Manna: Bread for Your Spiritual Journey

Carol M. Bechtel



Carol M. Bechtel has been helping people to find their way through the Bible for over 25 years. She is a widely-respected author, teacher, and public speaker.

Carol grew up on a farm in Fulton, Illinois—a place her husband and children appreciatively refer to as “The Shire.” Educated at Hope College and Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, she went on to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Yale University. She began her teaching career at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia and has taught at her alma mater, Western Theological Seminary, since 1994.

Although Carol has earned her stripes in the academic world, her heart is in the church. “My deepest sense of call has always been in helping people understand that the Bible is a book about and for them.” This calling has shaped her writing priorities over the years. “I love writing devotionals,” Bechtel says. “And I am obsessed with providing substantive, accessible Bible studies for intelligent, curious Christians.” To that end, Bechtel strives to provide material that is:

  • Scholarly without being boring
  • Relevant without being reactionary
  • Accessible without being watered down.

Carol’s calling as both a writer and a speaker has taken her the world. Here are just a few of the places she’s taught over the course of her career:

  • Preacher and Workshop Leader for the Montreat Worship and Music Conference (Presbyterian Association of Musicians), Montreat, North Carolina, 2000 & 2016
  • Keynote Speaker and Preacher at Rathgar Presbyterian Church, Republic of Ireland, April 2009.
  • Preacher for Convocation and Pastor’s School, Duke Divinity School, October 7-9, 2007 (with speakers Wendell Berry, Ellen Davis, Norman Wirzba, and Wes Jackson)
  • Workshop leader at the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Pretoria, South Africa, March 2005. (Workshop title: “Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms’ Requiem.”)
  • Keynote Bible Study Leader Church-Wide Gathering 2000, Presbyterian Women, Louisville, Kentucky

Carol lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom. They have four children and seven grandchildren. She enjoys cooking, gardening, singing, and playing the Celtic harp.







  • Glimpses of Glory. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998
  • Life after Grace. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2003
  • Esther: A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Interpretation series. James L. Mays and Patrick D. Miller, editors. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002. Italian translation (Torino: Claudiana, 2005). Japanese translation (United Church of Christ in Japan, 2007).
  • Touching the Altar: The Old Testament and Christian Worship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008; editor of volume and author of chapter, “Knowing our Limits: Job’s Wisdom on Worship.”




  • Hallelujah! The Bible and Handel’s Messiah, Resource Book and Leader’s Guide.  Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 1995.
  • Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms’ Requiem, Resource Book and  Leader’s Guide. Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 1997.
  • Job and the Life of Faith: Wisdom for Today’s World, Resource Book and Leader’s Guide. Pittsburgh: The Kerygma Program, 2004.
  • Above and Beyond: Hearing God’s Call in Jonah and Ruth. National Horizons Bible Study for 2007-2008. Louisville: Presbyterian Women, Presbyterian Church (USA), 2007.
  • Living in Community. Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2008.




Job and the Life of Faith
May 9, 16, & 23, 2021 (Via Zoom)
11:00 to 11:45 AM Eastern Time
This 3-part adult education series is hosted by Thornapple Community Church in Grand Rapids, MI.  For access to the Zoom link, contact, or call 616-942-0821.

Series Description:

Believers often look to the Bible’s book of Job when they’re wrestling with the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The character Job, after all, is a very good man who suffers in some of the very worst ways. In this class we’ll explore what his story does—and does not—teach about the problem of suffering. We’ll also look at ways we can be faithful Christians even when we don’t have all the answers.

Session One: “What Did I Do to Deserve This?  (May 9, 2021; Job chs. 1-3)

Job and his wife lose everything even though they’ve done nothing to deserve such a devastating loss. In this session we’ll introduce the issues, challenges, and opportunities in the book of Job for people of faith.

Session Two: “The Limits of Human Wisdom” (May16, 2021; Job chs. 4-28)

Job’s friends “encourage” him by suggesting that his suffering is the result of some secret sin. This section of the book gives us permission to ask, “Why?” but cautions us against claiming to know more than we do.

Session Three: “Faith in the Face of Limited Information” (May 23, 2021; Job chs. 29-42)

Job gets a reality check when God speaks to him from the center of a mysterious whirlwind. Job’s response is instructive for all of us who seek to keep the faith in the face of limited information.

If you would like to schedule a speaking or preaching engagement, Dr. Bechtel may be reached at


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