Out of sincere efforts to honor the second commandment, some Christians avoid the use of visible images to portray or represent God or any of the persons in the Trinity. 2C represents the second commandment in the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments. For this reason, all the Bible storybooks that are featured in this post do not contain images of Christ.
If you would like to find out more why I have compiled this list, kindly read Part 1 in this series where I provide the reasons and the resources in my attempts to honor the second commandments in this manner.
2C-Compliant Story Bibles
For the benefit of uniformity, I have featured how each story Bible presents the Gospel account found in Matthew 13:32-39:
32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. (ESV)
Follow Me: Bible Stories for Young Children
by Liesbeth van Binsbergen
Originally written in Dutch as Volg Mij, Liesbeth van Binsbergen’s Follow Me: Bible Stories for Young Children was recently translated into English by Rev. Bartel Elshout, who is also the translator of The Christian’s Reasonable Service by Wilhelmus à Brakel. In the Preface, the author writes the objective of her book:
This book consists of a large number of Bible stories written in the language of a child. These stories communicate the history of the Bible’s story that continues until today, and until the end of the world. My objective has not been to be exhaustive. In selecting these stories, I have attempted to highlight the scarlet thread of God’s redemptive history.
Follow Me contains 116 stories with big and bold classic illustrations for each chapter. Although the original intent was to showcase the redemptive historical nature of the Bible, it does not directly spell out how each Old Testament account points to the person and work of Jesus as it is explicitly done in some storybook Bibles like The Child’s Story Bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible. This is understandable because the author’s attempt was to “remain true to the text of the Bible as possible.” In fact, each chapter features a Bible reference and it even includes appendices of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Priestly Benediction as recorded in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Scripture quotations all throughout the book are also in the KJV, which may take a little getting used to when you are more acquainted with other more dynamic translations.
What I love most about this storybook Bible are the discussion questions featured at the end of each chapter to help parents or teachers interact with their children. It includes mostly three, sometimes two, questions to help readers observe and recall the key events, interpret an important part of the story, or direct them on how to apply God’s Word in their own lives. It is also quite hefty for a story Bible (3.8 pounds!), and might need extra care as the cover of the spine could easily unravel with mishandling.
While the stories in Follow Me are more fitted to suit children ages 6 to 8, tots and preschool-aged children can develop good habits in listening to the stories as they are also trained to listen to actual Scripture and preaching during Lord’s Day worship. In fact, Pastor Elshout commends this storybook Bible by saying that it “offers a combination of great storytelling and personal application, and is ideally suited for conducting family worship with young children.”
|Follow Me: Bible Stories for Young Children
By Liesbeth Van Binsbergen / Reformation Heritage Books
The Child’s Story Bible
by Catherine Vos
Catherine Vos was married to the Princeton theologian and author of the renowned Biblical Theology, Dr. Geerardhus Vos. In an autobiography of her husband, Danny E. Olinger in Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian writes, “Catherine read Scripture with a running commentary (which would in time become the basis of her book, The Child’s Story Bible), and then Geerardhus prayed.” Marianne Catherine Vos Radius recounts in the “Preface to the Revised Edition” how her mother began writing:
These stories have a family history. They were first told by my grandmother to my mother when she was a little girl. Later my mother told them to me, as I was to tell them to my daughter. I hope that someday she will tell them to her children.
When my brothers and I grew old enough to want to read the Bible stories for ourselves, my mother searched through the bookstore for a Bible storybook which would be faithful to the inspired Word of God and successful in conveying the dramatic excitement and human warmth of these most wonderful of all stories. When she finally despaired of ever finding such a book, she sat down with the single determination to write one.
Catherine became ill when the first volume of The Child’s Story Bible was published by Eerdmans back in November of 1934. Volumes 2 and 3 were later released in October of 1935 and 1936, respectively. Overall, The Child’s Story Bible stands the test of time for these reasons:
The Child’s Story Bible is different from many children study Bibles in that it goes far beyond just treating a few of the major characters in the Bible. Catherine Vos’s book treats 110 stories from the Old Testament and 92 stories from the New Testament. In every way, children are pointed to the gospel and the Redeemer of the gospel.
Although The Child’s Story Bible does not include a lot of illustrations, Catherine’s manner of writing captures the child’s attention and imagination, which is why this storybook set has become a staple in many Reformed homes for decades even up to this day. It is a delightful read even for parents and grandparents alike.
The Child’s Story Bible is best for children ages 7 to 10 to read for themselves, but it can also used as a read aloud for a much younger audience. The one volume revised edition (1966) has been updated by her daughter Marianne Radius “to conform more closely to our modern idiom, and to incorporate many archaeological discoveries of the past thirty years which have been corroborated and confirmed the Biblical account.” The first volume of the softcover Banner of Trust edition featured in this post seem to be out of print. The later hardcover edition by Eerdmans is easily available. But it does contain images of Christ, although they are few enough to cover.
|The Child’s Story Bible
By Catherine F. Vos / Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Originally published in 1935, this beloved Bible storybook is still a favorite with today’s children, parents, and teachers (including Ruth Bell Graham). More than 200 stories from the Old and New Testaments are retold in simple language appropriate for 4- to 12-year-olds, while remaining faithful to Scripture. Also, the colorful illustrations enhance the text.
The Tent of God and God With Us
By Marianne Vos Radius
I think Marianne Radius is the best writer in the family. She is the daughter of Dr. Geerhardus Vos, professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Seminary for 40 years, and of Catherine Vos, author of the bestselling Child’s Story Bible, which I’ve mentioned just before this.
She is a beautiful writer, having grown up hearing her mother’s stories. And no doubt she has been armed with the skill that is honed and helped by her father. In an article in the Ordained Servant, Danny E. Olinger tells of the influence the Princeton theologian had on her book, The Tent of God: A Journey through the Old Testament,
Vos was no longer writing theology, but he did help give his daughter feedback as she worked on the chapters that would eventually become the basis of her book, The Tent of God.
