“Introduction to the Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Introduction,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
“Our purpose is to help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion , 1).
To achieve our purpose, we teach students the doctrines and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and in the words of the prophets. These doctrines and principles are taught in a way that leads to understanding and edification. We help students fulfill their role in the learning process and prepare them to teach the gospel to others.
To accomplish these aims, you and the students you teach are encouraged to incorporate the following Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning as you study the scriptures together:
Teach and learn by the Spirit.
Cultivate a learning environment of love, respect, and purpose.
Study the scriptures daily, and read the text for the course. [Charts for tracking scripture reading of the entire Old Testament can be found with the Old Testament Scripture Mastery Cards on LDS.org and on store.lds.org (item no. 10555).]
Understand the context and content of the scriptures and the words of the prophets.
Identify, understand, feel the truth and importance of, and apply gospel doctrines and principles.
Explain, share, and testify of gospel doctrines and principles.
Master key scripture passages and the Basic Doctrines” (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 10).
In addition to accomplishing these aims, you are to help students be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to discern truth from error. Students may have questions about the Church’s doctrine, history, or position on social issues. You can prepare students to address such questions by helping them to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118) and by using the resources in the Seek Truth section of si.lds.org.
This teacher manual has been prepared to help you be successful in accomplishing these aims.
The First Presidency has called upon parents, teachers, and leaders to “help youth learn the gospel by their own study and faith, to discover the truthfulness of the gospel for themselves, and to strengthen their families and others by sharing their experiences, insights, and testimony.” Doing so will help them follow the path that “will lead them to conversion” (Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way , 2).
Under priesthood direction, the Young Men, Young Women, Sunday School, and Seminary organizations, working in a cooperative effort, have developed curriculum to help youth accomplish these aims. While each organization has a unique role in strengthening the youth, the central purpose of all youth curriculum is to lead the youth to the Savior and bring about their conversion to His gospel. The curriculum for each youth organization is designed to work in harmony with that of other youth organizations. For example:
“Teaching in the Savior’s Way” (a section published in both the seminary materials and the Sunday youth curriculum) was jointly developed by the youth organizations to help teachers, parents, and leaders learn about how the Savior taught (see Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion , v–vii; Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way , 4–5). “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” explores how the Savior helped others internalize the sacred truths He taught by encouraging them to act in faith and take an active role in the learning process. These principles of gospel teaching and learning are incorporated into the curriculum for all youth organizations.
The curriculum for all youth organizations emphasizes the same fundamental doctrines. The Basic Doctrines emphasized in the seminary curriculum correspond to the Basic Doctrinal Principles taught in the youth curriculum. In Sunday classes, the youth curriculum focuses on one of these doctrines each month. In seminary, these doctrines are emphasized as youth study each of the standard works. This united effort helps reinforce truths that the youth learn on Sundays with what they are learning in the seminary classroom and vice versa. Emphasizing these same core doctrines in all youth curriculum allows for a more seamless experience for youth, teachers, and parents.
The curriculum for each organization is designed to help the youth deepen their understanding and testimony of the gospel and learn how to teach it to others. To accomplish this, both the seminary materials and youth curriculum are aimed at helping the youth take a more active role as gospel learners, discover truths of the gospel for themselves, and explain, share, and testify of these truths to others.
Those who have been called to teach Sunday School, Young Men, Young Women, or seminary classes will likely see a consistency in the approach to gospel teaching and learning. Both the seminary materials and youth curriculum focus on helping the youth deepen their conversion. As part of this shared objective, many of the training materials and media developed for those who teach the Sunday youth curriculum are also used by seminary teachers. These materials are available on LDS.org.
Each youth organization has a unique role in helping youth become converted to the gospel (see Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way, 12–13). For example, the curriculum used in Sunday School, Young Men, and Young Women classes focuses on one basic doctrinal principle each month. In contrast, students in seminary learn doctrines and principles of the gospel as they study the standard works sequentially.
