by Heather Bock
I regularly read the Bible to my six-year-old son, and since he’s not quite ready for the NIrV yet, I read him children’s story Bibles. Story Bibles don’t usually tend to be very long, so as a consequence, I regularly need another Bible to read to him. We have so many now that JP recently went through the house collecting them all to show the large amount of Bibles he owns. He made quite a pile! Despite that, I was happy to hear of the opportunity to receive a new story Bible to review here.
The Bible I was given is The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible by Doris Wynbeek Rikkers put out by Zonderkidz. This Bible was different from other children’s Bibles I had seen because its focus was on the Holy Spirit. All 45 of the stories were chosen because of their centering on God’s Spirit. It seems that many churches forget to teach children (and perhaps adults, as well) about the Holy Spirit, so this was truly refreshing to see and read.
Because of this focus, sometimes new stories that normally weren’t chosen in children’s Bibles were included in this one. For example, after the familiar Joseph and Moses stories, Rikkers includes one about Bezalel inspired by the Holy Spirit helping build God’s tabernacle. I was glad to teach my child about a usually unsung man of God. Rikkers also includes the rarely included story in Numbers 11 about 70 elders being filled with the Spirit, some positive early stories about Saul out of I Samuel, and the story of Azariah speaking up with courage before King Asa, among others. After reading so many children’s Bibles, it is good to add new stories to JP’s repertoire.
For the most part, this Bible stayed in line with actual Scripture, but I did have a few times of feeling uncomfortable with some lines. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Mainly, I didn’t appreciate Rikkers giving God direct quotes for words He isn’t recorded to have said in the Bible. Rikkers has Him saying, “Today is the day of creation,” “This is really good,” and other statements like this in the Genesis story. Although they may have been close to the original intent, I would have much preferred indirect quotes, or that Rikkers would have avoided guessing what God might have said at all. I especially felt this way about the “this is really good” quote because in Scripture, God only saw that His creation was good until He created human beings, when a different statement is made–that God saw that it was very good. An important point is made there, and it was sad for me to see it changed in this story Bible.
Something else is added in the creation story that isn’t in the original. Rikkers writes that after the animals were created, seasons changed and all things continued before God created Adam. This may be an interpretation Christians can make when reading the creation story, but it is not how the story was originally told. Putting that interpretation in a children’s story Bible doesn’t seem right to me. It seems like Rikkers should have just told the story as it was told and let parents help children with interpretation.
I will say, too, that although my kids didn’t dislike the pictures in this Bible, they thought they looked funny because of the exaggerated long, thin faces and noses. For some reason, at the beginning, they kept commenting on how they thought the pictures were odd. The pictures didn’t cause them to want to stop listening to the stories, though.
Although I had some issues with this Bible, they weren’t deal-breakers for me. I felt comfortable making a few changes as I read to cover what I didn’t feel represented Scripture well. My kids began to get used to the way the artist depicted the people, and I never had any problem with the way the Bible looked. All in all, the focus on the Holy Spirit and the highlight of rarely noticed characters outweighed the problems I found. As a result, I recommend this Bible for any children not quite ready to graduate to the Bible in its full version.
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