She said, “By that time, I was working on Sunday School lessons. He was always ready to answer questions and explain difficult doctrines.”
In the preface to The Tent of God, she writes:
If I were not afraid of frightening my readers away by so formidable a term, I might call this an Old Testament biblical theology for young readers. For I have tried to show both the gradual unfolding of God’s revelation of Himself and the awakening religious understanding of God’s people. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But God’s people are always on a journey, both individually and as a body. We grow from babes in Christ to spiritual maturity though our progress sometimes seems to be a slipping back one step for every two we stumble forward. And the people of God as a whole learn through history, as God gradually unfolds before their eyes His cosmic plan of redemption.
Radius writes in a way that does not underestimate the child. She engages and converses with the hearer with her delicate words, and it is very much felt in the heart. I learn so much whenever I read a chapter from her books.
The Tent of God: A Journey through the Old Testament covers stories from the Old Testament, while the God With Us: A Life of Jesus for Young Readers are stories taken from the New Testament.
I would highly recommended this storybook Bible read aloud for everyone in the family, if you can still find a copy from used bookstores as it is currently out of print.
365 Great Bible Stories: The Good News of Jesus From Genesis to Revelation
By Carine Mackenzie
365 Great Bible Stories is the 150th book written by prolific children’s author, Carine Mackenzie, who is based in Inverness in Scotland. Each story is meant to be read for each day of the year and is short enough to be read aloud to small children ages 3 to 5 years old.
Even though it provides themes and topics to choose from, I wish the storytelling were a bit more engaging. The stories were rather informational more than it was dramatic. Oftentimes, it failed to grab my attention. Nevertheless, it is an admirable attempt at a condensed summary for several Bible stories.
|365 Great Bible Stories
By Carine Mackenzie / Christian Focus
With 365 Bible stories, there’s a Bible story to read every day! Perfect for bedtime or anytime, this collection is an excellent way to introduce young children to the most special friend that they can have-Jesus Christ.
Read Aloud Bible Stories
by Ella K. Lindvall
Read-Aloud Bible Stories is perhaps the best series for smaller children. Each page features big texts with only a few words that are beautified with simple yet appealing illustrations by H. Kent Puckett for littlest ones in the family. Some drawings display creative ways of honoring the second commandment, like showing only the hands of Jesus or the back of his head, but never his face.
At the end of each page, the closing lesson left me wanting for more. Oftentimes, the storytelling seemed to strive for literacy more than Gospel knowledge. Perhaps that was the author’s intent. If it was, this book is successful in that it provides a lot of repetition and offers many familiar words that younger minds are regularly exposed to. But it is not enough to give the grand drama of redemptive history that centers on Jesus. It quite simply does not endeavor to do that at all. I would still commend it, but only as a supplement to other more robust content provided by other choices in this post.
There are five volumes in this series. But I only managed to own and read through the first two, so I cannot say the same for the rest of the volumes.
|Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Volume 1 – Slightly Imperfect
By Moody Publishers
|Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Volume 2
By Ella K. Lindvall / Moody Publishers
Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall is a Gold Medallion Book Award winner, and for good reason! This books simplifies the stories of the Bible enough to captivate even the youngest of readers and includes a series of application questions. Volume 2 is illustrated by Ken Renczenski; Illustrations are large, simple and colorful! Table of Contents Simon and His Boat The Boy Who Went Away The Boy Who Shared His Lunch The Man Who Helped A Sad Day and a Happy Day
The Story of God’s Love For You
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Jesus Storybook Bible is a worldwide bestseller and has been translated to numerous languages. There is no doubt the literary style is top-notch as it is masterfully written by veteran children’s book writer, Sally Lloyd-Jones. This modern children’s classic has introduced thousands of families to the centrality of Christ in all of Scripture undergirded by its memorable tagline, “Every story whispers his name.” The illustrations by the talented Jago ladened throughout the story Bible are wonderfully attractive. But for those who seek to honor the second commandment find that it is all too much to handle. Recent controversies surrounding the author’s other book seemed to show a nod to homosexuality, which has allowed numerous Christian to make the sobering move of dismissing the book altogether.
Publisher Zondervan later rebranded the storybook Bible for adults and other audiences who may not be too attracted to read from a heavily illustrated storybook Bible. The Story of God’s Love For You is actually all the content of the Bible storybook without any of the illustrations. It is more poetic or stylistic than it is meant to be a literal translation or interpretation of the original text of Scripture. While I understand the sentiments for not commending the Jesus Storybook Bible, I think The Story of God’s Love For You has a place in the library.
For all its faults—the choice of words are sometimes hyperbolic and theologically inaccurate—Sally Lloyd-Jones has taught many families that the Bible is not a collection of unrelated stories, but tells of one big story about Jesus:
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doin. It’s about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they’re downright mean. No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne–everything–to rescues the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is–it’s true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling on Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle–the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture
|The Story of God’s Love for You
By Sally Lloyd-Jones / Zondervan
In the bestselling Jesus Storybook Bible, author Sally Lloyd-Jones explored the connections and wonders throughout the Bible to show children how one giant love for humanity pointed to one small baby who would grow up to be the one perfect person who would make things right again for everyone. But that amazing story isn’t just for kids. Now, in The Story of God’s Love for You, the same award-winning, theologically rich and sophisticated content of The Jesus Storybook Bible is in a format that’s perfect for teens and adults who want a version just for themselves. With a stylish 2-color interior design and composite artwork from Jago, this edition is perfect for study, daily inspiration, or a gift.
NOTE ABOUT AFFILIATE LINKS
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