Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: The Action Bible

book cover

The Action Bible:
God's Redemptive Story
Illustrated by Sergio Cariello

Hardback: 752 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: September 2010

The Book Website
(which has sample pages)

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Action Bible presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible's historical flow and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax.

The stories in The Action Bible communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries.

Internationally recognized artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures.

Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world's most awesome story.

The Action Bible is a comic-book style picture Bible for children ages 5-8, though older children will also enjoy it. I'd personally call this book Biblical fiction rather than "a Bible" since extra-Biblical comments, commentary, and historical information was worked into the book's summary of Biblical events. Also, some Biblical events were left out. Sexual content and gore was largely smoothed over (using euphemism or implication) or skipped entirely. While I wouldn't use this book as a replacement for the Bible, I'd certainly recommend this book over children's Bible story books.

I really liked that the events were in chronological order and shown in their historical setting. Several psalms were worked into David's life story and several proverbs into Solomon's story. The prophets gave their (summarized) prophecies during the actual events where they were given, and Paul's (summarized) letters were shown as written when they really were written during his travels. There were even some maps of Paul's missionary travels. Also, the Old Testament flowed into the New Testament through a brief (and clearly marked as not in the Bible) historical summary of the events that happened between the two. So the Bible came across as a continuous historical account of God relating to man with a redemptive plan in action (rather than as disconnected morality tales about heroes of the past).

I was also very impressed by the vivid, detailed illustrations. The illustrator did an excellent job of correctly showing the character's age, ethnicity, and culture. A few things were off (like the picture of Solomon's temple being built on flat land instead of on a hill), but this book was a lot more accurate than other Children's Bibles I've seen.

And, best of all, children really will read this book without prompting by their parents. I'm testing it on two boys (ages 5 & 10). The report for day 1 is that whenever they weren't running around, they were looking at this Bible.

However, like most children's storybooks, the stories in The Action Bible were only "based on" the Bible. The author always indicated "based on Judges 16:1-20" or whatever verses and, overall, did a good job accurately summarizing the Bible accounts. But the author's interpretation is a part of the text. Those highly familiar with the Bible are likely to come across several places where they won't precisely agree with the wording used--or they'll wish that some point that was omitted or implied was more clearly stated. But, again, that's usually true.

As long as parents don't neglect teaching the actual Bible, The Action Bible is an excellent foundational overview of the Bible that children simply aren't getting any other place, including at church. Overall, I'd highly recommend this Action Bible for use with elementary aged children instead of children's story books or as a way to give them a good overview of what's in the Bible.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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