This is not a review, though one is likely to come later. Instead, I only wish to offer a few priliminary observations about this Bible for children, the Jesus Storybook Bible, that I just began reading to my own children at bedtimes.
From my preliminary observations, I am overjoyed by the quality of this children's Bible and excited to experience it with my children. In fact, I think this Bible will not only benefit children, but also adults. This book even has a thing or two to teach theologians!
1. Brown People!
The illustrations in this Bible are beautiful! I love the whimsical, yet deliberate style. But most of all I love the deliberate choice of the author and illustrator to make the main characters brown-skinned. In stark contrast to "The Bible" miniseries which aired on the History Channel, theJesus Storybook Bible does not depict people of ancient Hebrew decent as European/white. Instead, the award-winning illustrator, Jago, was sure to give the biblical characters a darker, more historically accurate, complextion than many (if not most) Western children's Bibles. Nowhere is this more important than in the ethnicity of Jesus Himself. For far too long, children in the West have been deceived by depictions of Jesus as white.
2. Theology of Story (Narrative)
The second thing that is fantastic about the Jesus Storybook Bible is its approach to presenting the Bible: As one "Big Story." In theological circles, this is called "Narrative theology" and it is a better way of understanding the unfolding of God's self-revelation than "systematic" theology. I find the simple way the author presents narrative theology to be both profound yet accessible. She writes,
"No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. 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.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story." (17)
This is a fantastic way to both capture children's imaginations and intelligently communicate the complex beauty of the Bible.
Finally, the most important aspect of the Jesus Storybook Bible's presentation of the Bible is its stubborn insistence that the "Big Story" of Scripture is all about Jesus! Not only is this the Truth, it is also a view that is becoming more and more unpopular in conservative Evangelical (i.e. Fundamentalist) circles. By insisting that the whole Bible points to Jesus, the author is making a profound and important theological statement—one with which I whole-heartedly agree!
"And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend." (17, emphasis mine)
Not only will children do well to learn the centrality of Jesus to the narrative of Scripture—a lot of popular theologians would do well to learn it as well!
Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban minister, sometimes designer, writer, preacher, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.