Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The Big Picture Story Bible

Two things made me walk into the bookshop at Moore Theological College in the last few days and emerge with an armful of kids books. One; the first kids’ Bible we ever owned is wearing out (our three girls are 4, 6, and 8 and it has done great service over the years). Two; the principal at Moore, Dr John Woodhouse, had mentioned some books that he thought I ought to be reviewing and top of the list was David Helm’s The Big Picture Story Bible .

And actually, the third reason is that it is not far from Christmas, and now is the time to start stocking up on stocking fillers that may actually help my girls spiritually, not just feed their materialism.

At any rate, blog readers who are into this sort of thing will hopefully also benefit from that armload of books, since this is the first in a series of maybe half-a-dozen reviews of Christian children’s books that I plan to post both here and on the Matthias Media website in the next few weeks.

Top of the list is the one I just mentioned, David Helm’s Big Picture Story Bible. And yep, the pictures are big, and the book is too, though not too big for manhandling at the dinner table. The parental reader will appreciate the size of both book and illustrations when faced with the regular complaint “I can’t see!” Because this one, you can see (so sit quietly!).

But the real reason this particular Big Picture Bible is so well-named is that it actually does provide, in the course of 26 parts, the Big Bible Picture. It begins with an explanation of Adam and Eve as made in the image of God, ruling over the world (and incidentally shows one of the few pictures I have seen where there is more than one lousy tree in the garden during the conversation with the snake, who is clearly identified as Satan). The promises to Abraham are clearly explained and referred to in the rest of the Story Bible. David receives the promise that a son of his will be the ‘forever King’, and once again, the story from this point on reminds the children hearing the story that we are looking forward to the one who will fulfil these promises. The Passover and temple sacrifices are explained and provide the groundwork for understanding that the Lord Jesus, who is the ‘forever King’ promised, is also the one who offers a sacrifice for sin and dies in our place. His bodily resurrection is clearly taught, along with his divinity and the power of the (divine) Holy Spirit.

Nor does this Bible shy away from the notion of divine judgement as God’s kingly rule, taught and anticipated from the very beginning of the Bible, is established through the preaching of the disciples. In this version of Revelation, John “saw the holy room of God and the throne where Jesus sits. He saw the place of hell for everyone who rejects Jesus as God’s king. He even saw Satan crushed forever.”

Most kid's Bibles line up one story after another like pearls on a string. Great treasures, but really their order could be rearranged with no great harm to the final necklace. But this is not true of the Bible read by grown-ups, where the story of God’s promises unfold until they are fulfilled in Christ. The great strength of this children’s Bible is that, almost uniquely amongst children’s Bibles, the big Bible Picture is clearly taught.

For the Cheng family at least, we have found another Bible for our children to wear out.


Anonymous said...

Katherine Paterson's books are all strongly recommended -- there's a film about to come out of Bridge to Terebithia, so that book at least is certain to be in the shops -- the movie ads make it look nothing like the book, so read it to judge. And I bet once you've read one, you'll look for others.

Rachel Greenwood said...

Thanks for this G, very helpful.

marion said...

Gordon what are the illustrations like? So many Bible story collections have woeful illustrations & I remember it took us ages to find one to read when our kids were little. I had grown up with a collection (only available now at 2nd hand dealers & op shops) with exquisite color plates so I wanted something of that quality. But as an illustrator, I don't allow rubbish in my house ;-)

Anthony Douglas said...

I was going to say - don't forget the illustrations! They may not be Rembrandt or anything, but they do add significantly to the book. The illustrator has done a marvellous job of drawing typology; pages are regularly laid out to remind you of what else you should be thinking of, and various visual cues are repeated.

I'm still learning stuff from them, two years on!

Lauren said...

I like the Big Picture Story Bible- I babysat some kids who had one, and read it with them.

One (or more) of the stories ends with the question- "could this be the forever king?" and a very clever 4 year old said "No Lauren! The forever king is Jesus!" I questioned her about this, and she said "Jesus will be at the end of the book, we're waiting for him". And looked at me like I was silly, because grown-ups are supposed to know these things!

I was impressed with what she learnt from it- I was in late high school/early uni by the time I really understood that the OT was waiting for Jesus!

So, when my nephew was born, I bought him one!

Bible artist said...

Hi Gordon
I've not come across tthe Children's Bible you mention. On the subject of childrens Bibles though, if any of your readers are interested in Bible illustration, that's the subject of my blog, The 'Bible illustration blog' If you get a chance, pop round for a visit!