Monday, April 27, 2015

The Bible, Sanitized

Sunday in Children’s Church we each colored and cut out seven fat cows and seven skinny cows after reading about Joseph’s stint in prison and his release to interpret Pharaoh’s famine dreams. The previous Sunday we each gave Joseph a psychedelic tie-dyed coat, because I found a square of felt colored like that at Wal-Mart. The Beginner’s Bible, marketed for children six years old and younger, has three chapters about Joseph. I wonder what I’ll find to do next week when Joseph saves his family from famine.

Our church bought multiple copies of the book several months ago, and we’ve been pleased with how well the kids like it. Some of our kids are at the book’s exact reading level and they take turns reading out loud. They are much more attentive than they were when I was telling them a story. I’ve noticed over the months that it’s not just the reading level that’s age appropriate, but also the content, which is just what you’d want with preschool and K kids. 

But I do notice what’s missing from Genesis. I used to tell my Old Testament Tour teenage students, “If Genesis were a movie, your parents wouldn’t let you see it.” (I hoped that would inspire them to do their reading homework.)

There’s a lot of Genesis missing from the Beginner’s Bible, happily rated G.

Abraham and Sarah’s story skips right to Isaac’s birth without the Hagar and Ishmael incident. When twin brother rivals Jacob and Esau reconcile, five of Jacob’s sons are pictured (and a cute little lamb) but the four polygamist moms involved must be camera shy. Joseph goes right to prison when brought to Egypt without serving Potiphar. Because who wants to explain to a four-year-old about MRS. Potiphar? 

Genesis 38—Judah and Tamar?—forget about it!

So on Sunday mornings I protect little children from too much biblical knowledge, while on weekday mornings I attempt to protect much older kids from biblical ignorance. 

I hope I never get mixed up.


  1. We always like that Beginnings Bible, too! The little ones and the big ones are fortunate to have you as a teacher.

  2. Oh, thank you! You're so kind. It's surprising how much more attentive the kids are when they're reading it themselves. I do try to get them to talk about what they're reading, as well. Like point out how angry Joseph's brothers look.

  3. Our family had the earlier version of the Beginnings Bible. I bought it when our second daughter was born. We used it for the third daughter, and now are using it with the oldest daughter's daughters. (That's a lot of girls.)

    I appreciate your point about the sanitization of the Bible for young children. The Bible is overflowing with enough to keep all of us learning and growing no matter what our age. Just another reason to keep studying.

    1. The Beginner's Bible has made teaching the church kids much easier and more consistent. I don't know if any version of it was out in 1979 when I started my family.