Book Review:The Big Picture Story Bible

big-picture-story-bible2David Helm, Illus. by Gail Schoonmaker. The Big Picture Story Bible. Wheaton, Il.: Crossway, 2004. 440 pages.

Do you remember the first time you heard the story of Jonah? of David and Goliath? of Samson? What about God’s Story? A wise man has said, “History is His Story.” The same goes for the narrative portions of the Bible. The stories of the Scriptures join together to form the one Great Story–a story that begins with Creation and ends with a re-created earth and a redeemed people.

I don’t remember hearing God’s Story very often as a child. Sure, I heard about Joseph and Moses and Paul and Peter, but you would have thought that these men were the main characters in a series of miniature novels, all conveniently compiled in a leatherbound special edition called the Bible. It just wasn’t emphasized that the Bible is one continuous Story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration–God’s Great Story.

While it’s not necessarily a problem to encourage youngsters to be brave like David or to pray like Daniel, habitually framing the stories of the Bible in this way can give children the impression that the Scriptures are a collection of loosely related moralistic fables (albeit true ones). What’s worse, they may learn to overlook what God has been doing throughout history and in the world today.

I don’t want my children to miss that. In fact, the broad story line of the Bible forms the prologue and epilogue to the Greatest Story Ever Told, that of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin and the free offer of salvation that comes as a result. Telling God’s Story lays the foundation upon which Gospel truth is built.

That’s why my wife and I read a chapter from The Big Picture Story Bible to our daughter every night before she goes to bed. I know she doesn’t quite understand everything (she’s only one-and-a-half), but for five minutes (or thereabouts), she sits staring at the lively illustrations as she hears the Great Story from the mouths of her parents.

Unlike many story Bibles (these aren’t really Bibles per se; they’re more like selected summaries of major portions of Bible narrative), The Big Picture Story Bible reads like a single story, with God as the main character. The result is that from page one, God and the Gospel dominate the discussion. For instance, what Bible storybook highlights the meaning of Genesis 3:15 (God to Satan: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” italics added)? It seems like a peripheral detail if you look at the narrative as a story about Adam and Eve–plus it’s kind of cryptic. But in the Big Picture Story Bible, since the focus is on God’s one Story, this verse is immensely important:

God punished [Adam and Eve] because they disobeyed God’s word, which was meant to rule over his place and his people.

Did you know that some good news came on this sad day too?

God gave Adam and Eve a hint that he would not always be angry with them.

God promised that one day someone would come and crush Satan’s power over people.

But that day was a long way off. On this very sad day, God made Adam and Eve leave the garden. (pp. 46-49)

Just like God did with Adam and Eve, The Big Picture Story Bible hints at the coming Redeemer from the very first moments after the Fall of man.

Here are some random thoughts designed to get you to purchase this wonderful book and enjoy it with your children:

  • The focus is on God’s one great Story, the story that climaxes in the cross, instead of organizing the narrative into unrelated stories.
  • The Gospel leaps out of every chapter.
  • You will find yourself saying, “Hmm, I never thought of it that way before.” Then you’ll worship God for His great and gracious redemption.
  • The pictures are beautiful.
  • The doctrine is actually correct (something of a novelty if you are familiar with many story Bibles).
  • Doctrinally rich enough for you and your older children, yet simple enough to hold the attention of a toddler (my daughter was approx. 8 months old when we started reading it to her).
  • Each chapter takes about 5 minutes to read.

Few things can be as beneficial to your family as cultivating the habit of family devotions. With The Big Picture Story Bible, you can start when your kids are just babies. Teach your children God’s Story–lay a foundation for their understanding of the Gospel that will serve them well as they grow up in your home.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. […] the outset, this review is going to take a slightly different tack from the previous two (here and here), so I humbly ask that you at least skim the whole article. You are probably vaguely familiar with […]

  3. […] never been incredibly faithful to leading your family in family devotions begin this summer. Here’s a helpful recommendation for family devotions if you have children. Second, provide for growth […]

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