Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: The Family Illustrated Bible

The Family Illustrated Bible was previously published under the name The Children's Bible.  It is a beautiful-looking hardcover book, but the first thing I noticed upon opening the cover was that it was originally published by DK Publishing, a secular publishing company.  I'm not sure why New Leaf Publishing, a Christian publishing company, took over the publishing of this book.  Don't get me wrong: We enjoy many DK books.  However, considering this is a collection of stories from the Bible, I feel that many of the stories have taken liberties in the re-telling and interpretation of said stories.   For example, there was a statement made even in the story of Adam and Eve that alluded to God being "worried" about Adam being alone; perhaps a better choice of words was in order (here and in other places).

When the Bible is dissected into stories, such as this book, it takes away from the uniform theme of God's sovereignty and Christ's love for us as woven through the Bible.  In reading the Old Testament stories, there is emphasis put on the covenants made with/through various people but the reason for these covenants is lacking.  It would be wonderful to see how God's plan of salvation was in place long before Jesus came to Earth as the God-man; how He was pictured in so many of the Old Testament events, individuals, and covenants.  As written, each story begins and ends in just that story; they aren't aiming to connect the promised Messiah and Saviour to a future event. 

At the beginning of both the Old and New Testament, there are historical points of interest with illustrations.  There are also similar brief sections within each division that draw your attention to events, people, architecture, archaeology, and the culture of the time.  Some points are more relative than others.  For example, I'm not sure why it is important to have a relief picturing four naked men, entitled "Naked exercise".  This particular tidbit of information explains that a Jewish high priest (under the reproach of many other Jews), admired Greek culture; in so doing, he built a gymnasium where Greek men could exercise naked.  I'm wondering if New Leaf missed the boat on this one.  I don't feel that this is appropriate in a family illustrated Bible

There are some interesting facts, such as discovering that Babylon's Ishtar Gate was found in ruin and rebuilt in Berlin, Germany.  Out of curiousity, I searched Google for a date and found that it was finished in the 1930's.  Hitler came into power in 1933.  Interesting to note that this gate represents "all wicked states opposed to God" to the Jews. Overall, most of the "extra" information in this book was highly informative to placing Biblical events in context with their geographical and cultural locations.

I will complete my review with a sigh, inaudible as it may be.  If you are familiar with DK books, you will understand how this book is written.  Some of the descriptions in the historical/cultural sections are written from the perspective of people who possibly have a school degree in "religion", not necessarily a personal relationship with Jesus.  I would encourage the new Christian publisher to comb through this book before reprinting.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for your thoughts and the review. :O)