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Teaching and Learning

Accreditation period Units 1-4: 2023-2027

The VCE Texts and Traditions Study Design 2023–2027 support materials for teachers provides teaching and learning advice for Units 1 to 4 and assessment advice for school-based assessment in Units 3 and 4. 

The program developed and delivered to students must be in accordance with the VCE Texts and Traditions Study Design 2023–2027.

Unit 1: Texts in traditions

Unit 1 – Area of Study 1: The importance of sacred texts to the tradition

Outcome 1

Understand the history of the formation of the sacred text, and be able to recognise and explain the development and acceptance of the text into the religious tradition.

Examples of learning activities

  • Investigate the religious tradition’s movement throughout the centuries. Describe significant people, events or places that impacted on the development and acceptance of the sacred texts.
  • Create a glossary page and add words encountered throughout the Unit.
  • Map the expansion of the chosen religious tradition throughout the ages.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Create a timeline of the writing of particular texts in a religious scripture.
  • Create a timeline noting the key moments in the development of the sacred text of the religious tradition.
  • Research significant scholars and theologians that contributed to the formation of the religious tradition’s sacred text.
  • Explore a variety of ways the sacred text of a particular religious tradition is used by that tradition in the 21st century.
  • Explore how Paul of Tarsus expanded the Christian movement from Jerusalem to Rome and to the world. Place the writing of his letters into the context of this journey.
  • After the death of Christ, the Christians were persecuted, and many died for their faith. Research the martyrdom of some of the early Christians. Investigate the texts which describe these stories.
  • Consider the impact that Emperor’s Constantine battle of the Milvian bridge had on the Christian movement. Explain what transpired and the result of the battle.
  • Investigate which Gospels did not make it into the canon and comment on why the Catholic Church did not include them as part of the canon.
  • Describe the process of canonisation in the Christian Bible.
  • Explore the major moments of acceptance and / or rejection of particular texts into the Jewish Bible.
  • Review controversies in the religious tradition over the acceptance of particular texts into the scriptures of the tradition.
  • Trace the revelation of the texts of the Qur’an using maps and a timeline to place particular surahs in their historical context.
  • Discuss: In the Christian tradition, what is meant by the terms deuterocanonical and apocryphal?
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Creating a timeline of the development of the Christian Scriptures

Students should note that the Christian Bible is made up of two main sections, the Jewish Bible (sometimes called The Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) and the Christian Scriptures (often referred to as the New Testament.) These sections can be further divided into smaller sections (The Gospels, the Letters of Paul, etc.).

A quick search on the internet will show that there is no agreed dating to many of the writings in the Bible. However, this task asks students to explore the possibilities of dates of writing and the major moments of acceptance of texts. Explain to students that not all texts are easily dated – compare this to most websites on the internet which have no indication of the date, author or location. Scholars have to look at the content and the context of books to determine possible dates when they were written.

Have students explore the dating of some of the major books in the Bible.

They could draw up a chart which lists the books and the range of possible dates of their writing. They could then add to this the section of the Bible this book is found in. The chart below gives an example.

BookEarliest dateLatest dateSecction of the Bible


Yahwist writer 1000 BCE
Elohist writer 900 BCE
Deuteronomist writer 800 BCE
Priestly writer 700 BCE

800 BCE
600 BCE
600 BCE

Torah – Hebrew Scriptures


6th Century BCE

4th Century BCE

Wisdom Literature


760 BCE

720 BCE


Gospel of Mark

40 CE

75 CE


Note: students may also need to learn what the dating abbreviations of BCE / BC and CE / AD mean.

Unit 1 – Area of Study 2: The exegesis of texts

Outcome 2

Apply basic exegetical methods to explore the texts within their sociocultural and historical contexts.

Examples of learning activities

  • Use a Kahoot to identify the literary forms and literary techniques in given extracts.
  • Take a children’s nursery rhyme or a song with cultural references and highlight particular words and phrases. Research possible meanings of those highlighted sections.
  • Identify extracts containing various types of literary forms and techniques on the board, and as a class, identify the literary forms and techniques and the impact they have on the text.
  • Annotate a passage and identify: context, background information, literary forms and techniques, themes and message to original audience.
  • Identify allusions made to Old Testament biblical figures in the infancy narrative of the Gospel according to Luke and explain relevance and significance of the text on the intended audience. Comment on the connections the author wants the audience to make.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Take a local newspaper and identify the variety of literary forms in the paper such as news stories, advertising, classifieds, obituaries, sports news, letters to the editor. Rank these types of literary forms according to the ‘truthfulness’ of the form. Explore the way different cultures might read parts of the newspaper differently.
  • Explore the audience of a particular text and show how the text is written specifically for the needs and concerns of that audience at that time. This could take a variety of texts into account, from religious texts through to the school newsletter.
  • Apply exegetical methods to a passage from the chosen religious text and identify literary context, background information, literary forms and techniques, themes, and the meaning for the original audience.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Literary forms in our local texts

Using a local newspaper, identify and select a variety of articles: news stories, advertising, classifieds, obituaries, sports news, letters to the editor (these could be printed from an online version of the news but should include a wide range of journalistic forms).

Students place each piece of information into categories and name the categories. They may come up with labels such as ‘News’, ‘Ads’, ‘Letters’, etc. They then describe the criteria they used to decide which piece of information fits into which category – this may have to do with content, style, form or a mix of those areas.

