The Story Bible (Review)

The Story Bible

Teaching our children the Bible is the highest responsibility we have as Christian parents. This teaching involves love, shepherding, discipleship, and modeling, but it never involves less than reading the Scriptures.

Nothing can replace the reading and memorization of the normative English Bible. However, children’s story Bibles can be a helpful supplement for smaller children. The Story Bible (Concordia, 2011) offers two main contributions to this arena.

First, its 130 stories are not dramatically rewritten for children (like The Jesus Storybook Bible). Rather, the text of each story is pared down from the text of the English Standard Version so that children learn actual words and phrasing that they’ll later encounter in their full Bibles. The editors explain: “Because of our desire to present the biblical text faithfully, we sought to follow the biblical text and preserve rich wording and expressions in the Bible stories” (9).

Second, The Story Bible uses realistic illustrations rather than dramatized cartoon images in order to show children that the Bible’s characters and events are historical. Here’s how the editors make their case:

Appearance matters greatly to children. Researchers have found that children judge whether persons and events in visuals are real by how they appear. If a person or event appears unreal in a picture — such as a cartoon — children are likely to conclude that the person or event is unreal (9).

The Story Bible does not explicitly tie together the scriptural story like The Jesus Storybook Bible, though historical periods and large-scale redemptive moves are introduced by brief sections orienting the reader to the upcoming stories. Each story in The Story Bible is short, self-contained, and sounds like you’re reading your own full Bible. It’s necessary (as always) to provide interpretive commentary during or after the reading, especially because (with this version) the text hasn’t been rewritten in a dramatic way. But if God really breathed out this book through skilled messengers, and if this story (including the way it’s written) has always risen above all other books in the history of literature, then we ought to conclude that the way the Bible tells its story is precisely as dramatic as it ought to be.

The Story Bible isn’t the only helpful resource when it comes to children’s story Bibles, but its two main features of textual faithfulness and realistic illustrations indeed make a unique contribution to our ministry of teaching our children the story above all stories.

Thanks to Concordia for providing a free copy for unbiased review.


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