Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Early Readers Bible (New Testament)

The Early Readers Bible: New Testament. V. Gilbert Beers. Illustrated by Terri Steiger. Zonderkidz. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Early Reader's Bible was written specifically for beginning readers who are starting to read on their own. The book has two lists in the back. One list is a basic word list composed of words from standard word lists in public (and private) schools. One list is a new word list composed of words introduced in this bible story book. "No more than five new words are used in any story, and usually a smaller number is used." (At the top corner of every story, new words are introduced.)

The stories from the New Testament edition of the Early Reader's Bible:

  1. Jesus Came to Love Us
  2. Angels Sing to Shepherds
  3. The Wise Men Give Their Best
  4. Jesus' Happy Family
  5. Jesus Pleases God
  6. God's House
  7. What Should I Do In God's House
  8. A Friend Who Was Sick
  9. Doing God's Work
  10. Look What Jesus Can Do
  11. Can A Man Do This?
  12. A Boy Shares His Lunch
  13. Walking on Water
  14. God Talks About His Son
  15. A Man Who Did Not Say Thank You
  16. The Good Shepherd
  17. Jesus and the Children
  18. A Man Who Wanted to See
  19. Finding a Friend
  20. Jesus on a Donkey
  21. Supper with Jesus
  22. The Love of Jesus
  23. Jesus is Alive Again
  24. Telling Others About Jesus
  25. A Man Hears About Jesus
  26. Brighter than the Sun
  27. Singing in Jail
  28. Paul is a Brave Helper
  29. Helping a Friend

From Doing God's Work pp. 69-73
Matthew had good work.
He had all the money he wanted.
And people did what he told them to do.
But Matthew was not happy.
He knew that he did not please God in his work.
One day Jesus came to see Matthew.
"Matthew," Jesus said, "come with me and work for me."
Matthew looked at Jesus.
Jesus would not pay him for his work.
He would not make much money.
People would not do what he said.
He would have to do what Jesus said.
"What should I do?" Matthew asked.
Then Matthew knew.
He would please God if he went with Jesus.
And he would be happy.
So Matthew went with Jesus.
He helped Jesus do God's work.
Then Matthew was very happy.
Each story concludes with "something to ask" and "something to do" features.

The stories are very simple. The focus is more on making stories easy to read and using limited vocabulary than on 100% biblical accuracy. The focus isn't on explaining doctrine or theology…at all. The stories don't do the greatest at explaining the big picture of WHY Jesus came. A key three letter word is missing from the New Testament. That word is SIN. It is easy to read, easy to sound out. And it is one of the most essential doctrines of the whole Bible--both Old and New Testament. Why did Jesus come? To save us, to save us from our sin. Our sin separated us from God. At the cross, Jesus paid for our sins. He took our sins upon himself. He took our punishment. Because of Jesus I don't have to pay for my sins. I am made right with God through faith in Christ. (Also missing are baptism. Not even Jesus' own baptism by John is mentioned. Also the Holy Spirit and pentecost.)

The stories keep it very simple:

  • "This baby has come to love us, and he has come to help us love God" (9). 
  • "Jesus liked to go to God's house. He liked to talk to God there. He liked to be with God's people." (45)
  • "They knew that Jesus did good things for God. They knew that God helped Jesus do these things" (77)
  • "Jesus said many good things." (94) 
  • "God said that Jesus is his Son. Now they knew that Jesus was God's Son." (113)
  • "Jesus said that we are like sheep. We are far away from God. But Jesus came to find us. He loves us. And he helps us find the way to God's home in heaven." (129)
  • "In Jerusalem Jesus told people about God. He told them how to please God. He told them that he would die for them. God had sent Jesus to do these things. This was the work Jesus did for God." (161)
  • "When Jesus died on the cross, he showed how much he loved them. And he showed how much he loves you and me. How much does Jesus love us? He loves us so much that he died so we can come to God." (177)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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