Students could then discuss levels or types of truth which are given in the various categories of ‘news’. For example, a letter to the editor, which expresses an opinion, might be seen to have a different type of truth to a hard news article. Students may find some difficulty in deciding how true an advertisement is.

Using one article, students could then consider what needs to be explained from that article to a reader from another country: people, locations, certain phrases might all make little sense to someone who isn’t from the area where the newspaper was published. Students could highlight those words and write a brief explanation to allow the reader to come to a stronger understanding of the intent and content of the text

Unit 1 – Area of Study 3: Sacred texts and later traditions

Outcome 3

Analyse a range of understandings and interpretations of sacred texts as understood or expressed by the later religious tradition.

Examples of learning activities

  • Outline the key messages about the environment and Earth gained from a reading of Genesis 1 and 2. Explore how different ways of reading can come up with a variety of responses. Then, referencing the Encyclical, Laudato Si, explore Pope Francis’s message concerning the environment, and examine his views about using an interpretation of Genesis that can impact on our response to the ecological issues facing the world.
  • Investigate how the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection has been portrayed and represented in artwork over the centuries. Explore how different cultures around the world have used artwork to guide their understanding of their religious tradition.
  • Investigate how the image of Jesus has developed and evolved over time in artwork, sculpture and film. Comment on whether the changes reflect the historical, sociocultural and religious ideas of the time.
  • In the Hebrew Scriptures, Messianic prophecies about the coming messiah were made by Prophets. Compare and contrast the messianic expectations of the Jewish people of First Century Palestine of the prophesised messiah, and discuss whether Jesus reflected their expectations. How did the Christian tradition interpret the Hebrew Scriptures to justify their understanding of Jesus?
  • Research a Jewish Passover festival meal as it is lived in the Jewish tradition today. Explain what each item on the plate represents in the Exodus narrative.
  • Brainstorm songs that have been used to represent or portray a historical event in a religious tradition. For example, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ by Boney M. is a song capturing the feelings of the Israelites when exiled from their homeland by the Babylonians.
  • Compare and contrast the two Infancy Narratives and investigate how they have been portrayed in the Western understanding of Christmas today.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Using film as a medium for presenting interpretations of text and the issues arising from texts, explore how the original texts have been interpreted for a different cultural context.
  • Explore how passages about a particular issue in Islamic life (such as marriage, money, treatment of others) have been used in another period of history.
  • Referring to passages such as 2:62 and 2:136, explore how Islam expresses an understanding that Islam is a universal message addressed to all peoples of the world. Discuss: How might stories of Salman Al Farisi in the Hadith explain particular interpretations of these verses?
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Explore themes in texts such as faith, prophecy, betrayal and sacrifice compared to how those themes have been interpreted in films

  1. Divide the class into groups and allocate one theme to each group. Students research and locate examples of their theme in their sacred text and present their findings to the class.
  2. View a film such as The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; TheNeverending Story or The Matrix and explain how the above themes are portrayed and represented in the film.
  3. Draw a Venn diagram and make connections and comparisons between the two texts.
  4. Describe how allusions, symbolism, imagery, colour have been used in the later tradition.
  5. Analyse how the film draws inspiration from the sacred text in its portrayal of the later tradition.

Unit 2: Texts in society

Unit 2 – Area of Study 1: Sacred texts in the past

Outcome 1

Understand the origin and development of selected texts that express a religious tradition’s relationship to its society.

Examples of learning activities

  • Compare and contrast the foundational story of the binding of Isaac (Genesis) and the binding of Ishmael (Qur’an). Consider what theological lessons emerge from these stories for both religious traditions and present this in the form of a chart.
  • Examine a range of scholarly works to identify the terms of the Covenant of Abraham (Genesis) on God’s part and on the part of the Israelites.
  • Draw a map of Ancient Israel and locate and mark places of significance during the formative years of the Israelites.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Research the background of a particular surah; complete biographies of key people related to this surah, identifying any connections between their lives and messages in the scripture.
  • Identify and describe the historical people, places and events relating to the development of social attitudes and cultural beliefs as found in the Book of Ruth. Identify when and where the Book of Ruth was written, as opposed to when it is set. Describe a range of social attitudes, beliefs and teachings seen in the Book of Ruth.
  • Convert selected texts into a play which has parts for the whole class. Act out the play and follow this with a class discussion that identifies the social attitudes, cultural beliefs and teachings in the selected texts.
  • Research and outline the key teaching of a person who is regarded as a prophet by a religious tradition. Identify and describe their sociocultural and historical setting and their message.
  • Choose an issue and an audience and write a prophecy, modelling this prophecy on Hebrew Scripture prophecies.
  • Draw on particular passages of a sacred text and identify the intended audience of the text. Identify the issues the audience was facing at the time of writing and how these passages address those issues.
  • The identity of the author of the Fourth Gospel remains a mystery; Christian tradition holds it to be the Apostle John. Drawing on the internal evidence from the Gospel itself, discuss what can be known about the author of the Fourth Gospel.
  • The author of the Gospel according to John uses the term ‘The Jews’ to address a particular group of Jews within the society at the time. Discuss who these ‘Jews’ were and the conflict between them and the Johannine Jesus.
  • Draw a map of the Arabian Peninsula and show the following locations: Makkah, Madinah, Badr and Hudaibiyyah. Annotate these to identify their significance for where texts took shape and developed.
  • Write a report on the Jahiliyyah Period (Period of Ignorance) in Arabia. Highlight the religious, social and political conditions that existed in the region at the time and explain how these events influenced the way the Qur’an was revealed.
  • Describe the circumstances that led to the Hijrah of the early Muslims to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) as well as the Hijrah of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah.
  • Research the rise and fall of the first three kings of Israel. Make a list of their failures and successes and the impact they had on the Israelite nation. Describe their legacy.
  • Identify and explain each of the covenants made between God and the Israelite nation. Summarise the effect of each covenant on the Israelite nation.
  • Draw a timeline of the major and minor prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. For each major prophet, mark the kings in power at the time.
  • Amos is renowned for his prophecy on social justice. Describe the political, economic, sociocultural and religious beliefs at the time of Amos’s call. Outline the prophecies he made and whether his mission was a success. Provide examples from the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • Explain the concept of social justice in 8th Century BCE. List the social injustices that were present socially, religiously, economically and politically during that period.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Surahs’ connections to the lives of the Prophet and his close associates

