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The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name Hardcover – February 20, 2007
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“I LOVE to give people The Jesus Storybook Bible because from the very first chapter it paints a powerful picture of God’s epic love for each one of us. Sally Lloyd-Jones has a unique way of inviting the reader, young or old, to dive in and discover for themselves the truth and hope of the greatest story ever told.” Amy Grant (Amy Grant)
“Sharing the Gospel with The Jesus Storybook Bible has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.” Ann Voskamp (Ann Voskamp)
“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian–from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning–a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.” – Dr. Timothy Keller, NYC (Dr. Timothy Keller)
“The Jesus Storybook Bible is unlike any other storybook. True, that’s to be expected when you combine the mesmerizing illustrations of Jago and the award-winning writing of Sally Lloyd-Jones, a Brit with an uncanny knack for storytelling.” More to Life Magazine (More to Life Magazine)
“The Jesus Storybook Bible is as theological as it is charming… a very grown up children’s Bible” –Christianity Today (Christianity Today)
The Jesus Storybook Bible is, in my opinion, one of the best resources available to help both children and adults see the Jesus-centered story line of the Bible. Tullian Tchividjian , Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA, Fort Lauderdale, FL.)
In the interests of full disclosure, let me reveal that I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of this book several years ago as a theological consultant to Zondervan, the publisher. I did not know, however, of the fulsome thanks to my husband Tim in the acknowledgments until I received my review copy a few days ago. Sally Lloyd-Jones, a Redeemer member for many years, has done a wondrous thing. She has captured the plot line of redemption in a children's story Bible that sings the praise of Jesus and his saving grace on every page, in every story. Most children's books of Bible stories are little more than a Christianized version of Aesop's fables, or at best, a Christian adventure cartoon. But Sally goes out of her way in the first pages of the book to reclaim the true story of the Bible: not a book of rules, nor a book of heroes, but: “The Bible is most of all a Story…It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is--it's true! There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.” This is heady theology, often missed in adult preaching and teaching, but fully realized in an age appropriate and attractive form that will delight children and often (at least for me) leave the grown up reader in tears. More wondrously, she has avoided the moralism and legalism that so often characterizes Christian educational materials for children. For five years I worked as an editor of children's curriculum, requiring me to review, edit, and sometimes write Sunday school material for children. It is very hard to find (or even produce) material for children that doesn't essentially contain the message “Be good, so that God, your heavenly Father, will love you, and your earthly parents will be happy with you, too.” To discover The Jesus Storybook Bible is to have a unique resource for communicating the gospel to children in all it's fullness. I hope that every family, and even people without young children, would get a copy of this book just to remind them of what the Real Story of the Bible is all about. -- Kathy Keller
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First of all, there are children's Bibles like the Read With Me Bible that are simply bland. Granted, toddlers are not going to pick up on every nuance of a story from the Bible, but the Read With Me Bible often chooses the wrong points to emphasize, entirely leaving out important points of narrative along the way. One story simply lists miracles Jesus did with no context, failing to communicate that Jesus' miracles actually anticipate and begin to realize a new world, a world where God's Kingdom and rule are breaking into the world in a new and exciting way. Now, children obviously won't grasp the entirety of this message (indeed, even the most mature Christian is still growing in their understanding) but Jesus is more than a magician, he is more than simply amazingly powerful, so why drain the miracle stories of their power? If salt loses its saltiness, what is it good for?
Next, there are children's Bibles that don't simply drain the Scriptures of their power, but that actually wrongly interpret the Scriptures in horrifying ways. Two examples from The Story For Little Ones. The story of Samson says that Samson did everything God wanted him to do. This simply displays a level of ignorance about the story of Samson that is beyond belief for someone writing (interpreting) a Bible for children! Samson disobeys God at every turn, and the end of his story is that of a man so consumed by hate and revenge (and who does revenge belong to, by the way?) that he is willing to kill himself to destroy HIS (not God's!) enemies! The point is that the best God has to work with to rescue Israel is someone as corrupt as Samson, yet God is able to use even Samson to rescue His undeserving people! Consider also the end of the Bible, the book of Revelation. In The Story For Little Ones, the end of Scripture is that Jesus will return and take us away from this world and we'll live with him forever. This is exactly what Revelation does not say. Now, I'm not a dispensationalist, nor do I believe in a rapture, but that isn't the doctrine I'm criticizing here. At the end of the book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem descends out of heaven to earth, precisely because the Christian hope is resurrection, not going to heaven when you die (that's what happens to those who die before Christ's return, who go to be with Jesus in paradise). God's goal is not for His people to escape the world, but instead God is working to redeem and recreate the world. That is why Romans 8:22 speaks of the creation groaning as in the pains of childbirth, waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.
