At the surprising age of 6, Barbara Handt knew she wanted to serve in missions. After formal training, at the age of 22, she began working with a non-denominational faith mission in South America. A few years later she had the privilege of teaching at a Bible School in Bolivia. Realizing the students did not have an overview of the Bible as a whole, she wrote a course for them and taught it for several years.
When she returned to America, people were interested in her survey approach to Scripture. As a result, she translated her lessons from Spanish to English, adapting and adding to it for the US culture. Her broader approach, with Jewish culture, history, geography, and chronology was an instant hit! As people began to understand the Bible, their excitement grew. And so the classes grew.
Her classes were different in that she represented no church or group. She had no desire to change people’s church affiliation or emphasize differences. Her only goal was to teach the Bible in depth.
She has undergraduate degrees in Theology and Spanish Literature. She also earned her Master’s (magna cum laude) and her Doctorate (magna cum laude) in Biblical Studies. At the present time, she has been teaching Bible for 62 years.
She also formed a non-profit business, “Education Library” to make these lessons more available at no cost.
In her spare time, Dr. Handt enjoys gardening as well as household repairs and electronics.
After years of teaching the Bible, I began to notice a pattern among adults in the United States. Almost everyone knows a few Bible stories. Many are familiar with the outstanding events of the Old and New Testament. However this knowledge is fragmented, with no awareness of how the stories fit together in a larger frame of reference. Few are the people who can think thru the Old Testament history, knowing both the geographical locations and the chronological order. Fewer still are those who know the amount of time between major Bible stories such as David and Goliath and Daniel in the lions’ den.
Various Bible surveys have been written by excellent and renowned authors. But either they do not present an overview in chronological order, or they do not deal with geography, language and culture in any depth. Since our Western mind learns according to time and space, chronology and geography are a crucial part of any survey. It is for this reason I have been writing such a course over the last 40 years. Being a lifetime project, The Life of Jesus course served as my Master’s thesis. Major portions of the Old and New Testament studies became the dissertation for my Doctorate.
The Old Testament Survey consists of 45 lessons. The Life of Jesus from a Jewish Perspective has 17 lessons. And there are 24 lessons in the New Testament. In general, each lesson covers one book of the Bible including the background, theme, author, date and purpose. The outline and major events in the book are developed along with a practical application to our lives today.
The books in the Old Testament are taught in chronological order. The Life of Jesus is studied chronologically as well as geographically. The New Testament books are studied based on their topics, which will be the order they are in the Bible. The lessons relate the stories not only to each other, but also to the history, geography and culture of that time period. Each lesson is complete in itself but in addition, builds upon previous lessons.
The goal of these lessons is that Scripture comes alive for you.
This is not a project that could be accomplished by any one person. To get this material online is the result of a dedicated team – each of whom used their special abilities and gifts to make it a reality. Tim and Gayle Bieber, Mike and Betty Eggiman, Tyler and Lindsay Siefken. Each played a major role in putting it together in this format. I am so thankful for each of them for the time and effort they have put into it.
In particular, I want to acknowledge Betty Eggiman for the hundreds of hours she spent in proofing and editing these lessons. Her alert and thorough reading caught numerous errors. And as a result of her suggestions, there are graphics and clarifications that are valuable additions. I will always be grateful for her patience and dedication.
But in the end, we all recognize that without the direction of the Holy Spirit, none of this has value. It is God’s Word, done under His guidance and for His glory.