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The Family Illustrated Bible Review by Melissa Cummings

Master Books
P.O. Box 726
Green Forest, AR 72638
(800) 999-3777

An illustrated Bible for the family? What a beautiful, intriguing concept! I must confess that my excited anticipation over this product was somewhat diminished upon receiving and opening the book. Instead of a real Bible translation that has been illustrated, it is a Bible storybook, an artistic interpretation and paraphrase. Therefore I do believe that the title of this book itself is misleading. If looked at as simply a Bible storybook--instead of a Bible --it has many virtues, including the number of biblical stories it includes and the length of text each one carries. While it cannot include references because it is a paraphrase, one of the book's greatest merits is its consistent labeling of each biblical story according to what chapter(s) of the Bible it comes from. This greatly aids the reader in referring back to Scripture and finding the actual references in real biblical translations.

While I do not in any way consider this book to be a true Bible, or able to replace the use of a real Bible translation for any age reader, it does seem to have some great qualities that would aid in Bible study and research surrounding historical Christianity, showing children how God's Word is not only consistent with but displayed in world history. Using The Family Illustrated Bible as a supplement in this way could be a great blessing. Additional resources such as maps, timelines, cultural information, lists of Old and New Testament people, and historical artifacts are scattered throughout the book, making it helpful as a resource. Older children may even benefit from discussions about why this isn't an appropriate replacement for the Scriptures and some of the inconsistencies that are found within its pages.

Perhaps due to this book having been previously published by a secular printing house as The Children's Bible, there are portions included that could actually make the reader question the validity of Scripture and some foundational Christian doctrines, which is particularly discouraging to have present in something that is labeled as a "Bible." For instance, in the encyclopedia-type listing of People of the New Testament, the book describes Jesus as "thought by Christians to be the Son of God and the Messiah" instead of simply stating it as a true fact. Another instance is in time designations, where the book uses the modern secular referencing of BCE and CE instead of the Christ-centered era designations of BC and AD. Additionally, there are some inconsistencies that are actually un -Scriptural, such as the idea that God worried in the Garden of Eden, or that only two of every animal was included on the ark, including Islam under the overarching category of Christianity, etc. These are fallacies that I do not want my children to be taught, so I know that I need to be careful with what parts of this book I read to them due to what is represented as Truth that simply isn't.

One thing I do truly love about this book is how it is literally inundated with beautiful illustrations from line drawings to watercolors, classic artwork including sculpture and tapestry, photography of real places and artifacts, models of buildings like Solomon's Temple, and much more. Every two-page spread has something visually striking to catch your eye and draw the reader in to the material. My non-reading preschooler loves just sitting on the couch, turning the pages one by one, as he admires the artwork and photography, even if I am not reading to him from the pages. It truly is stunning from a visual, artistic perspective, and if you are looking for such a Bible storybook with detailed visual and research aids, this is a great option. While it is important to focus on the inspired Scripture with all ages, it can also be a good idea to teach our children how to supplement their Bible study from a young age. While a non-reader or early-reader may be too young to delve into thick commentaries or other books of theology, this could be an early introduction to such study aids.

Additionally, I must praise the printing and binding of this sturdy book. The hard cover is solid, the thick pages are supple, the vibrant printing is very clear, and the binding is remarkably durable. So far we don't have so much as a ripped page! As far as the physical quality of The Family Illustrated Bible, it has much promise for longevity and durability throughout much love and use, even by younger family members, particularly with supervision.

Due to the fact that this book is, in fact, a paraphrase instead of Scriptures, this is not a book I would be eager to purchase for my family because of our particular emphasis on wanting to focus on the truly inspired Word of God. But for a beautifully illustrated, artistic paraphrase, this book would be well worth the $25 investment to add to your family's library. As long as the parent/teacher is aware of the type of book this actually is--a paraphrase instead of the literal Word of God--I think it is a good product, well produced and attractive for all ages of children.

Product Review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2011