Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

The Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

Opening Prayer

 Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you will renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will.  All that I have and cherish you have given me.  I surrender it all to be guided by your will.  Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me.  Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.

Amen.   (Prayer of self-dedication to Jesus Christ ascribed to St                                                                                                Ignatius of Loyola)


Discussion from the previous week “Creation”

Some observations about the Garden of Eden


  1. A good creation – Genesis 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31
  2. A benign gentle creation watered by a mist – Genesis 2: 6.
  3. A vegetarian creation – Genesis 1: 26-31

(contrast with Genesis 9: 1-3)

  1. Man – male and female, have dominion over every living thing. Genesis 1: 26
  2. A job to do – to tend and care for the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2: 15. (Sometimes called the “Covenant of Works”.)
  3. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. Genesis 3: 8

Note – there are two other instances of people walking with God.  Enoch in Genesis 5: 24 and Noah in Genesis 6: 9.

  1. No thorns in the garden. Genesis 3: 18
  2. The garden yields its abundance with little effort on the part of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3: 17  (Adam and Eve potter in the garden.)
  3. They can eat of the Tree of Life but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their proximity to God in the garden means they have Him as that source of reference.
  4. Even after it has all gone wrong they still have a world to live in and a Saviour is promised to them. Genesis 3: 15


Catechism of the Catholic Church

 288  Creation is the first and universal witness to God’s all-powerful love.

 289  Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place.  From a literary standpoint these texts have had diverse sources.  The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation.  Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.

375  The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice.”   This grace of original holiness was to “share in…divine life.”

378  The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.  There he lives “to till it and keep it.”  Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.


Last weeks extra task

How long was the tent peg?

Thoughts on Paul’s use of “saints” in Ephesians.


Reading the Overview for “The Fall”

and watching the DVD.

 Marking next weeks scriptures.


 Extra Tasks

 It is often said that the Bible is not a science text book.  But can you find science in it?

Have a look at Genesis 30: 32-43

Jacob is looking after his father in law’s sheep and goats.  He notices that the black sheep and the speckled and spotted goats have vigour even if they don’t look very good as specimens.  He asks his father in law if he can have those animals as wages.  He breeds them and ends up with a thriving, sturdy herd and his father in law’s herd grows feeble.

Jacob has done what scientists do.   He has made an observation, made predictions from that and tested that in practice by experiment.  An exercise in genetics before the monk Gregor Mendel started experimenting with peas.

When his father in law, Laban, figures this out he is less than pleased – Genesis 31:5.  Jacob leaves and returns to the land of his father, Isaac.

The whole story of Jacob is one of trickery and deceit.  Jacob acquires his brother’s birth right – Gen 25: 29-34.

He tricks his father into giving him his brothers blessing – Gen 27.

He flees for his life because his brother Esau is very angry with him.

Jacob works for Laban and wants to marry his daughter Rachel – Gen 29.

Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah and he has to labour for many more years to marry Rachel.

Lastly we have the trickery of the sheep and goats.

This is not to condone deceit, after all Jacob suffers because of his actions even though God favours him over his brother.

Isaac also comes out as a rather long-suffering faithful individual.


The Great Evolution-Creation Debate

 Strangely enough the Church hasn’t come down on one side of the debate or the other, it acknowledges the status of evolution as a theory of  value in some areas of study.  It asks that if you have a measure of evolution in your understanding of creation you acknowledge the following truths[1]:

  1. God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo).
  2. God created an orderly universe (the universe is not a product of chance).
  3. God sustains everything in being (everything depends on God for existence).
  4. The human soul was created immediately by God.
  5. We are all descended from one family group, Adam and Eve.


I was greatly encouraged by this as it means that the Catholic creation umbrella is quite a broad one and covers those with a literal view of biblical creation, to those who believe in intelligent design over a longer period of time, to those who believe in theistic evolution.   Whatever our position we are asked to be gracious to one another and remember our calling; to believe in Jesus, surrender to him and be baptised.

The Church regards evolution as not an obstacle to faith and not incompatible with faith.

