Bible Lesson Questions
for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
The answers to almost all of these questions can be found (1) in the Bible Lesson itself, (2) in the Bible Lesson Study Aid [BLSA] at http://www.bibletexts.com/bl.htm, (3) in other webpages on the BibleTexts.com website, the homepage of which is at http://www.bibletexts.com, or (4) in Recommended Bible Study Books/Resources that are listed at http://www.bibletexts.com/reviews/index.htm.
SOME NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE LESSON
In 1898 when Mary Baker Eddy chose the 26 subjects for an entirely new Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson format, the Reverend Irving Tomlinson was one of the original members of the newly constituted Christian Science Bible Lesson Committee.
From 1888 to 1899 the Christian Science Bible Lesson Committee simply had directly copied to the Christian Science Quarterly the Bible citations that had been prepared by the multi-denominational International Lesson Committee [ILC] for the weekly International Sunday School Lessons used by Protestant churches. (The Church of Christ, Scientist, had no representation on that committee.) To those Bible Lessons the Christian Science Bible Lesson Committee added correlative citations from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which provided explanations of the Bible texts chosen by the ILC. Until 1898 the ILC-based Bible Lessons were a key component of both Christian Science church services and Christian Science Sunday School, which until 1895 included adult Sunday School classes. From 1898 to 1899 both the ILC-based Bible Lessons and the new 26-subject Bible Lessons were used. Use of the ILC-based Bible Lessons were discontinued after 1899.
To read the Rev. Tomlinson's complete article, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/articles/j040p483.htm.
To read more about the history of the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lessons, including the official use of other translations in addition to (and for one entire year replacing) the King James Version, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/bl-ver.htm.)
1 Excerpts from "The Lesson Sermon," by the Editors of The Christian Science Journal (TCSJ, 1899, May, Vol 17, page 144-152). The following excerpt is from page 150:
In the case of the Bible texts, then the Reader should study the context, and if an historical incident be referred to he should learn the whole history of the event named. In this study he may be helped by Smith's Bible Dictionary, the Revised Version of the Bible, Rotherham, or other equally high authorities. Having a clear understanding of the outward facts concerning the Bible passages, he should study them in connection with their correlative passages from Science and Health to learn their scientific meaning. Then with prayer and meditation he will behold their deep inward meaning, and grasp their profound spiritual import."
2 Excerpts from "The Christian Science Bible Lessons," by Irving Tomlinson (The Christian Science Journal, Volume 40, March, 1923, pages 483-487). To read the entire article, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/articles/j040p483.htm. The following excerpt is from pages 485 and 486:
The Lesson-Sermon is not a human, material structure. Like "the tree of life," it has its main trunk, or subject, which subdivides into six branches, upon which ripens "the fruit of the Spirit," and where grow the leaves of the tree "for the healing of the nations." Each of these six branches, or subtopics, has its own individuality; but they are all vitally connected with the trunk or main subject, as well as vitally connected one with the other. There is, of course, no established order for the make-up of a Lesson-Sermon. Its six sections, consequently, have endless variety. Different people, also, view the Lesson differently; and the footsteps, or leading thoughts, of the sections are unfolded to them in different ways. While it is a mistake to suppose that one word is always sufficient to describe the predominating thought in each section of the Lesson, yet sometimes this may be very nearly the case. The intelligent student will thus see no set outline on which the Lesson-Sermons are constructed, but he will find variety in unity, and unity in variety.
"The Golden Text may be said to contain the fundamental thought with which the sermon deals.... The responsive reading, while entirely separate from the sermon, deals with the same subject. While no part of the temple (sermon), it may be called the stairway which leads to the temple, warning the worshiper that he is drawing nigh unto the holy place" (Journal, May, 1899). The Sentinel of May 31, 1900, said of the Lesson-Sermon: "The Bible does its part and the Science and Health quotations do their part in unfolding and enforcing the subject. Let it be remembered, then, that the Bible selections are not put down in one column and the Science and Health passages placed opposite them to explain their every detail. Taken together they form a complete discourse and fully expound the subject of the Sermon."
...There is no one method whereby to study and imbibe the truth contained in the Bible Lessons. The way of approach through them to God is an individual demonstration. The procedure which may seem best for one may not be so for another; but experience shows that there are some things helpful to do and others not helpful to do. When spiritual darkness once enveloped Israel, it is related "there was no open vision." Blessings come to those who study the Lesson with open spiritual vision. To those who have not this vision the conscientious study of the Lesson-Sermon helps to impart it.
Blessings come to those who perceive and understand the truth; so those who discern and grasp a leading thought in each section of the Lesson receive a blessing. Usually, the first Science and Health reference in each section hints the leading thought in that section, which the Bible selections and the other Science and Health selections in the section develop. Although, naturally, the first section introduces, the last concludes, and the intermediate sections amplify the subject of the Lesson-Sermon, let it be repeated that there is no formula, no rigidly fixed order for these footsteps. They who only skim the Lesson over miss many blessings that await them. They who prayerfully study the Lesson, and imbibe its spirit, rejoice in blessings manifold.
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer
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