Cover of Frameworks from Amazon.com
I am a teacher and minister by calling, but carpentry is my trade. Carpentry has taught me a lot about the importance of framework. While in business for myself as a contractor, I was consulted to give an estimate for a garage wall that was moving. I am not the best carpenter, but I know walls are not supposed to move. Assessing the situation from the exterior, the wall looked fine, but I quickly discovered that do to rot and termites, the framework beneath the drywall surface was non-existent.
As a high school Bible teacher, I understand the value of a Biblical framework and worldview. I have noticed many of the students I teach look good on the surface and even consider themselves as Christians, but if you push a little—the wall moves. Many of the students I encounter are missing the framework of Biblical understanding. This Biblical illiteracy is a common problem in Christianity today. Push a little and you will see—the wall moves. The framework of Biblical understanding is missing.
This is why it is easy to be excited for Frameworks, by Eric Larson. This New Testament overview helps rebuild the wall of Biblical understanding by giving the basic structural components to the storyline of scripture through stories, imagery, illustrations, maps, charts, and other contextual tools to build a sure wall of Biblical comprehension. This book is free of clutter, clean and neat in its arrangement and is easily accessible to the reader. With over 125 color photos in its 372 pages and its artistic style, this book is more like a coffee table book than a Biblical commentary or study tool, and is sure to get some attention from the less conventional learner.
One of my mantras as a Bible teacher is “next to Jesus, context is king.” The importance of looking at the Bible as more of a metanarrative and less as isolated individual books cannot be overstated. In Frameworks, Eric Larson gives us “the forest and not just the trees” as he unpacks the entirety of the New Testament Biblical narrative in a laidback, and sometimes humorous, tone that keeps the reader’s attention. Larson does not just give us the big picture layout of scripture; he helps us navigate through the details as well. This book is such a compelling approach to scripture; the reader is left desiring an Old Testament version of Frameworks as well.
One of the components of this book that is most helpful, in my opinion, is the less is more approach to the book’s layout and the emphasis on imagery. As the saying goes, “A picture speaks a thousand words.” This could not be any truer in this culture—at this point and time in our history. This is why Frameworks’ approach to the scriptures is so important and timely and adds so much vibrancy to Biblical studies in this visual culture.
Frameworks is broken into two parts. Part one is somewhat of a survey, or overview of the New Testament as a whole. This first part of the book explores “4, 1, 9, 4, 8, 1,” which are the numbers across the front cover. These numbers stand for the four biographies of Christ, the one history book, Acts, the nine letters of Paul to the churches, the four letters of Paul to individual people, the eight general letters, and the one book of prophecy, Revelation, that make up the 27 books of the New Testament. This “4, 1, 9, 4, 8, 1” framework helps outline the first part of the book attractively and frames-up an immovable wall of Biblical understanding.
Part two of Frameworks looks extensively at the individual books of the New Testament within the context of the whole, or the “4, 1, 9, 4, 8, 1,” providing a basic understanding of each individual book. Ten straightforward questions about each book are considered to introduce what each book is like and to explore the theme of the book, what the book is about, and to look at the purpose of the book and why it was written. These questions explore the outline of the book and how it is organized, and the verses of the book and how it reads. We are given insights that help us understand how to navigate the book and how to move through it, while also looking at what is unique in the book and why it is special. The last three questions recap the book and what we should remember, tells us how to explore the book further, and how to go deeper. Lastly, the reader is given insights into how to apply key verses in the book.
Frameworks’ rich imagery and easy application really lends its self to teaching. I have already had the opportunity to put this great resource into action in teaching my Bible classes. The “4, 1, 9, 4, 8, 1” framework for understanding the overall structure of the New Testament has been particularly helpful and has been very effective in helping my students better understand the structure of the New Testament scriptures.
Some of my High School Bible and Theology in the Arts students have had the opportunity to look through the book and made the following comments:
“I like how there isn’t too much on one page. It looks fun to read.”
“This book looks like a book of art rather than a theology book.”
“It has lots of captions that capture your eyes.”
“This is a beautiful book!”
“When you open this book, you see a lot of photographs and different kinds of artwork.”
When I first looked at this book, I thought it was about art. When I opened it, I saw maps and photography and verses and realized this book was about theology and the Bible.”
As a Bible teacher, a student of God’s word and as a visual learner, I highly recommend Frameworks. The illustrations, pictures, maps, charts, and artwork really help the information to stay with you. This book is perfect for visual learners. From my own personal experience, this book is easy to read and easy to teach. The resources and the charts are particularly effective for teaching. The detailed imagery helps the reader navigate the scriptures and remember the information. Frameworks facilitates a unique way to understand the New Testament and to put the individual books into their larger contexts for a holistic understanding of the New Testament.
Chart from Frameworks from the Frameworks website