It can be difficult to find a quality narrative Bible curriculum for teens and adults. The four volume Promise and Deliverance series by S.G. De Graaf, first published years ago, is still among the best. Many years ago Christianity Today called it “A landmark in interpreting the simple stories of the Bible” and that assessment is as valid as ever.
For years the author, Reverend De Graaf, led a weekly class for those who taught Bible to children, both at Sunday schools and at day schools. This book is the fruit of repeatedly answering the question, “How do we tell this Bible story?” and is helpful for teachers of little ones, for teens to study on their own, and also for anyone else who wishes to study the Bible.
So what is so special about the Promise and Deliverance series? It focuses on the meaning of each story and on how to understand and share it. In the introduction to the first volume, the author reminds us that the purpose of telling a story is to make it come alive for the hearer, but also warns us about letting the main point get lost in details. Since God wrote the Bible in order that we might believe, not merely to entertain us, this should never be forgotten.
In each story God reveals himself in a particular way, and the important thing is to try to understand what God intends to reveal to us in that specific story. And, no, it is usually not a moral lesson. Instead, it is usually something about who God is and about how he makes and keeps his covenant with us. He is the main character, says De Graaf, and we must not make the mistake of focusing on human actions instead of on God.
These concepts are fundamental to each of the more than 200 Bible narratives. Each narrative, based on a specific Bible passage, is prefaced with a short section that outlines the main goals of the story. The main thought is summarized in a single sentence, and the actual story follows. Each narrative not only describes the Bible events but also interprets them, applying them to our lives today. Thus Promise and Deliverance can also serve as a devotional.
When I was a teen, I studied these volumes for school and Bible study clubs. My teens have also worked with them, reading and summarizing the stories as part of their schoolwork. Currently we are not using them, but I am pondering how to tweak our homeschool to fit them in again, for they will supply something that is currently lacking, a fact-based devotional.
The four volumes of Promise and Deliverance are available in paperback (almost ½ way down this page) and some volumes are occasionally available second hand from Amazon. However, each volume can also be downloaded for free in PDF format:
- Volume 1: From Creation to the Conquest of Canaan
- Volume 2: The Failure of Israel’s Theocracy
- Volume 3: Christ’s Ministry and Death
- Volume 4: Christ and the Nations
Even if you are mainly interested in one of the later volumes, I recommend you also read De Graaf’s introduction to the first volume in which he passionately explains his approach.
Other good, though less thorough, narrative Bible resources are also available, and I have discussed some of them in Bible Narratives for Ages 10-15.
Disclosure: We have owned these books for decades and have read and reread them. I am not compensated for this review and it represents my own honest opinion.