Here are a few references and websites which may be useful:

Catholicism and Evolution: A History from Darwin to Pope Francis by Michael Chaberek O.P.  – Angelico Press

Humani Generis – Encyclical of Pius XII

Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: on Evolution: Pope John Paul II  (ref 1 in the text)   British and Irish, Catholic Creation journal and website







The Big Picture Bible Course – session 3 “Creation”

The Big Picture Bible Course – session 3 “Creation”


Opening Prayer


  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Prayers from the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy as we reflect on coming to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, to pray for one another and our world.


Let us pray;


Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your Dearly Beloved Son.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.


For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.


Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.



St. Faustina  Pray for us.

St Joseph  Pray for us.



Time of Sharing

How did you get on with the week’s tasks?

Discuss with reference to the week’s scriptures.


  • Reflections on how we see God.
  • Receiving God’s revelation
  • Things that get in the way.
  • The many names of God.
  • Born to be loved
  • God’s big plan




Names of God

You may be wondering why the book is pointing us to all these Hebrew names of God.  After all, aren’t we having enough getting to grips with the bible in English?

Well, each of these names tells us something about God and how those people of the bible tried to understand Him.

The “El” names  are the simplest and are normally given with a descriptive term as in El Shaddai – God almighty or mountain God.

El Roi – the God who sees me.

There are many other names with “El” in them;

Michael – Who is like God?

Gabriel – God is mighty

Emmanuel – God with us

Elijah – my God is the Lord

Elisha – God is salvation

Raphael – God has healed


Then we come to God’s own revealed name as given to Moses.  “I Am who I Am”.  In other words I am not a God of adjectives who can be pinned down and controlled.  I am a God of surprises, always more than you can think or imagine – and yet I choose to reveal myself to you.

In Hebrew God’s revealed name is given as 4 letters.  In English letters this is YHVH.  Hebrew is all consonants and has no vowels, although vowel points are now added to make things easier.  However, as this name is regarded by the Jews as so Holy that it should not be said, it is uncertain exactly how it should be pronounced.  Attempts to pronounce this name have given us Yahweh or Jehovah.  But any Jew will tell you they don’t say either and never have.  Instead they substitute Adonai – Lord or Hashem – the Name.


The Jerusalem bible uses Yahweh in the Old Testament as well as some of the El names.  I find this useful in pointing me to the Hebrew but out of respect for the Jews, and early church tradition, the Catholic Church has said that we shouldn’t say this name but instead substitute Lord.  This was in the document Liturgium Authenticam in 2001 and the Letter to the Bishop’s conferences on “The Name of God” in 2008.

The CTS bible uses the Jerusalem translation but with Lord instead of Yahweh.

Though you may come across the name Yahweh in an academic setting, it is important to remember that we are asked not to say it or use it in Liturgy.

If you want to use a Hebrew name in you own reading use Adonai and you will have given your reading an authentic Jewish flavour.



Last Weeks Extras


Moses and the incident of the Golden Calf – Exodus 32: 1-30

-We could consider why an episode of law breaking coincides with law making?

-We could consider why Moses had to take such drastic action?

-But let’s look at Moses as intercessor;

-interceding for the people, Exodus 32: 30

-interceding for his own brother Aaron, Deuteronomy 9: 20


And Jesus interceding for us with the Father in heaven;

Romans 8: 34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.


Pauls Letter to the Ephesians

Have you figured out what our sword is?

Eph 6: 17  …and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword.

Answer – The Bible



This week’s extras


Old Testament – There are times when I just like to read the bible for enjoyment, so here is a bit from Judges just for fun.

Judges 4: 1 to 22,  A tale of two women – Deborah and Jael

You may want to reflect on the interplay between Deborah and Barak and his reluctance to do battle.  She certainly comes out better than he.

Then we come to Jael.  I’m not drawing any great lesson from this so all the men can rest easy in their beds, but one question does come to mind.  How long was this tent peg?


New Testament – Back to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians

In this letter in various places Paul uses the word saints with a small “s”.

This occurs in Eph 1:1, 15, 18;  2:19;  3:8, 18;  4:12;  5:3;  6:18


As Catholics we are accustomed to the word Saints with a capital “S” as applied to those recognised as such by the church following their deaths and a process of canonisation.  But just what does Paul mean when he uses this word saints with a small “s”.


As the epistles were originally written in Greek it is useful to look at what Greek word is being used here, bear with me because this is really good.

