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Lesson Plans

Welcome to Oxford Biblical Studies Online's lesson plans.

These lesson plans illustrate how professors can use Oxford Biblical Studies Online to bring online learning into the Biblical studies classroom, streamline their course materials to one accessible location, and connect with today's technologically savvy student. Students today are increasingly accustomed to using technology in their research. With that in mind, we have collected lesson plans from professors of Biblical studies who use this site in their classrooms. By encouraging the use of authoritative websites in the classroom, educators can guide students in their studies while teaching them responsible research methods.

Each lesson plan highlights the resources available on Oxford Biblical Studies Online and provides discussion questions, supplementary reading suggestions, and a summary of the topic for lecture preparation. These lesson plans can be used to supplement existing syllabi, to provide ideas for integrating the site into the classroom, or as outlines for self-guided study.

We will add lesson plans with each update, so please check back for new plans.

1 and 2 Thessalonians

While 1 Thessalonians was likely composed by Paul and his companions shortly after their departure from the city, the authorship of 2 Thessalonians is called into question by many commentators. Richard S. Ascough (Queen's University) and Erin K. Vearncombe (Princeton University) investigate.



In modern history and scholarship, there has been far less attention given to the book of Lamentations than to other biblical books. Here Nancy C. Lee (Elmhurst College) considers the flurry of renewed interest in Lamentations in the last twenty-five years against a backdrop of enormous human suffering worldwide.



Ezekiel composed the core prophecies of his book in writing during the sixth century B.C.E. in Babylonia, where the prophet and other elite members of Judean society had been forcibly exiled. Stephen L. Cook (Virginia Theological Seminary) explores the role of Israelite prophets and priestly traditions within the exilic era.



The book of Deuteronomy provides a second version of the laws of the Covenant Code, both reformulating them and adding some new laws, too. In this lesson plan Laura Quick (Princeton University) presents a literary history of the book grounded in its ancient Near Eastern context.


Jude and 2 Peter

The Second Letter of Peter and the Letter of Jude are so similar that scholars have detected a literary relationship between the two. In this lesson plan Terrance Callan (The Athenaeum of Ohio) compares the two, showing the key areas of agreement and divergence.



In a series of lessons, J. R. C. Cousland (University of British Columbia) walks the scholar through the narrative of Matthew's Gospel, focusing on and its distinctive literary characteristics.


The Prayer of Manasseh

Attributed to a wicked king of Judah, the Prayer of Manasseh explores a moment of regret and repentance. In this lesson plan, David Lambert (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) explores the origin and influence of this prayer, and how it fits with the monarchical period of ancient Israel.



Nijay K. Gupta (Portland Seminary) provides an in-depth lesson plan on the background, context, and modern interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.


The Letter of James

With a lesson plan for those who have already been introduced to Greek epistolary literature, Timothy Cargal (Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry, Presbyterian Church) examines the historical setting and theological influence of the Letter of James, complete with preparatory readings from across Oxford Biblical Studies Online.



Mary Joan Winn Leith of Stonehill College presents an introductory course exploring the book of Esther and its impact on theology, literature, ethics, and gender studies.


The Book of Revelation

Paul B. Duff, The George Washington University, presents a thorough lesson plan designed to introduce undergraduates to the Book of Revelation — not only as a religious text, but also as a social and historical document.


Introduction to Biblical Narrative in Genesis 18-19

Peter Sabo (University of Alberta) helps teachers explain the basic workings of biblical narrative and the importance of reading literarily, as well as how to identify three of the more distinctive features of biblical narrative and to apply the practice of close literary reading to other biblical texts.


Exploring Biblical Poetry

Anne W. Stewart (Emory University) provides an overview of the defining characteristics of Hebrew poetry, along with the major themes of praise (the Psalms), judgment (Amos and Nahum), wisdom (Proverbs), love (the Song of Songs), and grief (Lamentations).


Song of Songs

The Bible's only love poem, The Song of Songs (or the Song of Solomon) consists of nearly two hundred verses that offer few clues as to their origin or audience. As a result, the book has been interpreted in a number of ways, and this lesson plan by Rhiannon Graybill (Rhodes College) guides educators through the work's unique imagery and varied reception history.


The Book of Jubilees

The Book of Jubilees provides a case study of the Pseudepigrapha, the stories attributed to famous figures in the Bible. In this lesson, Kelly J. Murphy (Emory University) uses Jubilees to introduce this genre, and to illustrate the widely debated process of constructing the Biblical canon.


