Category Archives: Bible Review

Mighty Acts of God by Starr Meade

Meade, Starr. Illustrated by Tim O’Connor. Mighty Acts of God: A Family Story Book. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010. 288 pp. $24.99. Purchase at Westminster for $13.39.

Introduction

Starr Meade has written one of the best children’s fantasy novels I have ever read. It is titled Keeping Holiday (you can read my review here.) In that review I said that Keeping Holiday was “like Pilgrim’s Progress meets Chronicles of Narnia.” Now, she has written a children’s Bible designed with Family Worship in mind.

Review

I am not going to offer a summary of the Bible even if it is in a children’s format. Rather, I will offer a review and critique of this children’s Bible in light of the multitude of Children’s Bibles published in recent years.

Starr makes it a point to hit the major highlights throughout both the Old Testament and New. She spends more of her time in the New Testament than the Old which is actually quite remarkable given she has forty-one chapters in the Old Testament!

At the beginning of each story is a key verse from another part of Scripture showing that the truths in the particular story are supported elsewhere in the Bible. Bold words appear throughout the book indicating words or theological terms that are probably unfamiliar to children (and maybe even the adults). Words in red indicate historic, Reformed Christian doctrinal teachings.

My favorite part of each reading is the “As for Me and My House” section at the end of each day (if you read a story daily). These provide excellent discussion points for the family after reading the story. Sometimes this section even includes activities to further drive the lesson home into the children’s heart.

Recommendation

I realize it may be sounding like a broken record, but I highly recommend Mighty Acts of God to be used as a children’s Bible. Given the multitude of children’s Bibles recently published, I would recommend this one above the others–which is not to say that the others are great in their own right! Rather, the added emphasis on doctrine, introduction to theological terms and discussion points simply makes this particular children’s Bible that much better. I think the best course of action, if you can afford to do this, is to purchase a few different children’s bibles and use them on a kind of rotational basis.

The Word of Promise NT –NKJV Dramatized Audio Bible

The Word of Promise–NKJV New Testament audio Bible (unabridged).  Thomas Nelson, 2007.  $49.99.  Purchase at Amazon for $19.50 or less!

Introduction

This is just the New Testament.  If you would like to see a review of the entire audio Bible, please go here.

While the Holy Bible needs no introduction, perhaps it would do well to explain this project in a bit more detail.

The cast of this particular audio Bible is breathtaking.  From Jim Caviezel as Jesus to Marissa Tomei as Mary Magdalene, they leave no character untouched.  Even Hank Hanegraaff makes an appearance as an angel in the book of Revelation.  The man who plays Matthew, John Heard, actually reads the gospel of Matthew.  The thematic music helps with the flow of the reading as well as the dramatization of it all.  The entire cast, both Old and New Testament, consists of over 600 people!  You can check out a highlighted list of cast members here.  You can access the website for more details here.

Critical Review

Ok, I am not going to review the Bible.  What I am going to do is offer a review of the audio as well as the cast of characters and such.

Cast

Obviously, the cast is star-studded.  Some of the actors make sense.  For example, Jim Caviezel playing Jesus makes a lot of sense with his role as Christ in The Passion of the Christ.  Hank Hanegraaff makes sense as an angel with the success of his apocalyptic series co-authored with Sigmund Brouwer.  The interplay of the various voices helps children to know that “real people” were in the Bible.  It also helps the Bible to “come alive” as it were to hear all of the different voices–it is very easy to get in a rut when reading the Bible.  This dramatized version does not allow for that to happen.

What I struggle to completely accept is Luke Perry as Judas and Stephen and John Schneider as James.  Whenever I hear them speaking, I hear Dillon of Beverly Hills 90210 and Bo Duke of the Dukes of Hazzard (I grew up with the Dukes, could’ve care less about 90210).  It is somewhat distracting to have visuals of the General Lee or bar room brawls when you are being exhorted to “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20-21). Or to think of Dillon and all of his escapades in Beverly Hills when you are listening to Stephen cry out to God to forgive those who are stoning him in Acts 7.

