circumstances surrounding the reign of these two kings. Why are they
remembered so positively? What were their major achievements? In what areas did they fail?
- Ahaz, Manasseh
- Briefly tell the circumstances surrounding the reign of these two kings. Why are they
remembered so negatively? What were their major achievements? In what areas did they fail?
- Briefly recount the historical and religious situation at the time of Isaiah's ministry as a
prophet. What was Isaiah's original message to Israel? How and why did it change?
- What kind of person was Jeremiah? What was the basic content of his message to Israel?
Was his message accepted? Why or why not?
- Babylonia, Exile
- Briefly recount the important aspects of the Babylonian conquest of Israel. Why did they
take captured people back to Babylon? What were the conditions of the exiled in Babylon, and
what was the effect of their condition on their faithfulness to God?
- Briefly tell Ezekiel's life story. What were some of the symbolic actions that he performed?
At what point did his message change from negative to positive? Why?
- Persia, Return from Exile
- How did Persia conquer Babylon? Why did the Persian king Cyrus allow the Israelites to
return home? What was the Israelite response to this freedom?
- Ezra and Nehemiah
- Tell their life stories. Why were they key figures in Israel's history?
- Who were the Maccabees? What were the circumstances surrounding the Maccabean
rebellion against Greek rule? What precipitated the rebellion? What was the result?
- Rome and the Roman Empire
- When and how did the Roman Empire begin to impact the Jewish people in Palestine? How
did it impact Jesus and His followers in the New Testament?
- Who was Herod the Great? What role did he have in the life of Jesus? Who were the
different members of Herod's family that had a role in the New Testament? What were they like
and what did they do in relationship to Jesus or others in the New Testament?
- What office did Pilate hold? What type of person was he? What role did he have in the New
- What does it mean to say that there is only one Gospel? What does Gospel
mean? What led to the writing of the four gospels? How is it that we have
four Gospels? How can the Gospel be one and four at the same time?
- When and why did the synagogue emerge? What is its significance in the New
- What was the Sanhedrin? Where was it located? What type of people were a part of it? How
much power did it have? How does the Sanhedrin relate to the story of Jesus and other events in
the New Testament?
- John the Baptist
- How do the Gospels portray the life, work, and message of John the Baptist? What are some
similarities and differences between John and Jesus?
- Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament
- How and Why does the New Testament quote or make reference to
the Old Testament? Give examples to illustrate your answer.
- What references are made to the Samaritans in the New Testament? What was their origin?
What are some of their religious ideas? What were their points of agreement and/or conflict with
the Jews? What was Jesus' attitude toward the Samaritans?
- Pharisees / Sadducees
- Describe these groups. What points of agreement and/or disagreement were there between
them and between them and Jesus?
- What all does the New Testament say about Peter? What is his significance in the New
- Briefly tell Paul's life story, making references to his letters and to the book of Acts.
- Disciples, Apostles
- What do these two words mean? What are the differences, if any, between an apostle, a
disciple, and a follower of Jesus? How many apostles did Jesus have and why such a number?
What does the New Testament say about these apostles: James, the son of Zebedee; Andrew;
Philip; Thomas; Matthew.
- Judaizers (see Paul's letter to Galatians)
- What was their message? In what books of the New Testament are their teachings most
- What does the word gnosticism mean? What are some Gnostic concepts and
how and why did they emerge? How are the basic ideas of gnosticism different from biblical
ideas that you have learned so far?
- John the Apostle
- What does the New Testament tell us about the personal life of the Apostle John, his
relationship to Jesus, and his apostolic role?
Want to get started on your memory work?
oral report not due for awhile? Do you want to get started on memorizing the Bible passages? [
-- Howard Culbertson,
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