Working through selected passages in the Qur’an students investigate the background of these passages and identify historical and sociocultural events that brought about certain verses. Students go on to research the connections between the messages of the scripture and the lives of the Prophet and some of his close associates.

  1. Divide students into groups and provide each group with a selected passage to read. Provide short-answer questions (who, when, how, why and where) on the background, and historical and sociocultural events, that led to the surah, such as:
    1. When and where was the surah / chapter revealed?
    2. What particular people or events brought about the writing of certain verses?
    3. How did past social and political life in the community dictate the nature and tone of the selected passages?
    4. Who was addressed directly or indirectly in the selected passages?
  2. Students construct a timeline of the Prophet’s life highlighting key events in his life. They then identify the connections between these events and teachings in the selected passages.
  3. Students conduct a biographical study of some close associates of the Prophet (such as Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn Khattab, Aisha or Zaid Ibn Thaabit) and identify any connections between their lives and the messages in the scripture.

Unit 2 – Area of Study 2: Sacred texts today

Outcome 2

Understand the type of authority that a religious tradition currently attributes to its sacred texts, how these texts affect the current religious tradition’s understanding of its relationship to society, and the effects of the sacred text upon society today.

Examples of learning activities

  • Explain the belief of monotheism and its significance in different religious traditions.
  • Watch or read Martin Luther King Junior’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech; take notes on the key points about justice. Note the corresponding teaching of a selected religious tradition and links to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. As a class, discuss whether the points are still relevant today.
  • Collect a list of appropriate people from the present day or from within the last 100 years, who are calling or have called for society to change. The person must be using or have used a sacred text to inspire or guide their work. In groups, select one person from the list and research them and their work for an oral presentation.
  • Invite guest speakers from the Abrahamic traditions and following their talks, draw up a table comparing how Christianity, Islam and Judaism understand and use their respective sacred texts.
  • Canonicity refers to the normative or authoritative books inspired by God for inclusion in Holy Scripture. Outline five principles used by the Church for identifying the canonicity of a particular piece of writing.
  • Explain the biblical principle of sola scriptura and provide reasons for and against its veracity.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Use biblical texts, current Church teaching and the school’s own vision and mission statements to prepare a booklet entitled ‘The Dignity of the Human Person as found in Sacred Texts’.
  • Consider specific teaching from the Bible and social teaching of a selected Christian denomination and explain what the teaching says about social justice. Discuss how the work of an affiliated organisation uses the teachings to guide their work. For example, Anglicare and some of the Anglican Church’s social justice statements.
  • Explain, according to Jewish belief, what the status of the words and teachings of the prophets are for the Jews of today, as opposed to the prophets’ original audience.
  • Explain, according to Jewish teaching, whether there is any distinction of authority between the laws which are explicitly written in the Torah and those devised by the rabbis throughout the centuries.
  • Define authority and describe the different types of authority found within religious traditions. Identify any order of priority within these different types of authority. Draw an authority diagram to illustrate the levels of authority within a particular religious tradition. Identify the type of authority given to the sacred texts of a religious tradition and how this is demonstrated in the religious tradition.
  • Draw a concept map to represent the five pillars of Islam. In small groups, rank the pillars between 1 and 5 in order of importance for both the Makkah and Medina periods, giving reasons for the ranking. Each group then presents its results to the class.
  • Outline the Qur’an’s ruling on Riba (Interest); for example, Surah 2:275–27. Discuss the views of scholars regarding the implementation of the ruling on Riba by Muslims today, particularly those living in the West.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

The dignity of the human person as found in sacred texts

Students prepare a booklet entitled ‘The Dignity of the Human Person as found in Sacred Texts’ using biblical texts, current Church teaching and the school’s own vision and mission statements.

  1. Provide students with source materials and a range of focus questions, for example:
    1. What do Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 (especially Gen 1:27) say about the dignity of the human person?
    2. Referring to at least three other biblical texts relevant to the dignity of the human person, explain how the call for the dignity of the human person is developed. Relevant texts may include: Exodus 22:20–26; Deuteronomy 24:1–15; Isaiah 1:16–17; Micah 6:6–8; Matthew 20:1–16; John 15:12–17.
    3. Select an organisation affiliated with the Church and describe how it adheres to the teachings of the biblical passages.
    4. Read the school’s vision and mission statements. How do these reflect student findings on the dignity of
      the human person?
  2. Based on their notes, students construct a booklet organised into chapters of their choice.