Okay, finally on to The Jesus Storybook Bible. This Bible works to explain the big idea, and big picture of the Scriptures at every turn. The focus is on God's love for the lost, the great problem of sin, and the great hope we have in Christ. So, for example, the story of the Exodus is told not as the story of God's great magic show, but instead on the great, mighty, and terrifying rescue of God's people from their slavery, pointing forward also to humanity's slavery to sin and coming rescue in Jesus. That is why the subtitle to this Bible is "Every Story Whispers His Name." Every story anticipates the coming of Jesus and the great rescue he brings to those who put their faith in him. This is a great Reformed concept, and a great Reformed work for children (I am an evangelical Presbyterian, by the way).
Now is this Bible perfect? No, and no translation is, much less a paraphrase. Other have commented on some of the shortcomings of this Bible. Sometimes the language and tone is a bit casual, although casual doesn't necessarily mean disrespectful. Every story doesn't say as much as it could, although this is a strength rather than a weakness for a paraphrase (See: The Message). Not all of the theology expressed in the paraphrase matches perfectly with my own, but I see that as a teaching opportunity rather than a fatal flaw, not to mention that I think children should know early on that there are many ideas in the world, and not all of them are equally valid, and certainly not all of them are true. But again, the strength of this Bible is that it gets the story right, interpreting the main idea correctly and always pointing toward Jesus.
The Jesus Storybook Bible contains many stories from both the Old and New Testaments that children would be likely to hear at Sunday School or kids' groups that teach Bible lessons. The book is 351 pages long and contains 21 stories from the Old Testament and 23 stories from the New Testament. Each story ranges from about six to ten pages in length and contains beautiful, colorful pictures that go along with the stories. The pages are glossy and the book is a hardcover, measuring 6 1/2 inches by 7 3/4 inches by 1 inch. Unless otherwise noted, all of the Scripture notations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
When we received this Bible, my kids initially weren't too interested in it but they started asking for me to read it after awhile. My son, especially, loves it and calls it the "Bible book." A lot of times I will find him sitting and looking through the pictures. I love that the stories are paraphrased for kids to make the stories simple and easy to understand, not to mention FUN! The stories are told in words that kids are likely to understand and they are easy for parents to explain if an explanation is needed. I'd say the stories take about ten minutes to read, give or take a few if you take some extra time to explain more of the story or the pictures so they would be great for bedtime stories.
I cannot recommend this book enough because my kids LOVE it! They weren't too interested in this Bible at first but now they love it and ask for me to read it fairly often. There are a lot of stories that kids are likely to hear in Sunday School so this would be a great book to help reinforce their learning and understanding of them. I'm so glad we purchased this Bible for my twins, who are now four. It's a fun way for them to learn Bible stories and it would make a great gift for many children!
For someone who may be familiar with the full version of the Bible and may be concerned about teaching children biblical accuracy, this book may be found a bit frustrating. Since other reviewers have thoroughly described the inaccuracies and artistic liberties taken in the Jesus Storybook Bible, I won't go into detail regarding those. Those are the same types of things that bother me. While the illustrations are whimsical and a great accompaniment to the text, and the story language is simple and easy to follow, there are an awful lot of unnecessary additions. These embellishments could possibly be helpful in a quest to grasp situational context, but they more seem to be wild imaginations that may or may not veer too far. In a read aloud, the distracting sentences can be omitted.
Still, I would recommend this book as a gift for anyone who may want to know more about the Bible or who may want to introduce their children to the Bible. While it very much diminishes the basic wrongness of sin along with our sinful guilt, it very much raises the centrality of Jesus to the story of the Bible and depicts very well the fact that most of the Old Testament stories are pictures of Jesus. It could be extremely helpful as a summary for anyone just beginning to study the Bible or for many of us who have studied the Bible for years without realizing these things. It is very well done.