Important Old Testament Stories

In the last few weeks I’ve had a number of events, conversations, and even random thoughts pop into my head, all dealing with one topic: Old Testament stories. As a result of a recent conversation with a brother priest, I found myself thinking about these stories, specifically along the lines of which Old Testament stories should Christian children learn? In other words, what is the literary canon of Old Testament stories for our children–or what ought it to be?

I grew up, as millions did, hearing these stories in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, seeing them dramatized with greater or lesser effect on flannelboard, and when old enough, reading them for myself.

Just as the broader literary canon gives each generation the context of our civilization, so the literary canon of Old Testament stories gives each generation the context of our Judeo-Christian history and our Christian faith.

I consulted a few published collections of biblical stories for children, but most seemed dumbed down too little or far, far too much. Without dealing with questions of the actual texts, I’d like to propose a list of stories to begin this discussion. Below is a starting point:

Old Testament Stories All Children Should Know.

1. Creation
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
3. Cain and Abel
4. Noah’s Ark
5. The Tower of Babel
6. God’s Promise to Abraham
7. The Sacrifice of Isaac
8. Isaac and Rebecca
9. Jacob and Esau
10. Jacob’s Ladder and Jacob Wrestles with God
11. Joseph and his Brothers
12. Joseph in Egypt
13. Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt
14. Moses in the Bulrushes
15. Moses and the Burning Bush
16. The Plagues of Egypt
17. The Passover and Exodus
18. The Manna in the Wilderness
19. The Ten Commandments
20. Aaron and the Golden Calf
21. The Land Flowing with Milk and Honey
22. The Battle of Jericho
23. Gideon and the Fleece
24. Samson and Delilah
25. Ruth
26. Hannah Prays for a Baby
27. God Speaks to Samuel
28. David and Goliath
29. David and the Ark
30. David and Bathsheba
31. Wisdom of Solomon
32. Elijah on Mount Carmel
33. Isaiah in the Temple
34. Israel in Captivity
35. The Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace
36. Daniel in the Lions’ Den
37. Job is Tested.
38. Queen Esther
39. Jonah and the Great Fish
40. Dedication of the Temple

This looks like quite a list. Perhaps I’ve included too many. Perhaps there are some I’ve inadvertently left out. I’d be happy to read your comments on this.

6 thoughts on “Important Old Testament Stories

  1. David

    That doesn’t seem too many. Of course, the stories and their embedded lessons need to be presented to appropriate age groups.

    Two suggestions, probably better for 8-12 year olds:
    1. Elijah and the widow of Zarephath
    2. Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones (the boys will perk up with this one)

    Reply
  2. frfodor

    This is good, especially with the additions David suggested, and with the water from the rock narratives which also help to especially to emphasize the major patristic point that the theophanies – including on Sinai, in the fiery pillar in the wilderness, etc. – are God the Son, not the Father, and to connect this to the points emphasized by the New Testament, especially Our Lord Himself in Luke 24 and several places in John. I had a whole series of presentations for parents/catechists on many of these narratives, with explicit connections to Jesus, but they are now inaccessible since they are in Lotus WordPro format, which Word can’t read.

    Reply
  3. Fr. David Sprunk

    These presentations sound very interestinginteresting. Since I regularly use Lotus WordPro, how can I get access to these presentations?

    Reply
  4. Fr. David Sprunk

    I can open files in Lotus WordPro format and copy them to MS Word format. It should not be too difficult to send the files in Lotus WordPro format. I am willing to convert files in Lotus WordPro format to MS Word format. and send them to anyone who wishes to have them.

    Reply

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