Old Testament Survey

...the one hearing my word and believing the One Who sent me has eternal life... Jn 5:24

What You'll Accomplish
How the Class Works
Example Content
Getting Started
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Old Testament Survey - Course Introduction

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Old Testament survey course. The official description of this course is: An overview of the Old Testament, highlighting its organization, overall themes, historical context, and major events, as well as key ideas, events, people, and message of each Biblical book.

I have taught this material at the college level for years. And I'm now making this material available for schools, churches, small groups, and individuals who would like to know God's Word better. I'm fortunate to be able to offer this material without charge, but please don't assume that it is low quality because it is free. This course has been proven in many educational settings, and I have worked hard to make this material beneficial at many levels. Feel free to use this material in any way that honors Christ and advances His kingdom.

What you'll Accomplish

Introduction to the Old Testament Survey Video

Click the icon to watch a brief video, which introduces the nature of this course, and what you will accomplish through this course.


Who should take this course?

This course is aimed to be useful for a broad spectrum of students. This course is an introductory survey of the Old Testament. Therefore, it is aimed for people with little or no previous knowledge of the Old Testament. However, this course can also be beneficial to those with significant previous exposure.

This course is primarily designed to help Christians grow in their faith. But it will also be informative for any person who would like to be better informed about the Christian perspective on the Old Testament. This course will give an overview understanding of what Christians believe about the first part of the Christian Bible.

This material was originally taught at the college level, but it is accessible to almost any level, because it is a beginner level course.

And this course has been designed to be used by either an individual, or by a group. Therefore, it is appropriate for churches, colleges, schools, small groups, or any group or individual who wishes to understand the Old Testament better.

Course Objectives (Cognitive):

Upon successful completion of this course, each student should be able to:

  • Articulate the 'Big-Picture' history of the Old Testament People of God and the overall message of the Old Testament.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of the Old Testament Scriptures and their relevance to life and ministry
  • Place the Major OT people, events and books in a general chronology.
  • Explain the main message(s), organization, theme(s), and/or character(s) of every OT book.
  • Articulate how the Old Testament prepares for the climactic revelation of Jesus Christ.

Course Goals (Mindset):

Upon successful completion of this course, each student should have opportunity to:

  • Use the OT as a means to grow in worship, devotion, and Christian character
  • Use the foundation from this survey as the basis for continued fruitful study in the Old Testament
  • Demonstrate a growing esteem of Jesus and His Holy Word.

How This Course Works

Course Resources and Activities Video

Click the icon to watch a brief video, which describes the course resources and the student activities which make up this course.


Course Resources

The following resources are made available to the student as part of this course:

Required texts

  • Primary Textbook - Holy Bible in a literal [formal equivalent] or dynamic equivalent [functional equivalent] translation (a paraphrase, such as The Message or The Voice is not appropriate for this course).
  • Secondary/Supplemental Textbook - Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament - 3rd ed., Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2015. ISBN:978-0801049538, (The 2nd edition [2008] or 1st edition [1999] are acceptable for this course as well).

Video Lectures

Each module contains a number of lectures on video. These videos cover a portion of the course material. And they also include reviews at the end to summarize the teaching of each section. It is recommended that the student not just passively watch the videos, but actively interact with the course material. Blank lecture notes are included in each module for your benefit. These can all be watched from the course website or, if you prefer, there are links to the each video in the youtube interface.

Instruction Documents

Each module contains links to documents which contain detailed instructions for all the module's activities. There are two documents in each module. One is for a person who is working through this course on their own, with instructions for individual activities. The other instruction document is for people working through this course in a group setting. And it contains instructions for group activities.

Supplemental and Reference Documents

Some modules contain documents which supply some supplemental information relevant to the module. There is a two page summary document for each book of the Old Testament. These are contained in the appropriate module for each book.


As mentioned earlier, each video lecture contains summary reviews. The review material for each module is gathered into a slideshow, so that the student can view all the review material for each module in a convenient format.

Quizzes & Discussions

Each module has a review quiz to review and test the student's understanding and retention of the course material. Most of the questions come from the video Lectures, but the required textbook reading is also fair game for the review quizzes. The questions are objective type questions and are automatically graded. The quiz questions are randomly generated from a large bank of questions, so that the quiz is different each time. Therefore, the student may profitably take the quiz more than once to see more questions.

And each module has a list of discussion type questions which concentrate on thematic issues and application of course material. If the student is working through this course as an individual, these questions can be used for personal reflection and meditation. If the course is taken in a group setting, these questions are appropriate for group discussion, or possibly for essay questions on an exam, if the course leader chooses.

