Monday, April 25, 2016

An Addition to our Library

Anyone who has listened to our podcast knows that I, Emily, am an unabashed Charlotte-Mason-geek. So much so that I have hi-jacked mom's usual blog post schedule to insert one of my "new" finds.

I've been looking more deeply into how exactly Charlotte Mason suggested the Bible be studied as a school subject. Since the Bible is the Living Book of all living books, she unapologetically advocated its intentional study in addition to personal, devotional reading. There is a difference. In her school programmes, Mason always stressed that "necessary omissions" be made from the Bible text. I believe this was especially important as children were studying Scripture and narrating what they learned. While all Scripture is profitable, I don't think we want our children to contemplate too deeply some of the most graphic elements of the Bible at young ages.

These omissions are easy to achieve during elementary school when the Bible passage is read aloud to the student. Children in Forms I and II (grades 1-6) would read the historical narrative portions of the Old Testament (Genesis through Kings) as well as the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and the first 8 chapters of Acts from the New Testament. Alternating days between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the students cycled through their appointed Old Testament reading every four years and their New Testament passages every three years. Simple enough.

It becomes more difficult as the students switch to reading the passage for themselves. Students in the Parents' National Education Union schools started this in middle school, around 7th grade. Mason solved this delicate matter by using a book called Old Testament History by the Reverends Hardwich and Costley-White. She describes it in her 6th Volume:
"Wise and necessary omissions in this work make it more possible to deal with Old Testament History, in the words of the Authorised [King James] Version, than if the Bible were used as a single volume." (p. 163)
I've always been curious about this volume, reading Mason's description that it integrated the prophetic books into their historical period as the students read the various kings and that the authors' excellent footnotes illuminated the text so that the students could more readily picture the events described. Alas, Old Testament History isn't online anywhere that I have found. Thus the reason for this post: I recently tracked one of the volumes down and have enjoyed looking at it in person before adding it to our library. Unfortunately, I only have Volume I (of five volumes) but it was nice to see for myself what I could only imagine from Mason's description.

The book is a blend of biblical commentary and a chronological Bible, but the commentary is sparse, limited to an introduction to each book and the occasional, brief, footnote in the text itself. Helpful appendices provide information on the historical dating of certain figures and events as well as geographical locations mentioned in the Scriptures. The beauty lies in those "wise and necessary omissions," enabling students to engage the text directly. Below is a sample from the Creation account in Genesis 1:

Beginning in middle school, students studied the whole of the Old Testament historical narrative including the prophets as Costley-White integrated them, again cycling through this portion every four years. In their New Testament reading the children studied all of Acts and the Gospel of John every three years. In high school the Psalms, Proverbs, and Epistles were added and a chronologically arranged life of Christ from all four Gospels was used. For any of my fellow "geeks," I've put together a spreadsheet of these Bible study rotations as they were used in the PNEU schools.

Always digging,



  1. I love me a spreadsheet! Eeek! Thanks so much! This is very helpful!

    Did you listen to the great Schole Sisters podcast with Brandy Vencel and Art Middlekauf regarding Bible lessons? :) That, too, was very helpful!

    1. Catie,

      I'm so glad the spreadsheet helped. I am a geek and love to see how all the programmes really fit into a larger pattern!

      I did listen to the Schole Sisters episode with Art--so good. Brandy referred to A Delectable Education (not by name) since Art was the guest on our episode 13 which was all about the Saviour of the World. What they discussed, seeing Christ in the Gospels, fits so into Mason's pattern, using a compiled narrative of the life of Christ from all four Gospels in High School. Sigh. It is beautiful!


  2. So fun Emily! I love it when I am able to see, in my actual hand especially, the books that she used in her programs. I am also a digger, and so I love hearing these things! Years back, I was able to get some of the J Paterson Smyth books that she mentioned (or maybe it was an article in the Parents Review). It was helpful to see how Bible Lessons were done using Smyth's books. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the spreadsheet!

  4. I have not listened to thescnole sisters were can I find that
    One on the same prodcast?

    1. Kate,

      Liz and Emily (who blog here) and Nicole (of produce the podcast called A Delectable Education--all about the Charlotte Mason Method of Education. You can find it in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or any podcast app on a mobile device. Or, you can head on over to and listen directly from there.

    2. Schole Sisters Podcast #6 4/18/16 "Poetic Bible Lessons"

  5. Thank you so much for this spreadsheet, Emily - I have recently been trying to work out which of the 'detailed laws' parts of the end of Exodus to include and which to exclude, and this has just made my life a lot easier!