Unit 2: – Area of Study 3: Comparing religious traditions

Outcome 3

Compare the similarities and differences between the ways sacred texts of two or more religious traditions present a particular social issue.

Examples of learning activities

  • Visit a not-for-profit organisation associated with a specific tradition and investigate how sacred texts have influenced the organisation’s perception of its responsibility towards specific community groups in need.
  • Invite a range of guest speakers to comment on an issue concerning social equality from the point of view of their religious tradition. Prepare a report on the presentations that compares and contrasts the viewpoints; for example, how the Catholic Church’s viewpoint compares with, say, the viewpoint of Judaism.
  • Read Genesis 1 and 2, and identify what is said about God, the nature and purpose of human life, the relationship between God and people and the relationship between people and the natural world. Research contemporary teaching about these areas within Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Investigate the values and teachings about hospitality towards refugees in two religious traditions; compare how these values and teachings inform the work of a non-government organisation (NGO) from each religious tradition.
  • Compare and contrast the teachings of Islam with the teachings of Judaism on the issue of the impact of dietary laws in modern Australia.
  • Research ‘The Golden Rule’ as found in at least three sources; for example, three of the following: Judaism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Bahá'í or Zoroastrianism, or Greek or Indian philosophical thought. Present findings to the class.
  • Investigate St Augustine’s Just War Theory. Find quotations from Judaic and Christian biblical passages and Islamic surahs and hadiths which are related to the theory. Research encyclicals such as Pacem in Terris.
  • Referring to both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures, describe what conditions were like for women when the texts were written. Identify a woman from each of those traditions who stands out against the cultural norm; briefly explain her story and her influence in society at the time. If her story is represented in artwork(s) include two images of this woman and make a comment on the artwork(s).
  • Choose a religious tradition and research the teachings on women and how these teachings affect women in contemporary society. Consider: How have conditions for women changed over the last 100 years? What are some of the current Christian views on women?
  • Compare and contrast the Jewish, Islamic and Christian understandings of the relationship between the authority of the religion and the authority of the state in which the religion is practised.
  • Use Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4 as an example and outline the first-century Jewish practices of courtship and marriage. Compare them with a modern western approach.
  • The concept of ‘childhood’ as a specific developmental period of time is a relatively modern one; compare Jewish and Christian understandings of childhood in relation to relevant respective beliefs.
  • Compare the teachings and practice on the status and role of women across two or three religious traditions.
  • Compare the world views of the communities of the early tradition with other relevant world views at the time.
  • Invite guest speakers from a range of religious traditions to talk about how they would reinterpret their scripture to respond to an issue such as organ donation. In groups, draft questions for the speakers, and then as a class refine the questions.
  • Compare and contrast the position of three religious traditions on the topic of euthanasia. Present findings in the form of a dialogue.
  • Create a timeline highlighting the development of the concept of ‘human dignity.’ Make note of any Encyclicals, theological theses, writings, speeches and documents that have influenced and shaped the development of the concept.
  • Explain how your tradition has responded to protecting the human rights and dignity of people and / or groups in society today.
  • Metanoia is a concept that runs throughout the Gospel of Luke. Define the meaning of the term and explain how Luke’s original audience would have understood this significant religious idea. How can the understanding of metanoia in Laudato Si’ be explained and reconciled with its meaning in Luke’s Gospel?
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

The values and teachings on refugees and hospitality in two religious traditions

Students investigate the values and teachings on refugees and hospitality in two religious traditions and compare how these values and teachings inform the work of an NGO from each religious tradition.

  1. Provide students with brief excerpts of sacred texts and teachings from three or four religious traditions that contain teachings about hospitality towards refugees.
  2. Students address a range of questions in their research of two selected religious traditions. For example:
    1. Identify and discuss the values and teaching on hospitality towards refugees in the each of the religious traditions you have selected.
    2. Construct a table that compares the religious traditions on these values and teachings.
    3. Analyse some of the possible reasons for similarities and differences between the religious traditions regarding their approach to this social issue.
  3. Provide students with a list of NGOs from a range of religious traditions working in the area of refugees.
  4. Students select and investigate one NGO from each of the religious traditions they have studied. They address a range of questions that support their investigation of each NGO and how the teachings of sacred texts guide their work, for example:
    1. Name the organisation and the religious tradition to which they are connected.
    2. Describe the activities of the organisation.
    3. Outline the mission statement of the organisation.
    4. Describe the religious tradition’s values and teachings on hospitality towards refugees that relate to the NGO’s mission statement.
    5. Identify an activity that the NGO undertakes and explain how it is connected to the religious tradition’s values and teachings on hospitality towards refugees.
    6. Explain how these values and teachings could be used to inspire or guide work with refugees in Melbourne or rural Victoria or other parts of Australia.

Unit 3: Texts and the early tradition

Unit 3 – Area of Study 1: The background of the tradition

Outcome 1

Identify and explain sociocultural conditions and historical contexts that influenced the early development of the religious tradition.