By studying the gospel topically in Sunday classes, youth can deepen their understanding of specific doctrines by exploring the different facets of those truths and teaching them to one another. In seminary, youth are able to discover and understand those same doctrines in the context of related truths in the scriptures and see them illustrated in the lives and teachings of individuals in the scriptures. Furthermore, by studying the scriptures from beginning to end, youth can grow in their confidence that “Heavenly Father is really speaking to them through the scriptures, and [gain] confidence that they can turn to the scriptures and find answers to their problems and their prayers” (Howard W. Hunter, “Eternal Investments” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Feb. 10, 1989], 2, si.lds.org; see also Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings , 20, LDS.org). As youth become familiar with the scriptures, they learn to use them effectively as future missionaries, leaders, and parents. Studying the doctrines of the gospel both topically and sequentially helps youth deepen their understanding of the gospel and prepares them to teach the gospel to others.
The Lord commanded those who teach His gospel to “teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel” (D&C 42:12). He further instructed that these truths should be taught as “directed by the Spirit,” which “shall be given … by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:13–14). As you prepare each lesson, prayerfully seek the guidance of the Spirit to help you understand the scriptures and the doctrines and principles they contain. Likewise, follow the promptings of the Spirit as you plan how to help your students understand the scriptures, learn to be taught by the Holy Ghost, and feel a desire to apply what they learn.
In this course, the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, and the Old Testament are your primary texts as you prepare and teach. Prayerfully study the chapters or verses you will be teaching. Seek to understand the context and content of the scripture block, including the story line, people, places, and events. As you become familiar with the context and content of each scripture block, seek to identify doctrines and principles it contains, and decide which truths are most important for your students to understand and apply. Once you have identified what your focus will be, determine which methods, approaches, and activities will best help your students learn and apply the sacred truths found in the scriptures.
This manual is designed to aid you in this process. Carefully review the lesson material corresponding to the scripture block you will teach. You may choose to use all or part of the suggestions for a scripture block, or you may adapt the suggested ideas to the needs and circumstances of the students you teach.
It is important that you help students study the entire scripture block in each lesson. Doing so will help students grasp the full message the scripture writer intended to convey. However, as you plan your lesson, you may discover that you do not have enough time in a class period to use all the teaching suggestions in the manual. Seek the direction of the Spirit and prayerfully consider the needs of your students as you determine which portions of the scripture block to emphasize in order to help students feel the truth and importance of gospel truths and apply them in their lives. If time is short, you may need to adapt other portions of the lesson by briefly summarizing a group of verses or by guiding students to quickly identify a principle or doctrine before moving on to the next group of verses.
As you consider how to adapt lesson materials, be sure to follow this counsel from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“President Packer has often taught, in my hearing, that we first adopt, then we adapt. If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks” [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, Aug. 7, 2012]; LDS.org).
As you prepare to teach, be mindful of students who have particular needs. Adjust activities and expectations to help them succeed. Communication with parents and leaders will help you be aware of students’ needs and help you succeed in providing a meaningful and edifying experience for the students.
During your lesson preparation, you might choose to use the Notes and Journal tools on LDS.org or in the Gospel Library for mobile devices. You can use these tools to mark scriptures, conference addresses, Church magazine articles, and lessons. You can also add and save notes for use during your lessons. To learn more about how to use these tools, see the Notes and Journal Help page on LDS.org.
Book introductions provide an overview of each book. Among other things, they explain who wrote each book, describe some distinctive features of each book, and provide a summary of the content of each book.
Scripture block introductions give a brief overview of the context and content of the scripture block for each lesson.
Scripture blocks are often divided into smaller segments or groups of verses that focus on a particular topic or action. The reference for each verse grouping is followed by a brief summary of the events or teachings within that group of verses.
Teaching helps explain principles and methods of gospel teaching. They can assist you in your efforts to improve as a teacher.
The body of the lesson contains guidance for you as you study and teach. It suggests teaching ideas, including questions, activities, quotations, diagrams, and charts.
As doctrines and principles naturally arise from the study of the scripture text, they are highlighted in bold to help you identify and emphasize them in your discussion with students.
Pictures of Church leaders and events from the scriptures represent visual aids you could display, if available, as you teach.
