Monday, April 18, 2016

Bible Review: Family Devotional Bible

ESV Family Devotional Bible. 2016. Crossway. 1408 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Who's the target audience of the ESV Family Devotional Bible? Primarily Christian parents. If you've got children between the ages of four and ten, I'd imagine this Bible might be a nice fit for you.

Is it for adults to read with children? Or, is it for children to read on their own? 

There is no reason it couldn't be a bit of both. Ideally, I think this is one that parents and children would sit down to read together as a family. Obviously, if your children haven't learned to read yet, the parents will do the reading aloud. But if your children are reading confidently on their own, then there is no reason why parents and children couldn't pass the Bible around and read it together.

What are the features of the Family Devotional Bible?

The translation is the ESV. It is black letter, not red letter for the Words of Christ. It is in paragraph format as opposed to verse-verse-verse. (Where each verse begins a new line.) There are headings and subheadings. It does have a ribbon marker.

It features 130 "gospel-centered" Bible story retellings. Each story, each devotion, is complemented by a color illustration. Each devotional story features one key verse and three questions for the family. Both the stories and the illustrations--the paintings--are copyrighted to Concordia. I know that these are the same stories and illustrations previously found in the ESV Seek and Find Bible published in 2010. There is an index of devotions. There are eight color maps.

Though there are some similarities between the ESV Seek and Find Bible and the ESV Family Devotional Bible, there are some differences as well. This is not publishing 'the same Bible' -- 'the same material' -- under a different name. The illustrations may be the same, but, they've been resized, for example. The stories may be identical, as far as I can tell, but other elements for each devotion have been changed. The key verses on some stories have changed, I believe. The "three key questions" have become "questions for the family" and though the number has remained the same, the questions themselves have been edited, adapted, rewritten.

Another difference is the layout. The font is definitely smaller in the ESV Family Devotional Bible!

Are there book introductions? No. The ESV Seek and Find Bible had book introductions, but, the ESV Family Devotional Bible does not.

I do think the Bible would benefit from having book introductions. I think adults need book introductions. I think book introductions help readers of all ages--adults and children--make sense of the text. In other words, book introductions help place each book within its proper context. It is important to know, for example: when a book was written, who wrote it, whom it was written for, why it was written, where it fits into the big picture of the Bible. One shouldn't assume that adults have all these answers already! Curious kids might want to go beyond the three scripted questions. They might have a lot of questions of their own. Adults might have questions of their own as well. Families could have a "let's find out together" attitude  approaching the Bible.

Are there character profiles? No. The ESV Seek and Find Bible had character profiles, but, the ESV Family Devotional Bible does not.

Is there a dictionary or concordance? No. The ESV Seek and Find Bible had this feature, but, the ESV Family Devotional Bible does not.

The ESV Seek and Find Bible is no longer in print, it is no longer available. But. It's important to distinguish that the goals for these two Bibles were not--are not--the same. The ESV Seek and Find Bible was for children to read on their own. It was almost meant to be a first Bible, a way to transition from a story Bible to the text of a real Bible. A blending of the best of both. The ESV Family Devotional Bible is meant to be read as a family, with adults leading the way.

Is it important for the family to read the Bible together? Yes. I think it is a wonderful idea to both read the Bible devotionally together, and, to also study it together. I think family 'discussion' questions are one way to do this.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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