The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

When Rico Tice, author of the Christianity Explored programme which is based on Mark’s Gospel, says that from now on this is the first commentary he will reach for, you know it will be good.  Your view is reinforced when you realise that Gerard Chrispin is the author.  He is such a good and clear Bible teacher.   This is a hugely innovative and creative concept.   A simple commentary on Mark, with well explained studies and study questions for each of the 52 sessions which focus on application.   All the material except for the study questions is also on 4 accompanying CDS.   Then there is a Correspondence Course structured on two levels.  The basic level comprises mostly of a series of easy multiple choice questions on each of the 52 studies, with an advanced option which is largely the study questions from the book.  Then there is a Discussion Course, a small booklet aimed at promoting group studies of the 52 sections, involving the same study questions from the book.

Anything that will encourage people, individually and collectively to get into the Scriptures is to be applauded and Gerard Chrispin has done a great work here.  However, I do wonder whether it is somewhat over-complicated.   I am not sure of the value of having all the book material in both written and CD format.  Apart from anything else it prices the 175 page book with card covers at £15.     I am still not sure of the value of the Discussion Course booklet (£4 for 30 pages! and the same price as the much bigger Correspondence Book) since all the material is in the main book and in the opening guidelines it is advised that all involved in the discussion group have a copy of the main book.   I like the concept of a correspondence course but wonder whether, in this day and age, an online, more interactive version would have been the way to go.

There are one or two other niggles, I confess.   I found the abbreviations (and explanations for the abbreviations) for all the different formats and versions annoying and I have not worked out why they have used four different Bible versions at various stages in the course, rather than just sticking with the same one all the way through.

The whole thing has been very attractively and thoughtfully packaged and the content is superb but I fear suffers from overkill and is very expensive.   A single book or CD option would have been better and cheaper, with suggestions for discussion groups and details of an online course.

DayOne Publications (3 Sept. 2011) Review written in 2012