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5 Stars Out Of 5
August 12, 2013
I am currently in Seminary in a class about Bible storying to Oral Cultures. This book was in the library at my work (IMB) and I just knew I HAD to purchase it. It MORE than met my expectations. THIS is a MUST READ for ANYONE who wants to enhance his/her study of God's WORD.
It took me a while to pass the introduction and that is not because it was difficult to read but the wealth of information that is in it. This husband and wife team have done a terrific job here doing what others have failed to do in their books. They not only point you to what to do but also what not to do in interpreting bible stories. They also show you how a good bible story can help us understand the Bible better. This book is a must have for teachers and anyone wants to better understand the stories that make up the greatest book to ever be written.
When I first read about it I was intrigued, but skeptical. I expected something for a children's Sunday School teacher. I figured it would have some pretty simple insights into how to focus popular Bible stories, maybe how to bring it down to a child's level... I thought it might be a nice book to have on the shelf for occasional reference, but most likely nothing earth-shattering.
I was oh so very wrong. It's way better. This book covers your typical popular Bible stories as well as the less known and harder to 'get' stories. And you know how sometimes when you read your Bible you glance down at the footnotes to see what the 'experts' say about it? This is way better. For each story it gives focal points (basically, how the story fits into Redemptive history, or how it fits into the big picture), context, interpretational issues (what some people have said and why or why not to believe them), background that tells you about the time and place, and mistakes to avoid. It's equally helpful for personal reading, teaching adults, or teaching children. It even tells you when a story is inappropriate for kids (like Jephthah).
You know how you always wondered about Solomon's wives? I mean really, the guy is revered for his wisdom, but he was a polygamist? You know you always wondered. Well, apparently Solomon wasn't a greedy old perv, he made alliances for political purposes, and those alliances were solidified through marriage.
It covers Jephthah. And Ananias and Sapphira. And Creation with great insight. The plagues. And in every breath it points all attention to the fuller knowledge of God. It's awesome.
The Bible Story Handbook is a new resource for parents and Sunday School teachers wanting to clearly and correctly communicate the truth of the Bible to children. Unlike many such resources, this is not a curriculum or lesson plan, but is a rather unique tool that will assist and enrich all those who seek to communicate God's timeless truth to young hearts and minds.
Beginning the collection off is an essay on the need for this book and the dangers of "dumbing down" Biblical stories. It is the danger of hermeneutics trumping exegesis, to use the language of Stuart and Fee's "How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth." Though the gray area theological points of the authors shines through a little too strongly at times (in particular their views on creation and the continuation of charismata), the introduction should be essential reading for all who minister to children and have the sacred duty of teaching them about God from the Scriptures. This includes ALL parents! To sum up the concept of the book, here's a quote:
"Though we might be able to learn innumerable things from a passage, the passage is not teaching everything that anybody sees in it." (p.22)
The books aims to help teachers understand both what the main point of a Bible story is, and what it specifically is not. This is a really useful thing to have, especially for people less well versed in the Scriptures who may not so quickly recall other areas of the Bible that help identify the meaning of the text being studied. John and Kim Walton have provided a quick reference guide to check context, and so it is a book that can be used whether following a curriculum, or creating your own lessons from scratch.
After the introduction, the book is broken into Old Testament and New Testament, covering a lot of the narrative of the Old Testament, and then providing lesson coverage for the Gospels, Acts and Revelation. The epistles are not covered since they do not meet the requirements of narrative story. Each lesson contains the following sections:
- Lesson Focus
- Lesson Application
- Biblical Context
- Interpretational Issues in the Story
- Background Information
- Mistakes to Avoid
The lessons take up around a couple of pages each, so the material is not particularly lengthy, but is written for adults to consult and consider prior to teaching. I daresay that there will be disagreements along the way. For instance, comparing the Walton's take on the story of Jonah with Tullian Tchividjian's brilliant Surprised By Grace, it is clear that they hold strong opinions about the use and abuse of the text that may differ with other writers and theologians. I do appreciate their strength of conviction, but it will have to be weighed against other sources too - no carte blanche for anyone but God, I'm afraid!
I do not foresee this being a book that is allowed to gather dust - with two young sons of my own, and regular ministry to children in our home church, I will be routinely consulting this volume for a quick checkup to see if the lesson is on point, and will likely employ it in personal study and sermon preparation too! This is a unique resource to add to your collection.
A review copy was provided to me at no charge by the publisher. No attempt was made to gain a favorable review, and all opinions and recommendations expressed are the author's own.
One of the challenges for both parents and Sunday schools is making sure that what they teach children is biblical. But, when you decide to do all the lesson planning on your own, it is a lot of work.
If you've decided to teach your kids straight from the Bible or make your own lessons or you give chapel messages to Elementary age children, this book that would be very helpful. In their book, the Waltons have written a long introduction about why we need to be careful to focus on God in the Bible and not the details that aren't there. For a long time, I've believed that God put the details that He wanted in the Bible and that the point of the Bible is God, not the people in it. So often we want more details about the people. Many Bible storybooks fill in these details for kids--but these details aren't in the Bible and they can often focus children's attention more on the people in the Bible than on God.
After the introduction, they outline important facets of 175 stories from the Bible. For each story, lesson focus, lesson application, biblical context, interpretational issues in the story, some background information, and mistakes to avoid are identified.
I think that the Waltons sum it up well
"Realtionship is the goal, salvation is the means, and eternity is the scope." p. 30
If you are reading through the Bible with your children or, like my mother in law, writing your own lessons, this book would be a wonderful resource. This isn't a book of pre-made lessons, but rather a tool to help you. It isn't a book that you will read straight through, but rather one that you will pick up like a Bible handbook, a Cliff notes summary, and use as you need it.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of the book for review from Crossway Books.