The 25 scripture mastery passages found in the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, and the Old Testament are highlighted in context in the lessons in which they appear. Each of these lessons also contains a teaching idea for each of these passages. To help you be consistent in teaching scripture mastery passages, scripture mastery review activities are scattered throughout the manual. For additional scripture mastery teaching ideas, see the appendix of this manual or the Seminary Student Resources on LDS.org.
Column space in the printed teacher manual can be used for lesson preparation, including writing notes, principles, experiences, or other ideas, as you feel prompted by the Holy Ghost.
Additional quotations and explanations are provided at the end of some lessons to give you additional understanding of historical context, specific concepts, or scripture passages. Use the information in this section to prepare to answer questions or give additional insights as you teach. Additional commentary items can be found in the digital versions of this manual on LDS.org.
Supplemental teaching ideas appear at the end of some lessons. These provide suggestions for teaching doctrines and principles that may not be identified or emphasized in the body of the lesson. They may also provide suggestions for using visual media, such as DVD presentations and videos found on LDS.org. Additional teaching ideas can be found in the digital versions of this manual on LDS.org.
This manual contains the following elements for daily seminary teachers: 160 daily teacher lessons, teaching helps, book introductions, and resources for teaching scripture mastery and Basic Doctrines.
Book introductions are placed before the first lesson for each book of scripture. The book introductions provide an overview of each book by answering the following questions: Why study this book? Who wrote this book? When and where was it written? and What are some distinctive features of this book? The introductions also briefly outline the content of each book. Teachers should integrate the context and background information from the book introductions into the lessons as needed.
Each lesson in this manual focuses on a scripture block rather than on a particular concept, doctrine, or principle. This format will help you and your students study the scriptures sequentially and discuss doctrines and principles as they arise naturally from the scripture text. As students learn the context in which a doctrine or principle is found, their understanding of that truth can deepen. In addition, students will be better able to see and understand the full scope of the messages the inspired scripture writers intended to convey. Teaching the scriptures in this way will also help students learn how to discover and apply eternal truths in their personal scripture study.
In each lesson, not all segments of a scripture block are emphasized. Some segments receive less attention because they are less central to the overall message of the inspired writer or because they might be less applicable to youth. You have the responsibility to adapt these materials according to the needs and interests of the students you teach. You might adapt lesson ideas in this manual by choosing to give greater emphasis to a particular doctrine or principle than is given in the lesson material or by choosing to give less emphasis to a segment of the scripture block that is developed in depth in the manual. Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help you make these adaptations as you prepare and teach.
In the body of each lesson, you will find that several key doctrines and principles are highlighted in bold. These doctrines and principles are identified in the curriculum because (1) they reflect a central message of the scripture block, (2) they are particularly applicable to the needs and circumstances of the students, or (3) they are key truths that can help students deepen their relationships with the Lord. Be aware that the Old Testament teaches numerous truths beyond those identified in the curriculum. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the scriptures contain “endless combinations of truths that will fit the need of every individual in every circumstance” (“The Great Plan of Happiness” [CES Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants/Church History, Aug. 10, 1993], LDS.org; see also Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings , 69, LDS.org).
As you teach, consistently provide students with opportunities to identify doctrines and principles in the scriptures. As students express the truths they discover, they may often use words that differ from how a doctrine or principle is stated in this manual. They may also discover truths that are not identified in the lesson outline. Be careful not to suggest that students’ answers are wrong simply because the words they use to express them differ from those used in the manual or because they identify a truth that is not mentioned in the curriculum. However, if a student’s statement is doctrinally incorrect, it is your responsibility to gently help the student correct his or her statement while maintaining an atmosphere of love and trust. Doing so may provide an important learning experience for the students in your class.
This manual contains 160 daily seminary lessons. You may adapt the lessons and pacing as needed for the length of time you have to teach this course. See the appendix at the end of this manual for a sample pacing guide. The pacing guide is based on a 36-week or 180-day school year and includes 20 “flexible days” that you may use to adapt daily lessons, help students master key scripture passages and Basic Doctrines, review previous material, administer and review required learning assessments, and allow for schedule interruptions.
The Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students can be used in the daily seminary programs as a resource to provide students with makeup work. The lessons in the study guide for home-study students parallel those presented in this manual. Students who have excessive absences could be assigned to complete the assignments in the study guide that correspond with the content they missed in class. Assignments can be printed from LDS.org, so you do not need to provide the entire manual to students who need to do makeup work. More information concerning the Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students is provided in the section titled “Home-Study Seminary Program” in these introductory materials.
Teaching helps appear in the margins of this manual. These teaching helps explain and illustrate how you and the students you teach can apply the Fundamentals of Gospel Teaching and Learning in your study of the Old Testament. They also offer suggestions on how to effectively use a variety of teaching methods, skills, and approaches. As you come to understand the principles contained in the teaching helps, look for ways to practice and apply them consistently in your teaching.
To help students treasure up eternal truths and to increase their confidence in learning and teaching from the scriptures, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I) has selected a number of scripture passages for students to master during each course of study. In addition, a list of Basic Doctrines has been included to highlight key doctrines that students should come to understand, believe, and live throughout their four years in seminary and for the rest of their lives. The manual for each course was prepared to highlight the Basic Doctrines as they emerge during a student’s sequential study of the scriptures. Many of the scripture mastery passages were chosen with the Basic Doctrines in mind, so as you teach the scripture mastery passages to students, you will teach the Basic Doctrines as well.
As individuals treasure up eternal truths in their minds and hearts, the Holy Ghost will bring these truths to their remembrance in times of need and give them courage to act in faith (see John 14:26). President Howard W. Hunter taught:
“I strongly encourage you to use the scriptures in your teaching and to do all within your power to help the students use them and become comfortable with them. I would like our young people to have confidence in the scriptures. …
“… We want the students to have confidence in the strength and truths of the scriptures, confidence that their Heavenly Father is really speaking to them through the scriptures, and confidence that they can turn to the scriptures and find answers to their problems and their prayers. …
“… We would hope none of your students would leave your classroom fearful or embarrassed or ashamed that they cannot find the help they need because they do not know the scriptures well enough to locate the proper passages” (“Eternal Investments” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 10, 1989], 2, si.lds.org; see also Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings , 20, LDS.org).
See the appendix of this manual for more information about scripture mastery and the Basic Doctrines.
The summary will help you familiarize yourself with the context and the doctrines and principles students studied during the week in the student study guide.
The introduction to the lesson will help you know which portions of the scripture block will be emphasized in the lesson.
The body of the lesson provides guidance for you as you study and teach. It suggests teaching ideas, including questions, activities, quotations, diagrams, and charts.
Verses are grouped according to where changes in context or content occur throughout the scripture block. The reference for each verse grouping is followed by a brief summary of the events or teachings within that group of verses.
As doctrines and principles naturally arise from the study of the scripture text, they are highlighted in bold to help you identify and emphasize them in your discussion with students.
The last paragraph of each lesson provides a glimpse into the next unit. Share this paragraph with your students at the conclusion of each lesson to help them look forward to studying the scriptures during the coming week.
Under the direction of local priesthood leaders and the S&I representative, home-study seminary classes can be organized in places where students cannot attend a daily class because of distance or other factors (such as a disability). Home-study seminary classes are generally not available where daily (weekday) classes are provided through early-morning or released-time seminary.
The home-study program allows students to receive credit in seminary by completing individual lessons at home rather than attending weekday classes. These lessons are found in a separate manual called the Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students. Once a week, students meet with a seminary instructor to submit their work and participate in a classroom lesson. The student study guide and weekly classroom lessons are further explained below.
The Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students is designed to help the home-study student receive an experience in studying the Old Testament similar to that of the seminary student who attends weekday classes. Therefore, the pacing of the student study guide as well as the doctrines and principles it emphasizes parallel the material in this manual. The student study guide also includes scripture mastery instruction. Scripture mastery passages are addressed in context as they appear in the scripture text, and often writing activities are provided in the lessons in which the passages are covered.
