March 24, 2012

History and Scripture Study: An Important Marriage


Most homeschooling parents are good at teaching their children history. Many religious parents, homeschooling or not, are good at teaching their children their scriptures. I want to encourage you to combine the two.  It has been said that history is His story. I love how we can see His plan unfold. I love how all He does, and His working with man, can be seen in the interwoven tapestry we call history. We best understand history in light of theology, and understanding history broadens our comprehension not only of the world and peoples around us, but how it affects the lives  of those recorded in the scriptures. It is well worth the additional effort required.

To be honest, I don’t know how anyone could understand the second half of the book of Daniel, without a knowledge of Persian and Greek history. It would be nothing but a big puzzle. However, I’ll take an easier example.  Though the book of Esther can bring many lessons to its readers, without a knowledge of Persian history, the additional information adds to the books meaning. For instance, did you ever wonder why it took about a year from the time King Ahasuerus disposed Queen Vashti to the time it occurred to him he might want to find a new woman? Wasn’t he lonely at any point in that year? However when you look at Persian history, you learn that he was away at war during that year. It wasn’t until he returned home to his castle without a queen that it occurred to him he needed companionship. Now that is a minor point and not that important (although it bugged me when I first read Esther), but there are not so minor points where history is helpful also.

For instance, after Esther revealed Haman’s wicked plot to destroy the Jews, the king was enraged, but he didn’t change the law. Why not? Couldn’t he, as king, abolish the law Haman had designed? No, he couldn’t. According to the law of the Medes and Persians, no law enacted with the kings signet ring could be un-done. The only thing he could do was write a new law that finds a way to deal with the established one. Haman set a day where everyone who desired could attacked and kill all Jews, and plunder their possessions as their own, without any civil consequences to themselves. In fact, they would be aided in their assault.  King Ahasaurus could not change that. Instead, what they did was created an additional law that said the Jews could prepare and use any means to defend themselves. That prevented a practical genocide, as the majority of the Jews still lived in Persia, ever since the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had taken the population captive and destroyed Jerusalem.

Work it the other way too. When you’re studying history, make sure you bring up scriptural events that were occurring simultaneously. Abraham’s life overlaps with your study of Ancient Egypt. So does Joseph’s. Much of the history of Babylon and Persia takes place simultaneously with the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament. Then look at how Roman history and the New Testament overlap.  There is so much richness and knowledge for our children to discover.

It is those little details that will help bring both the Scriptures and history to life for your children. I don’t want you to despair thinking, How can I fit in one more thing? When will I learn all of this? We have resources the first generation of homeschoolers didn’t have. The internet has vast amounts of cliff note type versions of history. A simple Google search on a topic, can open up a whole new world for both you and your children. Don’t be afraid to learn along with them if you don’t have time to look it up ahead of time. When you do it together, you’re fulfilling the double duty of teaching them history and research methods simultaneously. Ideally, you would prepare ahead of time the summer before. However, I know we don’t live in an ideal world. Therefore, do what you are able. Even the tiniest of steps will add to your child’s understanding of the world around him and his God.

Annmarie Worthington is a single mom who homeschools her four children, while balancing life and work. If you’d like to learn more about Annmarie, including her conversion and spiritual thoughts, you can read her blog

2 comments - Add a comment below -:

Sweet Polly Purebred said...

Ann Marie, thank you! My 13yo and I are currently reading the Old Testament together, so your post is timely for us. We enjoy reading but we also have so many questions. I usually go to the Old Testament Institute manual for help but would love to know of other resources that might help us in our understanding of the Bible. Any suggestions, homescool moms?

Robyn said...

I'm bummed there aren't more comments on this, I've thought the same thing, that the two should be combined... But how? My kiddos are younger still and I'm not well versed in history or scripture, help!