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Herein Is Love Commentaries: Genesis and Exodus Review by Maggi Beardsley

By Nancy E. Ganz
Shepherd Press
PO Box 24
Wapwallopen, PA 18660

Sometimes my children ask me questions about the Bible, and I need to drag out my Bible commentary, read it, comprehend it, and then decide how to explain that to young children. Sometimes they ask deep questions about the Bible, but what they want to know and what I think they are asking are two different things. Children experience the Bible differently from adults. Thankfully, Nancy Ganz has begun writing Bible commentaries for children so that I can better guide my children. She provides background history to the passages as well as great descriptions. I am reviewing the first two books in the series: Herein is Love: Genesis and Herein is Love: Exodus

Her first book, Herein is Love: Genesis, is the one assignment my daughter runs to do every day. Eloquent, beautiful, and inspiring are good words to describe the book. It is a thick book with over 500 pages, and it is meant to be read aloud with children. There are 68 lessons. The lessons include the author's comments as well as illustrations from Scripture and direct quotes from the Bible. There is a teacher's guide for each lesson at the back of the book. The Book of Psalms for Singing is suggested for the psalm singing.

The second book, Herein is Love: Exodus, is half of the size of the first book and has 28 lessons. This book has more history to it, reminding the reader of the events in other parts of the Bible that apply to the events in Exodus. For example, for the passage discussing God sending Moses to Pharaoh (Exodus 3:1-4:17), Ms. Ganz outlines the eight ways in which God had given Moses provisions for his journey, something that I need reminding of. She also writes with great expression, answering the questions that children have. For example, your child might wonder, "What did the plagues look like?" Ms. Ganz writes, "They [the frogs] squatted on the king's table and perched on his plates. . . . Pharaoh was disgusted. He could not eat."

These books came out of Ms. Ganz's experience as a pastor's wife. She found herself responsible for teaching the children, and she wrote the books to teach the children about the love of God, hoping that it would "bring them ever closer to Christ." They are not for the casual Bible reader. These are deep, thoughtful, comprehensive lessons meant to help the children experience and comprehend the Bible.

Herein is Love: Genesis has brought my daughter closer to God. It expounds on God's relationship with His people. It beautifully describes God's creation. For example, in Lesson 9 (sixth day of creation) Mrs. Ganz writes, "Now there were fat funny hippos wallowing in the water; there were graceful deer leaping through the woods. . . . How could it be that from dust came the mighty movement of the great monsters and the fragile flight of delicate lacewings? How could it be? With God, nothing is impossible!" Mrs. Ganz writes with such descriptive language that you can see the hippos and the deer in your minds eye and get a tiny glimpse of the joy that God must have had during the creation.

These books can be used alone with one child, as we did, or with an entire family or with a whole class, as they were originally designed. Each lesson is a few pages and covers a few verses of Genesis or Exodus. I usually read it to my daughter. The teacher's guide has a suggested visual aid, memory work, a suggested craft, review questions, a prayer, suggested psalms to sing, and a suggested field trip. Ms. Ganz suggests using photographs rather than clip art as well as maps. The craft section is meant to give the teacher ideas. Sometimes we did a craft or took a field trip. Each time my daughter would read the prayer, which exposed her to a different style of prayer than she was accustomed to.

Having spent just a little time in a church with rote prayers, I understand the value of well-thought-out, written prayers. However, I tend to only practice spontaneous praying with my children. Therefore, I very much appreciated the written prayers that Mrs. Ganz had for each day. The prayers focused us on the lesson. It also gave us an opportunity to discuss the structure of the prayer.

My daughter loved the craft and field trip suggestions. Some were easy (like visiting an elderly friend or a garden), and some weren't so easy. I also looked forward to reading the lessons each day because they were so beautiful and so refreshing. In the beginning of the book, Ms. Ganz's descriptions were so vivid that I felt like I was walking in the Garden of Eden, breathing the new air and walking with the animals. For both mother and daughter, Herein is Love: Genesis and Herein is Love: Exodus were an uplifting, spiritually rich experience.

When I first opened the book and saw that there weren't any pictures, I thought that my daughter wouldn't enjoy it. On the contrary! It is her favorite Bible study! The only thing I would have liked the author to add is the answers to the review questions. The questions aren't too difficult, but sometimes mom gets distracted.

If you are looking for a book that creates pictures in your child's mind about the love that God had for all of us when He created the earth and all that is in it, Herein is Love: Genesis is the book for you. If you would like to have your children experience the exodus, Herein is Love: Exodus is the one you need. These books have helped our family to worship God and see how magnificent His love is for us.

Product review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2008