Audio

The original music is second to none insofar as dramatized Bibles are concerned.  Sometimes the background music takes away from the content of the story.  In the case of The Word of Promise, the background music greatly enhances the story telling.

Another quality of the audio found in The Word of Promise are the sound effects.  For example, when John the Baptist’s head is cut off in Matthew 14:10, you actually hear the sword being unsheathed, sliced through the air, down onto the chopping block and then moments later a thud.  It is quite graphic and that is a good thing.  You also can hear the people walking or the oars slapping the water as Christ and His disciples row out to sea.

Misc.

Perhaps the only other negative, in my estimation, is the break between chapters of the Bible.  It is not noticeable when the chapters in Scripture actually break along story lines, but when the chapter comes in the middle of a thought or story, it is quite annoying.  Regardless, that is easily overcome and dealt with given the quality of the production.

Recommendation

While there are some noted negatives, The Word of Promise is, without a doubt, one of the best audio Bibles I have come across.  I was blown away by the quality of the production.  I have used Max McLean for years, but my children have not found him as interesting as I have.

When playing Matthew for the kids on a drive, I found that my boys (5, 3, and 2) were enraptured by the audio.  The next day, my oldest drew the three crosses on Calvary with an earthquake (using arrows at the bottom of the picture) and storm clouds and lightening at the top because of the dramatization of the audio.  Too be honest, I didn’t even think he was listening at that point because it had already been 90 minutes or so of listening to the Bible.

I highly recommend The Word of Promise for anyone wanting to listen to an audio Bible.  You can listen to Darth Vadar read the Bible or you can listen to an entire cast of characters “live” the Bible.  The Word of Promise also makes for an excellent family worship resource as your children will undoubtedly want to listen to more!  Amazon has some seriously awesome deals on The Word of Promise from just the New Testament to the entire Holy Bible.

NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible

NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009. 624 pp. $29.99. Purchase at Amazon.

Introduction

I have reviewed children’s story Bibles in the past (The Children’s Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible) and have found that in recent years, there have been many excellent children’s story Bibles. In 2008, my family alternated between Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible and David Helm’s The Big Picture Story Bible. My family is currently working through Catherine Vos’ The Children’s Story Bible and after a year, we are just now getting to the New Testament. Granted, we have not been able to read every night, but it is safe to say that we have read at least five nights a week in 2009. My wife and I have been trying to figure out what our next step ought to be once we finish The Children’s Story Bible. Enter Thomas Nelson’s NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible (NKJV GSB).

Review

Unlike other children’s story Bibles (even the aforementioned Bibles), the NKJV GSB is nothing but actual Scripture. Obviously, it uses the New King James Version as its text. The difference between an “adult” Bible (I use “adult” simply to differentiate between a child’s version and an actual Holy Bible) and this particular children’s Bible is the use of book chapters and titles rather than the current book, chapter, verse system found in all of our Bibles today.

For example, Exodus 15:22-17:7 is titled God Provides for His People in the Wilderness. Joshua being named to lead the Israelites is covered in the chapter Moses’ Successor Named. The New Testament begins with Jesus Before Time (John 1:1-18) and ends with Final Victory (Rev. 22).

The editors brought these stories together in a chronological fashion which is different from a canonical order (the order in which the books and stories appear in your Bible). If there is any criticism to be found it is that there is not much from the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament epistles. However, there is enough to introduce both genres of literature found in the Bible.

Recommendation

I am truly excited about NKJV GSB. While you cannot go wrong with the other children’s story Bibles I have mentioned in this article, the NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible is perhaps the peak of all children’s Bibles. I would recommend starting your children in infancy by reading to them from The Big Picture Story Bible and/or The Jesus Storybook Bible and then advance to The Children’s Story Bible when they are about four or five years old. Once they get to where they are starting to read, I would have them begin reading the NKJV GSB aloud. With these four children’s Bibles, there is truly no excuse for the next generation of children in our churches to be biblically illiterate.  Complete with a presentation page and a ribbon for a place marker, this particular edition of a story Bible makes an excellent transition from Bible stories to Bible doctrine and will certainly help to cultivate a love for God’s Word that has been missing in many homes for some time.

