Because the Bible Timeline is spreading so fast around the country, I thought it would be good to give Adult Education Directors a brief explanation of the methods we employ when teaching. Feel free to share this with your parish director.
The primary purpose of the Great Adventure Bible Study Series is to provide simple catechesis to Catholics on Scripture. Although its authors and instructors are well steeped in Catholic biblical scholarship, The Great Adventure is catechetical in nature and does not treat Scripture in an academic manner. The goal of the program is modest - namely, to introduce Catholics to Scripture and provide them with a basic biblical literacy.
Given its catechetical and evangelistic nature, The Great Adventure focuses on the final form of the text, using what is often referred to as a canonical or narrative approach to Scripture. This approach is common throughout the Catholic tradition. Hugh of St. Victor, for example, in his Didascalicon, writes that the best way to teach Scripture is to start with the narrative books of the bible so that the beginning student can grasp the overall story of the Bible before diving into more complicated matters. The list of books that Hugh suggests is nearly identical to the books used in the Great Adventure Bible Timeline study (The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor. Book Six. Chapter Three.) In 1993, the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, observed that recent developments in biblical scholarship, have emphasized canonical criticism, i.e., the final form of the text. This approach, both ancient and new, is characteristic of our method.
Although the catechetical nature of The Great Adventure commends the synchronic methods of biblical interpretation, we also fully embrace the diachronic methods that are indispensable to understanding the final form of the sacred text. In order to understand the intentions of the human authors, whom God inspired, one must be attentive to their historical circumstances, culture, and modes of writing (see Dei Verbum, no. 12). As such, The Great Adventure series always seeks to use history and its related fields of study to shed light on the biblical text. The authors of The Great Adventure therefore recognize and employ diverse methods to help discover both the human and divine aspects of Sacred Scripture.