Each week, home-study seminary students are to complete four lessons from the student study guide and participate in a weekly lesson given by their seminary teacher. Students complete the numbered assignments from the study guide in their scripture study journals. Students should have two scripture study journals so they can leave one with their teacher and continue working in the other. As students meet with their teacher each week, one journal is turned in to the home-study teacher and the other is given back to the student to use for the next week’s lessons. (For example, during one week, the student completes assignments in journal 1. The student then brings this journal to class and gives it to the teacher. During the next week, the student completes assignments in journal 2. When the student hands in journal 2, the teacher will return journal 1. The student then uses journal 1 to complete the next week’s assignments.)
All seminary students are encouraged to study the scriptures daily and read the text for the course, but home-study students should understand that they are expected to spend an additional 30 to 40 minutes on each of the four home-study lessons in each unit and attend the weekly home-study lesson.
Each unit in the Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students corresponds to five lessons in the daily teacher manual. After every fifth lesson in this manual, you will find one weekly home-study teacher lesson. The home-study lessons will help students review, deepen their understanding of, and apply the doctrines and principles they learned as they completed the lessons in the student study guide during the week. These lessons may also explore additional truths not covered in the student study guide. (For help in planning your lesson schedule, see the pacing guide for home-study teachers in the appendix of this manual.)
As a home-study teacher, you should have a thorough understanding of what your students are studying at home each week so you can answer questions and create meaningful discussions when you meet with them. Ask students to bring their scriptures, scripture study journals, and student study guides to the weekly class so they can refer to them during the lesson. Adapt the lessons according to the needs of the students you teach and according to the guidance of the Holy Ghost. You may also want to refer to the daily teacher lessons in this manual as you prepare and teach. A study of the teaching helps and methods used in the daily lessons can help enrich your weekly teaching. Accommodate any particular needs of the students you teach. For example, if a student has difficulty writing, allow him or her to use a voice-recording device or dictate thoughts to a family member or friend who can write down his or her responses.
At the end of each weekly lesson, collect students’ scripture study journals and encourage them in their continued study. Provide them with a scripture study journal for the next week’s assignments, as explained above in the section called “Study Guide for Home-Study Students.” (Under the direction of priesthood leaders and parents, stake [called] seminary teachers may communicate electronically with seminary students enrolled in home-study seminary.)
As you read through assignments in students’ scripture study journals, respond periodically to their work by writing a small note or commenting the next time you see them. You may also want to seek other ways to provide support and meaningful feedback. This will help students know that you care about their work and will help motivate them to be thorough in their answers.
Most of students’ efforts to master key scripture passages will be made as they complete their home-study lessons. Home-study teachers can follow up on students’ efforts during the home-study lessons by inviting students to recite or review scripture mastery passages that arise in the text for that week’s unit of study.
The Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (ottm.lds.org) and the Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students are available on LDS.org and in the Gospel Library for mobile devices. The digital versions of the teacher manual contain additional Commentary and Background Information, Supplemental Teaching Ideas, and media resources that are not included in this printed manual because of space limitations.
Teachers can visit the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion website (si.lds.org) for help in preparing lessons and to find additional teaching ideas.
Teachers and students may use the online and mobile Notes and Journal tools to mark and add notes to the digital versions of these manuals as they prepare lessons and study the scriptures. Teacher manuals and student study guides are also available on LDS.org for download in alternate formats (such as PDF, ePub, and mobi [Kindle] files).
The following resources are available online, through your supervisor, through local Church distribution centers, and through the Church’s online store (store.lds.org):
- Old Testament Visual Resource DVDs (item no. 00492; English, Spanish, and Portuguese only)
- Old Testament DVD Presentations (item no. 54140)
- Media Library at medialibrary.lds.org
- Gospel Art Book (item no. 06048)
- Scripture Study Journal (item no. 09591)
- Old Testament Scripture Mastery Cards and Scripture Reading Charts (item no. 10555)
- True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (item no. 36863)
- Gospel Topics at topics.lds.org
- For the Strength of Youth booklet (item no. 09403)
- Old Testament Times at a Glance poster (item no. 00897; English, Spanish, and Portuguese only)
- Seminary Folders (for students to keep handouts and other loose items) (item no. 09827; English only)