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos

Vos, Catherine. The Child’s Story Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1935, 6th ed. 2003. 384 pp. $27.50. Purchase at Westminster Books for $17.88.

Introduction

Catherine Vos was the wife of the great theologian and exegete, Dr. Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) of Princeton Theological Seminary. The revised edition were finished by her daughter Marianne Catherine Vos Radius. Marianne shares in the preface that she can remember her mom searching bookstores for a storybook Bible that would show the excitement and warmth of the stories found in the Bible. What began as a search in the stores ended up as a life-long project for Catherine which was originally published in 3 volumes. Whenever the Bible is quoted directly, the King James Version is used.

Synopsis

Unlike most storybook Bibles for children, The Child’s Storybook Bible (TCSB) is breathtaking in its scope and clarity of the Holy Word of God. Most children’s Bibles touch upon the highest of peaks when looking at the Bible. You get creation, maybe the fall and then some beloved stories of Jericho, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den and the birth of Jesus. Sometimes you get lucky and the storybook Bible will talk of the fall of man and the crucifixion of Christ.

Not so with TCSB. You start with Creation and end with Revelation and cover everything in between. Your child will learn about Sodom and Gomorrah and the Golden Calf, and the judges that ruled Israel early on. You will learn the prophets by name and the exile of the Israelites because of their disobedience to God.

The New Testament will take you through the gospels in great detail from the birth of Christ, to why He came, to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. You then move into the founding of the early church and the spread of Christianity through the proclamation of the Gospel. You become intimately acquainted with the Apostle Paul and enjoy seeing what the apostle John saw in a vision while exiled on Patmos.

Recommendation

As my family began reading this Bible for family devotions in January, my wife noted that the stories sounded as though a grandmother who had lived and long life of faith to Christ was sharing her joy in Christ with her grandchildren.  My wife did not know who had wrote this book let alone the story behind it.

Whenever I read this Bible to my three sons–5, 3, and 1–I picture Ms. Catherine sitting in a rocking chair looking at her children and later her grandchildren hoping that this would be the day that the Lord would save their souls.  After they were born-again, I can see Ms. Catherine, with a gleam in her eye, sharing the joys of her savior with her new brothers and sisters in Christ.  I can also see Ms. Catherine spending countless hours on her knees praying for her children and grandchildren.

Like more recent noteworthy children’s story Bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm, TCSB points the children, as well as the parent reading these stories, to Christ at every opportunity.  My three sons (and soon, I pray, my first daughter) sit willingly each night to listen and learn what happened next in God’s great plan of redemption.

This storybook Bible is an excellent resource for children 5 and older though it can be read, as my family is doing, to children younger than 5.  With 110 stories from the Old Testament and 92 from the New, this Bible will take about a year to read through as a family if you read a little bit each evening.  What is more, you and your children will be the better for it both spiritually and emotionally.  There is nothing greater than coming together at the end of your busy day and taking time out to read about God and His grace and mercy to sinners before bed.

This children’s Bible makes a great gift for a child who is professing faith or for a father or mother seeking to teach their children more about God through His revealed Word.

Giveaway (This contest is now over)

We are hosting two giveaway’s with this review.  The first give away will be for 4 children’s books recently reviewed.

  • The Child’s Story Bible (one volume) by Catherine Vos
  • What Does the Bible Say About That? by Carolyn Larsen (review)
  • Do You Want a Friend by? by Noel Piper (review)
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware (review)

The second give away will be for The Child’s Story Bible (3 volumes) by Catherine Vos

To enter,  subscribe to either our email or the RSS feed.  (Your email will always remain private with Christian Book Notes.  If you subscribe to both, you will be entered twice!

The drawing will be held on Monday, June 22.

Once You’ve Subscribed, Use This Form To Enter

[contact-form 2 “Story Bible Giveaway”]

Bible Review: A Reader’s Greek New Testament 2nd Ed.

