Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Family Illustrated Bible

Looking for a Bible for family devotions? Want it to have lovely illustrations and lots of Bible stories not found in most children's Bibles? Then The Family Illustrated Bible may be worth looking at.

Previously published by a secular publisher as The Children's Bible, the first thing you're likely to notice about this large volume are the illustrations, created by a team of artists. Most are in full color, and highlight a realistic style. Many are full page and simply stunning. And from time to time, full color photographs of actual artifacts or biblical locations are included, too.

Next, you'll probably notice that this storybook Bible includes many stories rarely found in children's Bibles, like Sodom and Gomorrah, Rahab and the spies, the call of Gideon, Absalom's rebellion, Jesus' temptation, John the Baptist's death, Peter's denial, and the book of Revelation. To list every story this Bible covers would require several pages, but suffice it to say that compared to other storybook Bibles, it is quite complete.
What I Liked: The illustrations are lovely and a strong attraction for both my 6 year old and my nearly 3 year old. I also appreciate the inclusion of many Bible stories not found in most children's Bibles, and both my kids and I enjoyed many of the sections offering a bit of background on biblical history, artifacts, and locales.
What I Dislike: I'm not sure what age is really the target audience here. Many of the stories include graphic detail I personally don't want to read to my children. For example, in the story of Potiphar's wife, we read that she "tried to seduce him...[she] believed herself to be irresistible." I'd rather the author supply parents with an easier way to explain what all this means, as certain other children's Bibles do. Parents might also be surprised to find the story of how Jephthah killed his daughter for God. Yes, it's biblically accurate, but are you ready to explain this story to your child? And when I got to the story of Abaslom's rape of his sister, Tamar, I shad to stop reading aloud. The book reads: "When they were alone, he grabbed her. She struggled and tried to fend him off. Afterward, he sent her away in disgrace." Just how am I supposed to explain this to my children without explaining what rape is?
The stories seem more appropriate for teens - or maybe tweens. Yet I doubt many kids in this age group want a "childish" illustrated storybook Bible.
In addition to this, I notice some of the information about the history of the Bible is...well, inaccurate or misleading. For example, the Gospel of Thomas - not in the Bible - is included in the section on the Gospels, as if it is equal with them. In addition, the Bible stories themselves sometimes contain questionable phrasing. For example, at one point God "worries." In the story of the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites cross over muddy ground, even though the Bible clearly says the ground was dry. Little things like that.
Overall Rating: Sadly, I can only give this book a Ho-Hum rating.
Age Appeal: The publisher doesn't offer a guideline, but I don't feel it's appropriate for kids younger than the tween years.

Publishing Info: New Leaf; 2011; ISBN: 978-0892217045; hardback, 356 pgs., $24.99.

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