Examples of learning activities

  • Discuss the significance of a Homeland or other sacred sites to a religious tradition.
  • Research the specific roles of the Kings, Priests and Prophets in Ancient Israel.
  • Construct a chart of the final Kings of Judah, including their religious approach and political accomplishments.
  • Locate and mark on a map of Ancient Israel, the significant locations within the text and early tradition.
  • Analyse how the institution of monarchy revolutionised the function of Israelite society, particularly the years under Saul, David and Solomon.
  • Create a ‘Who Am I?’ game: write 20–30 questions on people related to the early development of the religious tradition and provide answers a few line spaces below. Laminate the sheets and cut with the answer on the top of a slip and another question on the bottom of the slip. Distribute to the class. The first student reads ‘Who am I? I am… (a short description of the person)’; another student who believes they hold the answer, reads ‘I am ….’; they then continue by reading a few lines below their answer ‘Who am I? I am…’; the game continues to the next person.
  • Draw a timeline of events important to the set text.
  • Place key events and people in the correct chronological order; for example, The rule of Herod The Great, The rule of Herod Antipas, The Governorship of Pontius Pilate, The Writing of the Book of Isaiah, The destruction of the Temple by the Romans, Moses, David, Jesus’s birth, The writing of the Gospel according to Luke.
  • Identify and explain Jewish rituals of the Sabbath found within the Gospel according to Luke.
  • Investigate who Elijah is, where he is mentioned or appears in the Gospel according to Luke, and why he is included.
  • Research Herod The Great and Herod Antipas. Draw a table to identify where each is mentioned in the Gospel according to Luke.
  • Describe who the Sadducees were: What was their role in 1st Century CE Judaism? What were their teachings and relationship with the rest of Judaism? How did the Jewish War of 70 CE affect them?
  • Create a ‘Who Am I?’ Kahoot and correctly identify the biblical character, event or place.
  • Explore the origins and development of the Sabbath. Provide examples of Sabbath observance in the Gospel of Luke. Compare and contrast the views of the Pharisees and Scribes to those of Jesus concerning the Sabbath. What message does Jesus wish to convey about Sabbath observance?
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Research people, places and events important to the early development of the Christian tradition and discuss their significance.
  • Watch and discuss documentaries on the early history of Islam, such as the PBS documentary series: Islam The Empire of Faith.
  • Explain the significance for the early Muslims of God's command to Prophet Muhammad to change the direction of their prayer from Jerusalem towards Makkah.
  • Discuss the conquest of Makkah and comment on the general amnesty declared by the Prophet Muhammad at the time of this conquest.
  • Create a map that outlines the locations of the revelation of the Qur’an, dating each revelation in the appropriate location.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

People, places and events significant to the christian tradition

Students research a range of people, events and places related to the origin and early development of the Christian tradition.

  1. Provide a list of sources to support student research.
  2. Develop a guide for their research, for example:
    1. Choose two of the following figures Abraham, Moses and / or John the Baptist. Identify their significance within the Christian tradition. The response should include:
      • the historical events in which the figures were involved
      • the impact on the Jewish people at the time
      • how and why the two figures have remained important to these faith communities.
    2. For each of the following: Pharisees, The Jews and the Chief Priests, write a short response that identifies and explains:
      • who they were
      • what they did
      • why they were significant.
    3. The following rituals / festivals are observed as an expression of Jewish faith: Sabbath, Passover, Feast of Dedication and Tabernacles. Select TWO of the festivals and outline:
      • the historical origins
      • the elements and / or requirements of observance
      • the frequency of observance and the meaning attached to the ritual
      • other relevant information.
    4. On a map of first-century Palestine, locate and mark the following places of interest and provide a brief annotation of why this place is significant:
      • Judea
      • Jerusalem
      • Bethlehem
      • the Jordan River
      • Nazareth
      • Galilee
      • Cana
      • Bethany
      • Capernaum.

Unit 3 – Area of Study 2: Audience, purposes and literary aspects of the set texts

Outcome 2

Discuss the major purposes of the set text, and analyse literary structure and other aspects related to the formation of the set text, including knowledge of the original audience

Examples of learning activities

  • Construct a chart of literary techniques found in the set text, including their definition and the intended effect of the author.
  • Identify the variety of audiences targeted by the prophets as well as a list of the specific messages and teaching of the prophets. Mix them up and match the audience with the associated message.
  • Write a paragraph discussing the social sins between people and their neighbours as identified by the prophets. Also write a paragraph about the sins the community committed against God. Use quotes from the text.
  • Make a list of the people who formed part of the Lukan or Johannine community.
  • Explain the term ‘gentile’ and provide a list of gentiles that appear in the Gospel of Luke.
  • Read a range of commentaries and comment on what they say about the:
    • identity and background of the evangelist / author of the set text
    • Gospel’s date and place of composition
    • purpose of the Gospel
    • intended audience of the Gospel.
  • Research the background of the text’s intended community and summarise the historical, political, sociocultural and religious issues of the community at the time of the formation of the set text.
  • Research other written accounts of the life of Jesus when the Gospel was composed. What was the evangelist’s reason for writing this Gospel? For whom was it written and what did the author wish to achieve by writing this Gospel?
  • Explore how Social Justice is a key theme that permeates the entire Gospel According to Luke. Make a list of the injustices that may have faced the Lukan community and how the Gospel seeks to address these concerns.
  • Consider the message Luke is conveying to the leaders of the newly formed Christian Church. Express this in a paragraph of writing.
  • Create a diagram of the structure of the Gospel According to Luke and highlight the sections that relate to the passages for special study.
  • Consider what questions Luke’s audience is being asked about the crucified messiah, and how Luke addresses the community’s concerns in his Gospel.
  • Luke dedicates his Gospel to ‘Theophilus.’ Using three to four commentaries, explain what scholars say about the identity of Theophilus. Is there general consensus about his identity?
  • Write a paragraph which outlines the authorial intention of your set text. Explore the difference between any stated intention and an implied intention.
  • Describe the Lukan community’s belief about the Parousia and what the Gospel of Luke teaches about the Parousia.
  • Compare and contrast events that occurred both to Jesus and to the early Christian community; explain what message the evangelist is sending to his community.
  • Discuss how prophets utilising similar literary forms can have varying effects on the original audience; locate examples from the prescribed Hebrew scripture.
  • Use examples from the prescribed Hebrew scriptures to explain how every theme at its core relates back to the Covenant of Abraham.
  • Explain the meanings of the following terms in relation to the literary structure of the Qur’an: Ulum al-Qur’an, Surah, Ayah, Juz, Wahy, Qissah, Tafsir, Tajwid, Tilawah, Qira’ah, Harf, I’jaz, Naskh, Maki, Madani and Asbab al-nuzul.
  • Discuss the use of figures of speech in the Qur’an.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Research the audience, purposes and literary aspects of a chosen surah and apply that knowledge to specific texts.
  • Use commentaries to identify the literary sections of the Gospel according to Luke delineated by these scholars; note where each section begins and ends; specify the sections that include each passage for special study.
  • Examine The Prologue of the Gospel according to Luke (1:1–4) and consider: What can be said about the writer of this Gospel? What can be said about the audience of Luke? What can be said about the purposes of the writing of the Gospel according to Luke?
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Audience, purposes and literary aspects of set texts

