Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review: The Jesus Book by Stephen Elkins

(This review is for youth workers with children or for those who work with the children's ministry. This book would make a great addition to the little kid classrooms, especially as a resource for the teachers to use when talking about Jesus.)

The Jesus Book by Stephen Elkins is a combination Bible concordance, Bible dictionary and theology primer. But when you see all of the colorful, fun illustrations throughout the book, you know it must be a book for kids. There is also a 30 song CD with over an hour of music - all about Jesus. Inside the book is packed with some great beginner information about Jesus for young children: who Jesus is, what Jesus did, what Jesus taught, when it happened, where it happened, why it happened and how it happened.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of most of the book, it does a good job at sharing complex themes in simple, kid-friendly terms. Since it is a book about Jesus, it is appropriate that the first section discusses a few of the major descriptions of Jesus: Promised One, Son of God, Savior, Word, and friend. Kids will also learn about some of the great things Jesus did and taught. Beyond these basics, the sections on when and where are superb additions. Before looking at some of the "when," the kids are shown a four-page timeline of events surrounding Jesus. And before the "where" section, the kids are shown a map of Israel and a map of Jerusalem. These maps will help any child better understand the geography of Jesus' life and ministry.

The last two sections are the "why" and "how." The "why" section answers a few basic questions about Jesus' life. But it is the "how" section I thought was a stretch. The section is entitled "how it happened," but it is really four brief pages on present events, not events of Jesus' life. Taking this criticism aside, the only other problem I have with The Jesus Book is the way it handles explaining salvation to kids. A few places (He taught about baptism and How do we receive eternal life?) merely mention that salvation is received through a simple prayer. I believe the Bible teaches there is more to salvation and I believe baptism is part of that process, not an outward sign.

The Jesus Book is a very good introduction for children into the complex and life-changing world of Jesus Christ.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)

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