Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: The Biggest Story

The Biggest Story. Kevin DeYoung. Illustrated by Don Clark. 2015. Crossway. 132 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the planet. True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy. Their names were Adam and Eve, and God made them. He made them in his image, little mirrors to reflect God's glory. And like everything else God made, he made them good.

The Biggest Story is a bible story book for believers of all ages. Yes, you might think that a bible story book would have to be for children and ONLY for children. But I'm not convinced. Especially when you pair the text with illustrations like these. (I'd classify the illustrations as sophisticated and abstract. Please visit Kevin DeYoung's post on his book to see interior spreads of the illustrations AND also to see a video.) No, I think this is a book for readers of all ages. One reason is that everyone needs to know the Bible, that the Bible tells one BIG story, and the Bible really fits together well. It is not a mishmash of random stories and lists. The Biggest Story is a clear presentation of the bible's gospel message. How we were created in God's image. How humans sinned and became separated from God. Why the law was given, and, yet, how we could never keep all of the law. Why we needed a Savior who was both God and man. Just to get started by mentioning a few basics! (I do get excited when I start thinking about the gospel.) I think readers--believers and unbelievers--could use a little clarity as to what it is Christians believe.

But, of course, it is a bible story book made up of various bible stories: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Saul, David, etc. They are all touched upon--some more briefly than others. But the narrative has a fast pace, it flows really well. DeYoung takes you through both testaments quite quickly!

I liked the writing style. I did.
God gave the Israelites rules (but they didn't follow them).
God made his dwelling among them (but they didn't act like they wanted him to stick around).
God sent prophets (but Israel didn't listen).
God provided priests (but the priests didn't know how to be holy).
Later, God gave them kings (but the kings were a royal pain).
Israel was a mess.
Of course, God still had his promises to keep. But most days it was hard to imagine how anyone could save this stubborn people.
It would have been even harder to imagine how the Promised Man could come from among this people. (77)
After all these downs--and not too many ups--we come to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. This is where we meet the new Adam, the child of Abraham, the Son of David. It's with the stinky shepherds and the singing angels where we see the real Deliverer, the real Judge, the real Conqueror. No one understood it completely at the time, but when Mary pushed out that baby, God pushed into the world the long-expected Prophet, Priest, and King. God gave his people a new law, a new temple, and a new sacrifice. Best of all, he gave his people a new beginning. Just as he promised. (101)
It's a familiar story to some of us. It's a true story for all of us. But we haven't seen the end of the story--not yet. We live in the beginning of the end of the story that we are still in the middle of. We know it's not the end because we haven't made it back to the garden. (120)
In the author's note, Kevin DeYoung mentions that The Biggest Story started as a Christmas sermon. I found this a fascinating afterthought as a reader. I was getting ready to recommend this one for families to use during the advent season, and, I learn that it was originally preached during Advent!!!

Did I like the illustrations? Honestly, the abstract-ness of the art lost me. I think it is Art, no doubt. But not the cozy-happy illustrations I'm used to seeing in children's books. That's why I think, in part, that adults may be a good match for this one. Also, I couldn't help but get Sesame Street's Pinball Number Count stuck in my head!!! I do love, love, LOVE the cover though. To me, it just says CHRISTMAS. And the endpapers say ORNAMENTS.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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