Introduction

Zondervan’s A Reader’s Greek New Testament 2nd Edition uses the eclectic texts that was used in the translating of Today’s New International Version (TNIV) which differs from the Standard Text which is used in Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece as well as the United Bible Societies’ The Greek New Testament. The text used on the TNIV was assimilated by Edward Goodrick and John Kohlenberger III in the mid-1980’s. In essence, they deviated at some points from the Standard Text mentioned above where the original NIV translators favored a different rendering of a phrase or word.

When the TNIV was translated, Gordon Fee, a scholar in the field of textual criticism both adjusted and authenticated the Greek text that was used. Fortunately, the editors left notes that showed these various renderings from the Standard Text. The editors for this second edition are Richard J. Goodrich, a research fellow in the department of classics and ancient history, University of Bristol, England and Albert L. Lukaszewski, general editor of the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. Both men have diligently studied the original texts and languages in order to best translate this reader.

Features

The definitions were based on Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament. The definitions were revised somewhat if Trenchard’s proved to be ill-fitted for the text. In these instances, one of the following lexicons were consulted: Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich – 2000 (commonly referred to as B-DAG), Louw and Nida – 1989, Newman – 1971, or Liddell, Scott and Jones – 1996.

The footnotes consist of the Greek words used 30 times or less in the New Testament. In essence, the vocabulary you did not learn in first semester Greek is represented here. The apparatus is used to list variants and provide the source citations for any quote from the Old Testament or an Apocryphal book.

There is a small lexicon in the back that defines all the words that do are not listed in the footnotes below the text. That is, all the words that appear more than 30 times in the Greek New Testament.

To understand the significance of the footnotes and the importance of this reader, the editors break down the percentages of Greek words learned in Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. Learning the vocabulary in Mounce will enable the student to know or at least recognize about 80% (110,425 words) of the Greek text. However, that is a bit deceiving when you realize that of those 110,425 words, 29,023 are “the” or “and.” In other words, 26% of the words you will be able to know or recognize are “the” and “and.”

Furthermore, the average verse will contain at least 3 unrecognizable words to the beginning Greek student. It is easy to see why so many students become disillusioned with the language and give up before they have truly learned anything.

Critique

While they boast of an easier to read Greek font, I really don’t have much of a comparison. They offer one on the back of the box, but because they do not use the same text it is hard to see much of a difference. What I did notice was that the first edition text was more italicized than that of the second edition.

The inclusion of the four maps is nice, but not necessary for the purpose of this Bible. Over all, the layout and the features found in Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek New Testament will greatly aid the beginning Greek student. I would, however, keep another lexicon (perhaps B-DAG) close at-hand in order to compare translations as well as alternative texts from the UBS4.

Recommendation

At $34.99 (less than $25.00 at Amazon), Zondervan’s edition of a Greek Reader is an outstanding purchase for the beginning Greek student. It is literally 50% what the UBS4 reader costs and when you are in seminary, thirty-five bucks can go a long way.

If, on the other hand, you are studying to become a textual scholar, I would still recommend Zondervan’s reader because of the cost and because it does not use the Standard Text. I do not profess to understand much regarding textual criticism, but I do know that if there is disagreement, I would like to know the rationale behind the disagreement and the reasons why the scholars chose what they did where they did.

ESV Literary Study Bible

Ryken, Leland, Philip Graham Ryken, eds. The Literary Study Bible: ESV. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2007. 1913 pp. $49.99. Available from Westminster Books

Yes, this is a “Johnny-come-lately” review of the ESV Literary Study Bible (ESV-LSB). However, we here at Said wanted to do a review for our readers even though Said Alumni writers iMonk and McCoy have written their own reviews both of which are worth checking out.  For what it is worth, here is my overview of the ESV-LSB.

Before Each Book

At the beginning of each book of the Bible there are 1-3 pages worth of “study information” which is quite impressive when you get to one chapter books like 2 and 3 John and the Minor Prophets. They break down the introductory statements into the following sections: Continue reading ESV Literary Study Bible