Students learn to identify major purposes of revelation of the prescribed surahs and are given the task of analysing literary structure and other aspects of selected texts including original audience.

  1. Students work in groups. Each group is asked to pick two exegeses (Mufassir) and read their commentaries of a given surah from the passages for special study and outline the following:
    • two main reasons for the revelation (Asbaab Nuzul) of the surah
    • two conditions for each of these contexts existing in Makkah or Medina at the time of the surah’s revelation: Sociocultural, historical, political, and religious
    • number of verses, sections, and their lengths as well as identifying some clear verses Muhkamat) and allegorical verses (Mutashabihat)
    • thematic and structural connections of the sections in the same surah and other surahs in the set text
    • three people and three events referred to in the surah.
  2. Students analyse a given passage in terms of the following: literary form and techniques related to the unique style of the Qur’an such as rhetorical questions, majestic language, repetition, digression, and aphorism.
    (Digression could, for instance, be taught using the story of Prophet Yusuf in Surah 12, noting the changes in the flow of the narration from his dream as a child to his appointment as a powerful minister in Egypt.)
  3. Using Al Wahidi’s ‘Asbaab Nuzul’ (Reasons for Revelation) and / or other books on the topic, students research detailed analysis of the reasons for the revelation of specific verses in the passages for special study.
    • identify verses for which reasons for revelation have been discussed
    • summarise the lengthy writing and outline the following:
      • identify the situation that caused the verse to be revealed (e.g. the false accusation in Surah 24)
      • outline whether or not the Prophet requested a resolution of the issue from Allah and how long it took
    • identify reasons for the revelation of the same verse.
  4. Using a passage from the passages for special study, students comment on sociocultural, historical as well as literary contexts of the given passage and discuss literary techniques, as well the audience.

Unit 3 – Area of Study 3: Interpreting texts

Outcome 3

Understand the nature of exegetical methods and apply them to develop an interpretation of some of the passages for special study.

Examples of learning activities

  • Generate a title for each chapter of the set text based on the theme or technique of the chapter.
  • Choose a passage for special study and find examples of scholarly explanation that use sociocultural and literary criticism to derive meaning.
  • Identify messages from each passage for special study that the prophet wanted the community to internalise.
  • Identify the historical context of the passages for special study as well as the significant events that gave rise to the associated messages in the chapter for the original audience.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Create a chart that explores how a range of exegetical methods can assist in the interpretation of a passage.
  • Read the announcement stories of the birth of Ishmael (Gn 6:7–12), of Isaac (Gn 17:1,3,16–21) and Samson (Jg 13:3–23 and Deut 9:20–27). Identify the structure and elements of the stories. Then read Luke 1:8–20; 1:26–37 and Matthew 1:20–21 and compare and contrast these with the earlier announcement stories.
  • Outline the structure of the canticles in the Gospel according to Luke. What are the features and elements of canticles?
  • Compare and contrast Mary’s Magnificat to Hannah’s Song, making note of similarities and differences.
  • Explore the difference between literary forms and literary techniques.
  • Explain a range of literary forms in your selected passages for special study and provide examples for each literary form.
  • Annotate a passage from your selected text and identify:
    • historical and literary contexts
    • background information
    • literary forms and techniques
    • themes explored in the text
    • message to original audience
      (It would assist students to eventually do this for every passage in their passages for special study.)
  • Prepare a glossary of important words relating to the selected text. Continue to add to the glossary throughout the year. Create a Kahoot and regularly review understanding of the terms in the glossary.
  • Construct sentence starters for an exegesis and apply them to passages for special study.
  • In groups of three or four, using different commentaries on selected passages, comment on: context, background, literary forms, themes and message to original audience. Collaborate and share findings.
  • Using a table with the headings: context, background, literary forms, themes and message to original audience; read scholarly commentators and in dot points, record findings in the table. It is recommended that this activity be undertaken for every passage for special study over this outcome and the next.
  • Choose a passage from the passages for special study and explain how it has been interpreted by different scholars.
  • Create a pictorial representation of a parable, teaching or significant passage using images, symbols and metaphors.
  • Identify and make a list of all the characters who appear in the selected text and make note of their development and / or significance in the text, what they represent and their purpose in the text as a whole.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Development of a chart of critical interpretations

Construct a chart that provides the scaffolding for students to begin to recognise, understand and apply exegetical methods to selected excerpts from the passages for special study.

