Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Bible For Families

Yesterday, I received a new Bible written for families.  It is called the Hands-On Bible (NLT).  My feelings about this Bible are a little complicated.  I love the Bible extras, activities, and comments that are added in.  But, the NLT is not the translation of the Bible I usually choose to read.

I think that often we can choose a Bible by one of two ways:
#1 First, choose the translation, and then #2 choose which publication of that Bible (ie. study bible, large print, children's, etc.)
#1 Choose the Bible you like the most based on the comments and features of that edition, without putting primary importance on which translation it is.

If I were simply choosing a Bible to read as a family, without concern about which translation it is, then I would definitely choose this one.  I really liked the activities and ideas of how to convey different ideas to your kids.  I would say that this Bible is good for families with children ages 5-12.  This is a very contemporary take on how to connect kids to the Bible and more importantly God yet also understand the time in which the people in the Bible lived.

Quick, or maybe not so quick tangent...
Contemporary and modern are two interesting words.  In my last post, I used the phrase "culturally relevant".  Many people want and believe the Bible should be "culturally relevant".  My opinion is that it's okay for the extras to be "modern" or "culturally relevant", but that the Word is the Word.  It is God who does the saving, not us!  Changing a few words in a translation to make it more comfortable for someone to read (like gender neutral language) isn't going to save them.  Eventually, they will get to the hard parts about sin--which you just can't sugar coat.  I realized after I'd written that phrase that I needed to clarify where I stand on on the "cultural relevancy" of some Bible translations.  I get very concerned that we are catering to people and what they want to hear--essentially we are tickling people's ears because we think that then they will make a decision for Christ.  BUT, that is a dangerous line of thinking because it is so easy to get caught thinking it is our efforts and what we do that saves people.  It's not.  It's just not.  It's God's deal and not ours.

Which leads into my thoughts about contemporary language...
I read a review of a book on manners this weekend by someone who gave a book 0 stars because the person said that we're not in the 1950s anymore.  No, it's not the 1950s, but I do want my kids to speak properly and have good manners.  This is one of the little ways that homeschooling affects us as a family. 
Our language at home that we use and read is more like what people consider "proper English".  We don't use a lot of sarcasm or slang at home.  I remember when I was teaching middle school how different the way the kids and teachers spoke was from how I speak at home now with my kids.  

The language in many of the comments and side notes in this Bible that I'm reviewing is very "modern".  Here's an example from one of the things to think about:  "Adam and Eve messed up big time by disobeying.  Then they tried to hide from God.  Duh!"  but later in the same note... "God didn't need fingerprints to bust Adam and Eve.  God sees everything.  But God wants to forgive us--that's why he sent Jesus.  When we believe in jesus and tell God we're sorry, he'll wash away our sins!"  from p. 7 Hands-On Bible (NLT).

On one hand, I like the simplicity of the explanation--it's great for kids!  But, on the other hand, we just don't talk like that.  We don't say "Duh!" and I suppose that in our family we just aren't as casual about how we talk about the Bible.

But, that same note had a great, quick activity in which kids put their fingerprints on a white piece of paper.  There's a great comment about how our fingerprints are on everything.  Eventhough they can't be seen, they are there.  (paraphrase from pg. 7) and then it leads into the second part of the comment I quoted above.  I think it's an awesome connection for kids!  It's an easy way to do an activity with them and make an impression on them to help them understand about Adam and Eve.  There are so many simple activities in this Bible like this one and that's why I do like it a lot!

This Bible is one of those books that I think would be wonderful for a lot of families.  I think you'd really enjoy it and get a lot out of the extras--they would help build memories and start discussions.  If you're looking for a Bible to give a family with new believers or with young children as an outreach, I think this is a great Bible to give!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from Tyndale Publishing for review.

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