Course Activities

There are three basic groups of student activities for each module: intake activities, interaction activities, and application activities. In each of the activities, the student should concentrate on gaining knowledge, but also focus on conforming their attitudes and lifestyle to the course material, as they use this course to know the God of the Old Testament.

Intake of course information -

The intake activities are designed for the student to gain access to and receive relevant information about the course topics. Because of the nature of the Old Testament as revelation from God, it is important that the student start with a listening posture, to receive from the faith delivered once and for all to the saints. There is certainly a time for the student to contribute their insights (in the next two types of activities), but it is important to start with receiving the information. This does not mean the student should be passive in these activities. Rather the student should actively engage with the course material, with a goal to listen and learn.

Interaction with course information -

The interaction activities are designed for the student to thoughtfully process and mull over the information until they thoroughly understand it and have it committed to memory. The student will rehearse the information in a variety of ways and assess how well they have understood and retained the course content.

Application of course information -

And finally, the application activities are designed for the student to solidify their understanding by working through the ways that the course information connects with their own life and ministry in current society. The process of learning is not complete until the information is put into practice.

Detailed activity instructions -

Detailed instructions for all course activities are included in each module in slightly different forms for either individual or group study. See the Student Guide or Group Guide in each module for a description of this module's activities.


This course is divided into seven modules based on the content. Therefore, each module has a different amount of material, and will take a different amount of time. The course is designed so that an individual student can go at their own pace.

In the past, this course has been taught in 12 week and 5 week intensive formats. Below I have included both the 5 and 12 week schedules, as well as an extended week by week schedule in 43 sessions as possible guidelines for groups.

Whether you are working through this course as an individual or as a group, I recommend finding whatever schedule works best for you. And I encourage you to remain faithful to completing this course and growing in your Biblical knowledge and practice.

Example Module Content

In the following sections, you will find the layout of a typical course module. Also in these sections, you will find (in the appropriate section) all of the introductory material and explanations for all the assignments as described above.

Module Introduction

In this section, you will find a brief introduction to each individual module. This section includes the objectives for each module.

Module Documents

In this section, you will find documents for each course module. These will include instructions for all activities, background material, and any supplementary material for the module.

Below, you will find links to documents which cover the course as a whole.

Module Videos

In this section, you will find the video lectures on all the course material. They are designed to be watched in order, but each video should make sense on its own. Each thumbnail will open a standard embedded web video when clicked. These can be expanded to full screen, or there is a link if you prefer to watch them in the YouTube interface.

Below you will find the two introduction videos for the entire course (which are also available above).

Introduction to the Old Testament Survey Video
Course Resources and Activities Video

Module Reviews

In This section, you will find the summary reviews from each video lecture in a convenient format for review and study. Click the thumbnail to begin the slideshow. Then use the arrows to navigate through the review.

Below, you will find a brief review from the course introductory material.

Start Slideshow
Slideshow Trigger

Click the "prev." and "next" buttons (bottom right of the slide) to move through the slides.

Close X

Module Review Quiz

This section is a link to a separate page which contains a sample quiz to test your understanding of the objective material for this introduction. By clicking the link, you will be taken to a series of questions, in random order. Answer each question and then push the Submit button to check your answers. Every question must be answered before you can submit the quiz. At the end, you will be shown your score for the entire quiz. The quiz will be different each time, so feel free to take it more than once.

Below you will find the link to a brief example quiz reviewing this introductory material. Click the Thumbnail picture to begin the quiz.

Start Quiz
Quiz Trigger

Module Discussion/Reflection/Essay Questions

This section contains questions for further though and discussion. These questions can also be used as essay questions in a classroom setting exam. It is recommended that you take time to think through these issues in order to thoroughly grasp the significance and explore the application of the material you are learning.

Below you will find some example questions from this introductory material. Click the Thumbnail to view the questions.

See Questions
Discussion Questions Trigger

The following questions are for your thoughtful consideration and discussion:

Close X
  1. Why is it important to avoid both dry irrelevant scholarship and touchy-feely ignorance? How can you guard against this in your own life?
  2. What would you like to get out of learning more about the Old Testament? How do you wish your life to be impacted?

Getting Started

At any time, you can click the menu at the top to jump to any module in this course. Or you can click the button below to begin Module 1. I hope you enjoy, and I pray that you grow in understanding of the Old Testament and devotion to its author.