The chart contains three columns, the left-hand side comprising of a list of a variety of exegetical or critical methods, such as historical criticism, literary criticism, grammatical criticism, etc. Students can scan their passages for special study and find examples of excerpts where scholars have applied these criticisms to derive meaning. The middle column will be the example excerpt and the final column, the meaning of the verse through the lens of the said criticism.

CriticismExcerptScholar’s derived meaning

Literary criticism

What hath My beloved to do in My house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many…
(Jeremiah 11:15)

Scholars apply a literary criticism by interpreting the verse to have metaphorical meaning, the Nation of Israel presented under the guise of a beloved wife who has been unfaithful towards her husband, in this context to God, by worshipping false gods.

Historical criticism

And I will cast you out of My sight, as I cast out your brothers, the whole brood of Ephraim.
(Jeremiah 7:15)

Scholars apply historical criticism to understand the verse to be a reference to the exile and dispersion of the former northern kingdom of Israel at the hands of Assyria in 721 BCE.

Grammatical criticism

And I said: ‘I see the rod of an almond-tree…Though hast well seen; for I watch over My word to perform it.’
(Jeremiah 1:11–12)

Scholars apply grammatical criticism to interpret the meaning of the verse. The prophet’s vision of the almond tree and God’s plans for the His Nation are clarified through the shared expression of the Hebrew words for ‘almond-tree’ and the verb ‘watch’, ‘Shakëd’ and ‘Shokëd’ respectively.

Unit 4: Texts and their teachings

Unit 4 – Area of Study 1: Interpreting texts

Outcome 1

Apply exegetical methods to develop an interpretation of all the passages for special study.

Examples of learning activities

As this Outcome builds on the skills and knowledge developed in Unit 3, Outcome 3, many teaching activities of this area of study are similar to previous ones. However, teachers should be aware of the developing skills and knowledge over this, and the next outcome.

  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Construct an exegetical essay on a specified passage for special study within a religious tradition.
  • Using a range of completed exegeses of a selected text and a criteria sheet; discuss and then assess the exegeses and explain whether they could be improved and, if so, how?
  • Draw up a table that explores parallels between a selected text and other sections of Scripture. Identify and explain historical context and social, cultural, religious and political reasons why earlier texts have been incorporated in the formation of the text being studied.
  • Identify the theme(s) in selected passages and discuss them in the context of the development of the theme(s) throughout the set text. Explain how the identified theme(s) were intended to address the social and historical conditions of the intended community for whom the text was written.
  • Write an interpretative commentary a selected passage; the commentary should include a discussion of ideas presented in the passage and the relationship of these ideas to major ideas and themes in the text as a whole.
  • Prepare a glossary of literary terms identified across the passages for special study and where possible include the relevant verses containing these terms.
  • Develop a chart that explores how exegetes have applied exegetical methods in explaining particular verses from the passages for special study.
  • In groups, work through the passages for special study, each group developing an exegetical response to an extract from the passages based on a particular exegetical method. Post answers so they can be viewed and others can contribute to them.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

An exegetical essay on a specified passage for special study

Students construct an exegetical essay on a specified passage for special study within a religious tradition after completing a series of shorter learning activities. Teachers should supply written instructions and assessment criteria to the students prior to commencement of the essay.

  1. Provide students with selected passages for special study from the set text being studied.
  2. Develop a series of short learning activities as background preparation for the essay. For example:
    1. Explain the sociocultural and historical contexts of the passage (i.e. what questions/problems/issues were occurring within the society that the writer of the text found it necessary or expedient to address?).
    2. Explain the literary context (i.e. the significance, if any, of the placement of the passage within the broader context of the set text).
    3. Explain the theme(s) within each passage.
    4. Explain the literary forms and / or techniques used to develop the theme(s) in each passage.
    5. Analyse the development of the theme(s) throughout the set text, including the significance of the theme(s) for the audience or intended community.
  3. Students synthesise their notes to complete an essay that:
    1. explains the sociocultural context and historical context pertinent to understanding the passage.
    2. explains the literary context of the passage.
    3. analyses the development of the theme(s) in the passage throughout the set text (as appropriate to the central message of the passage).
    4. demonstrates knowledge of the conventions of textual analysis, including:
      • use of appropriate method(s) of textual analysis
      • citation of passages relevant to the themes discussed
      • ability to link ideas using authoritative opinion
      • use of secondary sources to support an argument.

Unit 4 – Area of Study 2: Religious themes and their teaching purpose

Outcome 2

Discuss themes arising from the passages for special study and analyse their social, cultural, religious and historical context, and the importance of the themes to the original audience.