The Divine Attribute Formula in Psalms

In the Book of Exodus, God reveals himself as both merciful and punishing, a divine attribute "formula" that is repeated throughout the Hebrew Bible. Hilary Kapfer (Harvard University) guides the user through the numerous examples of this complex theme, from the Torah to the Psalms.


The Ancient Jewish Short Story

This lesson plan by Nicole Tilford (Emory University) examines a group of texts that can be collectively referred to as "ancient Jewish short stories," in particular, Ruth, Susanna, Esther, Judith, and Tobit. Found in the Hebrew Bible or Apocrypha, these texts incorporate into a traditional Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible course. When compared to each other, however, they exhibit certain shared tendencies, such as their lack of historical precision, their heightened focus on otherwise marginal figures in society (such as women and slaves).


Introduction to Proverbs

The collection of aphorisms known as the Book of Proverbs provides a glimpse of Israelite cultural ideals, from parenting and gender relations to politics and philosophy. In this lesson plan, Anne W. Stewart (Emory University) shows how educators and students can explore the poetic language of the book in order to reveal ancient notions of wisdom, and how they relate to the modern world.


Prophets and Prophecy in the Book of Kings

The books now divided into 1 Kings and 2 Kings were originally part of one work that told the story of ancient Israel from the death of King David until the release of the exiled King Jehoiachin from prison in Babylon (ca. 970 BCE to 561/60 BCE). Together the two books tell the tale of Israel's history, detailing how the destruction of the two kingdoms is a just punishment for the sins of the people. Kelly J. Murphy (Emory University) focuses this comprehensive lesson plan on the activities of the prophets during this era, whose warnings and admonitions make the story more of a theological treatise than a work of history.


Women in Judges

At first glance, Judges appears to be a book primarily concerned with the men who figured prominently during Israel's premonarchic days. Yet the female characters of the book—only one of whom is a "judge"—play an important role in the unfolding narrative. While the book names four of these women (Achsah, Deborah, Jael, and Delilah), it identifies the others—despite their importance to the development of the text—only as daughters, wives, lovers, or mothers of the male characters. Thus, as Kelly J. Murphy (Emory University) demonstrates in this extensive lesson plan, the book is an excellent starting point for introducing feminist hermeneutics and addressing gender issues related to the biblical texts more broadly.


Emergence of Israel

The rise of Israel—related from opening lines of Joshua through 2 Kings—is a story that links past experience with future promise, combining history, memory, warfare, and worship. In examining the varying interpretations of this story, Ryan Bonfiglio (Emory University) discusses the competing theories about the settlement of the region, incorporating Biblical and archaeological evidence.


Job and Theodicy

Davis Hankins (Emory University) presents a comprehensive lesson plan on the Book of Job, breaking down the book's structure, major themes, and allusions to other Biblical texts. The discussion questions and opportunities for research not only examine the literary significance of the book, but they also encourage students to delve into the deeper issues of evil, suffering, and faith.


The Life and Times of the Apostles

Aimed at a high school audience, Timothy Gannon's lesson plan on the Acts of the Apostles uses creative group activities, research projects, and discussion to bring the early Church to life and examine how the text fits into the larger Christian canon. Mr. Gannon, a teacher in the Religious Studies Department at Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton, MA, has developed a flexible plan that can be adapted to a wide range of secondary school classes.


Historical Jesus

The "Historical Jesus" lesson plan, prepared by Professor Kenneth Atkinson of University of Northern Iowa, considers the figure of Jesus and the Biblical passages associated with him. By tracing the historical context of passages, this lesson plan looks at how ancient Christian communities documented Jesus' teachings, the ways that current Biblical scholars study Jesus, and the debates over the different interpretations of the stories of Jesus.


The Problematics of Translation

Steven Leonard Jacobs, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Alabama, presents a lesson plan that looks at the variety of Bible translations and potential ways to teach about the nuances of different translations. This plan encourages the students to look at the specificity of language and raises questions about the nature of translation.


New Testament Background: The Canon

The "New Testament" lesson plan, prepared by Professor Kenneth Atkinson of University of Northern Iowa, explores the diversity of early Christianity and the complicated and lengthy process that led to the selection of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament canon. Covering topics such as oral tradition, the order of the books, and controversies surrounding the concept of a New Testament, this lesson plan includes background information as well as suggestions for further reading.


Paul: His Life and His Works

Professor Kenneth Atkinson of University of Northern Iowa has written a lesson plan that outlines a course of study for investigating the life and teachings of Paul, the author of much of the New Testament. Using background essays and writings that are available on Oxford Biblical Studies Online, Professor Atkinson leads students through an examination of Paul's early life, travels, and teachings.


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