The Greek word used is ἅγιος, putting this into English letters gives us hagios from which we get the word hagiography which means writings (biographies) of the lives of the Saints.  The word can also be translated as holy and can be applied to people or things.  Therefore as applied to people we can see this as saints – holy people.


So how does this work in St Paul’s context of saints with a small “s”.

Paul is applying this to people in the church.

What might their characteristics be?

-They have believed in the Lord Jesus.

-They have repented.

-They have been baptised.

-They have received the Holy Spirit.

-They persevere, that is they are going on with the Lord even in the face of difficulties and sufferings, indeed this is why they need the armour of God as mentioned in Eph 6: 10-17.


Now if we have those same characteristics, then we can say we are saints with a small “s”.  This is absolutely incredible and fantastic especially as I don’t see myself as holy.

Consider a line from the song, “Take our bread”

  • Your holy people stand washed in your blood


You Tube – Take our bread we ask you



So there we have it, holy not of ourselves but because Jesus makes us so.  He takes our sins and gives us His righteousness.  What an exchange.


Are you ready to sing “When the saints go marching in.”



Marking out next weeks scriptures.






The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 2, GOD

Big Picture Bible Course – Session 2, GOD


Bible Overview


Key events and people Book
Creation Genesis
Fall Genesis
Flood Genesis
Abraham Genesis
Isaac Genesis
Jacob Genesis
12 sons-12 tribes Genesis
Egypt Exodus
Moses Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Deliverance Exodus
10 Commandments Exodus
Golden Calf Exodus
Wanderings Exodus, Deuteronomy
Joshua and Caleb Deuteronomy , Joshua
Settling the Promised Land Joshua
Time of the Judges Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel
Time of the Kings and Prophets 1&2 Sam, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel etc. to Malachi
Kingdom splits in two 1&2 K, 1&2 Chron
Israel overrun by Assyria – 10 tribes disappear 2 Kings
Disaster – Judah overrun by Babylon

Temple destroyed, people taken into exile

2 Kings
Exile in Babylon Daniel, Esther
Return from Babylon,

Temple rebuilt

Ezra, Nehemiah
Time of the Maccabees 1&2 Maccabees
Time of Herod the Great Matthew,
Jesus Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Revelation
The Apostles Letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude

Opening Prayer


  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Charles de Foucald’s Prayer of Abandonment


Father I abandon myself into your hands;  Do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you; I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

For I love you, Lord and so need to give myself,

To surrender myself into your hands without reserve

And with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.


Time of Sharing

How did you get on with the week’s tasks?

  • The prayer
  • The verse from Proverbs, your hopes for the course.
  • The verse from Colossians, making room in your heart.
  • Luke 24: 44-45 & 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12, drawing
  • Ephesians 1: 15-23, Paul’s prayer
  • Psalm 119: 9-18
  • The Big Read Psalm 119: 89 to 152 – do any verses stand out, i.e. vs 105


Scriptures from Last Week


Proverbs 2: 1-5 – My son, if you take my words to heart, if you set store by my commandments, tuning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to truth; yes, if your plea is for clear perception, if you cry out for discernment, if you look for it as if it were silver, and search for it as for buried treasure, you will then understand what the fear of the Lord is, and discover the knowledge of discernment.


Colossians 3: 16 – Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.  Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom.  With gratitude in your hearts sing Psalms and Hymns and inspired songs to God.


Luke 24: 44-45 – Then He told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’  He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures.


1 Corinthians 2: 11-12 – After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.  Now instead of the Spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts he has given us.


Ephesians 1: 17-18 – May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him.  May he enlighten the eyes so that you can see what hope His call holds for you, what rich glories He has promised the saints will inherit.


Psalm 119 vs 10 – I have sought you will all my heart, do not let me stray from Your commandments.

vs 18 – Open my eyes: I shall concentrate on the marvels of  Your law.

vs 105 – Now Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.


Do you notice any common themes in these verses of scripture?

Do they relate to the theme of the session? (God’s plan)


Incidentally the Psalms are to King David as the Proverbs are to King Solomon.  Look at the opening to Psalm 3 (Psalm of David) and Proverbs 1:1 (The Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel).


We are in good company!




Read the overview for Session 2 – God (red edged pages)


And then we’ll watch the DVD, I found some of this quite moving.