Examples of learning activities

  • Based on the study of the passages for special study completed over the past two outcomes, list passages which explore the themes listed on the VCAA VCE Texts and Traditions study page.
  • For each of the themes published, identify key passages that exemplify the chosen theme.
  • For each of the themes published, analyse and explain:
    • definition of the theme
    • how the theme is developed throughout the set text
    • how the theme would have been interpreted by its original audience.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    In small groups, select one theme and make a list of all the passages from the passages for special study that relate to that theme. Explore what scholars have written about the text’s presentation of the theme. Present findings to the rest of the class.
  • Reference Hebrew Scripture themes, passages and prophecies that relate to the themes in the religious text.
  • Use examples from the Hebrew Scriptures to explain how your theme links back to covenants and prophecies made in the Hebrew Bible.
  • In small groups, discuss a religious theme that arises from the set text.
  • Read commentaries on key passages featuring the selected theme and write down their significance to the text.
  • Define ‘eschatology’ and make a list of eschatological references in the selected text.
  • Define ‘Christology’ and outline and explain the Christological titles of Jesus throughout the Gospel, making references to their origins in the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • Explore how Jeremiah taught differently to Ezekiel on a chosen theme or themes.
  • Draw a chart to show the development of a theme in a set text and indicate how particular passages add to the audience’s understanding of that theme.
  • Define each of the themes listed on the VCAA VCE Texts and Traditions study page and explore the text’s teachings on each theme.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Religious themes and their teaching purpose

In small groups, students choose one of the prescribed themes and, reading closely with the set text, they fill out the chart below, including quotes, discussion of the theme and scholarly explanation. Students present their findings to the class. Students’ charts can then be compiled into a ‘themes resource’ for all students. Students can highlight texts that are part of the passages for special study to distinguish them from other parts of the set text.

ThemeDescription of the themeExample excerpts / quotes from the set text that support the theme

Scholarship to inform the discussion of the theme












Repeat the above steps to reflect the number of outcomes per unit.

Unit 4 – Area of Study 3: Themes in the later tradition and the later use of Scripture

Outcome 3

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse and evaluate how a textual theme has been interpreted within the religious tradition at a later stage of history and understand how the text is used to justify the interpretation

Examples of learning activities

Note: the theme(s) chosen for this outcome do not have to be from the prescribed list used in the previous outcome but the theme must be demonstrably arising from the set text.

  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Using a theme that arises from the set text, research how it has held a relevant position in the teachings or behaviour of the later tradition. Explore how the later tradition used the text to justify their position.
  • Explore the various biblical covenants that God has made with humanity over time: Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and the New Covenant. Explain the significance of these covenants and how they have shaped the theology of the later tradition.
  • Analyse ‘The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching’ and link to the themes arising from the set text. Present findings via a chart, flow diagram or other graphic organiser.
  • Examine how the idea of stewardship has been interpreted at a later stage by the religious tradition.
  • Outline the role and influence of women in the religious tradition.
  • Explore how marriage and divorce are taught in the Qur’an and how that is challenged by the spread of Islam into other cultures.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Exploring a theme in the later tradition and the later use of Scripture

Using a theme that has arisen from the set text, identify references to parts of the text which explore that theme and indicate how the original audience would have understood the text’s teachings on that theme.

Research a period from the later tradition (after the set text had been accepted by the community as Scripture). Show an understanding of why the theme was relevant to the tradition at that point in history.

Explore how the tradition responded to the needs of the community at that time in history through reference to their understanding of that theme. Compile documents that were used to justify the tradition’s response including references to the set text. How might the set text be seen to be guiding in the tradition’s response?

This could be done in the following steps:

  1. Students explore a significant person from their tradition and investigate their background, life experiences, spiritual discernment and legacy. (This example will look at Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founding father of the Edmund Rice Association.)
  2. Conduct research on your school’s founder: Edmund Rice. Look at his background and upbringing and other significant moments in his life (for example, what it meant to be Catholic in 1695 in Ireland, living under the Penal Laws).
  3. Chronicle Rice’s journey of discernment and spirituality from philanthropist to prophet, noting any influential priests, theologians or people who may have guided, influenced and / or had an impact on him.
  4. Rice was particularly moved by the idea of social justice and was greatly affected by the poverty and lack of opportunity for boys in his community. He was drawn to particular passages in the Bible concerning usury, helping the stranger and loving thy neighbour. Provide examples of how these passages moved him into action and discuss how they relate to the teachings of Jesus. Focus on passages from the set text of the Gospel of Luke.
  5. Construct a timeline listing the schools that Rice opened for impoverished and poor boys in Ireland and outline how Rice’s school differed to other schools in Ireland.
  6. Outline the Christian Brothers’ movement and the legacy that Edmund Rice has had on the school. Describe how the social justice initiatives are reflected in your school’s mission statement and touchstones. Assess whether these touchstones are still relevant to today’s Church.


Create a chart examining how ‘social justice’ has been interpreted over the centuries by the Catholic Church. Consider the key Catholic Social Teachings that relate to the selected theme and explain how they have been developed by Christian Organisations. Look at:

  1. Caritas
  2. The Salvation Army
  3. Red Cross
  4. Beyond Reach
  5. World Vision
  6. Tear Australia.

How have these organisations used the set text to guide, inspire or justify their action in the world today?


What is the Church’s position on social justice today? Read and consider:

  1. Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII 1891
  2. Documents from Vatican Council, 1961–1965
  3. Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II, 1991
  4. Deus Caritus Est, Pope Benedict XVI 2007
  5. Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis 2013
  6. Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis 2020