Frequently Asked Questions
Confused by the Bible? Want to learn about the Bible without being pushed by an agenda? Curious about the book that is sacred to three major world religions? Exploring the Bible: The Dickinson Series might be just what you're looking for.
What is it?
What if I'm not a Christian?
What are the three courses?
Who wrote it?
What is the theological perspective?
Do I need a group?
Where can I get it?
Certificate of Biblical Literacy?
What are the costs?
How do I get started?
A series of three courses on the Bible designed for small groups. Each course is presented in six, 90-minute sessions with a Student Text and a separate, easy-to-use Leader's Guide. Courses are designed to be offered to small groups in local communities and facilitated by local leaders.
Exploring the Bible: The Dickinson Series is being used successfully in groups and university classes with Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic, and atheist participants. It is being used in Roman Catholic parishes and many Protestant denominations, frequently together. While written by a Christian minister and containing information that explains some of the facets of Christian faith, Exploring the Bible is an educational resource. If you are adhere to another faith or no faith at all, your perspective is welcomed by this material. And if you get into it and find something offensive, we want to hear about it.
Both the student texts and leader's guides are written by the Rev. Anne Robertson and published by the Massachusetts Bible Society. The series is named for its benefactor, Dr. Charles C. Dickinson, III.
In the creation of this series there are several obvious biases.
- The Bible is a book that can and should be read by individuals both inside and outside the church.
- Understanding of the Bible is enhanced and deepened in conversation with others.
- The tools of scholarship are not incompatible with a faithful reading of Scripture.
- Diversity of opinion is both a welcome and a necessary part of any education.
Beyond those points we have tried to give an unbiased theological perspective, describing differences of opinion and scholarship in neutral terms. This allows for the material to be used in ecumenical, interfaith, and secular groups.
Although named for and written by Christians, Exploring the Bible: The Dickinson Series is designed to be an educational tool, not an evangelistic tool. The Massachusetts Bible Society affirms that the making of Christian disciples is the job of the local church. These materials are designed either to fit into the overall disciple-making effort of a local church or into a secular environment where people of other faiths or of no faith can gain a deeper understanding of the nature and content of the Bible.
The material is designed for use in a small group, and participating in such a group will give you the most benefit. In a group you will be able to exchange ideas and perspectives and examine biblical stories in more depth through the exercises in the Leader's Guides. You will need a group if you want to receive formal credit for your study.
However, if you would like to explore the material without a group, the Student Text for each course is accessible and fun reading. You will learn from the text and if you also get the Leader's Guide you can explore the class exercises on your own.
All courses are available on Amazon.com or directly from the Massachusetts Bible Society. Course materials are available in regular, large print, and Kindle editions. See the Bible Courses pages for direct links to the Amazon pages.
When studying with a group, you will have homework. For those who want to take the course informally, your homework is mostly, "Read the next chapter and think about the reflection questions." However, if you want to go deeper, you have the option of doing the "Extra Mile" homework, which generally includes some research and writing. Those who complete all three courses and do the Extra Mile work for each may be awarded a Certificate in Biblical Literacy.
A regular certificate of participation will be awarded to all informal students at the completion of each course. See the Getting Credit page for more details.
For those taking the course informally there are no costs apart from the purchase of the materials. (Retail prices range from $11-$15 for student books and are $16 for each leader's guide. See the links on the individual course pages for current Amazon.com discounts.)