Scriptures for marking for next weeks tasks.


Isaiah 40: 12-15,  1 Kings 19: 11-13,  Exodus 3: 13-15


Romans 1: 20,  Hebrews 1: 1-4


2 Corinthians 10: 4-5,  Romans 12:2


Zephaniah 3: 17,  1 John 3: 1-3,  Ephesians 3: 18-19


Exodus 15: 11,  Exodus 34: 5-6,  Isaiah 46: 9-10,  Revelation 1: 8


The tasks for next week look to have a Lenten feel to them and could easily lead into the Sacrament of Reconciliation.



Claude’s alternative tasks (or as well as)


Old Testament Reading  Exodus 32: 1-30

The Golden Calf


I often wondered why Aaron was let off of his part in this episode.

Have a look at Deuteronomy 9:20.  You might want to read from vs 7 to 21.


A verse that might make you smile is Exodus 34: 1 – God gives Moses a little reminder.



New Testament Reading


We’ve had a few references to Paul’s letter to Ephesians, so why not read the whole letter.

Note 1. Pauls opening  – Ch 1: vs 1-2

  1. How many blessings? Ch1: vs 3
  2. Paul, a prisoner – Ch 3:vs 1 (probably in Rome)
  3. Paul’s prayer Ch 3: vs 14-21
  4. The armour of God – Ch 6: vs 10-20.  I wonder if Paul wrote this with a soldier next to him,  What is our sword?  When you find out wave it in the air.


Hymn – What a faithful God have I


The Big Picture Bible Course – notes from Session 1, The Plan

The Big Picture Bible Course  (those doing the course will already have the Book and DVD)

At home watch the Trailer on the DVD and Session 1 – The Plan again.

God is the author of Sacred Scripture.  “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 105

Sacred scripture must be read in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.  CCC 111(abridged)

 And so we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us as we study the Scriptures.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

Lord, by the light of your Holy Spirit

you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In that same Spirit

Help us to relish what is right

And always rejoice in your consolation.

Enlighten the eyes of our understanding and warm our hearts as we study the Scriptures.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


DVD – The Big Picture Trailer

 Let’s put a few markers in our bibles to get an idea of its layout.  (Strips of paper marked Contents, OT, NT etc.)

Put one in at the contents page, one where the Old Testament starts at Genesis,  and one in where the New Testament begins at Matthews Gospel.

We can see already that the bible is mostly comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament takes up the last quarter.

Put another marker in at probably the most famous verse in the bible John 3: 16.  This verse really summarises God’s plan.

DVD – Session 1 The Plan

Read the overview in the book and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Tasks for the week as given in your course book

Mark the Scriptures if it helps.

Day 1.  Compose a prayer expressing a desire to know God better.  You could use a set prayer or start with an opening such as “Heavenly Father…”

Day 2.  Bible Reference – Proverbs 2: 1-5.  Reflect on the words and what you would like to gain from the Big Picture Course and write down a few thoughts.

Day 3. Bible Reference – Colossians 3:16.   How can we make room in our hearts for the word of Christ.  Again write down a few thoughts.

Day 4. Bible References – Luke 24: 44-45 & 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12.  Have a go at doing a drawing of the Christian life (the book says Salvation History) and your place in it.  If drawing isn’t your thing just describe it.

Day 5. Bible Reference – Ephesians 1: 15-23.  Make Paul’s prayer your own and write down your feelings.

Day 6. Bible Reference – Psalm 119: 9-18.  The book says take a walk, if you can, (or just pray quietly) and talk to God, ask Him for a life changing encounter with Him.  What would you like to share with the group next time?

The Weekly Big Read – Psalm 119: 89-152  The book doesn’t ask you to write anything down, but if a verse jumps out at you, you might want to write that one down.


You Tube Hymn

Summary – Approaches to reading the bible

The Big Picture Bible Course Lectio Divina – Divine Reading Claude’s approach
Pray it – ask the Holy Spirit to help you Read Read it
Dig it – read and reflect on the Scripture Reflect What do you notice?
Declare it – read it (or part of it) aloud Pray What jumps out at you?
Share it Act Do any prayers, songs hymns come to mind?
Live it How would you apply the Scripture?