Monday, November 12, 2012

Kregel Tour: Bible Detective

Bible Detective
A Puzzle Search Book by Peter Martin; illustrated by Peter Kent
Imprint: Lion Children's
Price: $14.99
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover

Includes historical scenes from various Old Testament people and events including:
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Slavery in Egypt
  • Moses
  • Joshua
  • David & Goliath
  • King Solomon
  • Assyrian attack
  • Exiles in Babylon
As well as events in the New Testament including Jesus' life/ministry and his disciples' ministries:
  • Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem
  • Jesus' childhood
  • Lake Galilee
  • Temple Courtyard
  • Death of Jesus
  • Peter Preaches
  • Corinth
  • Ceasarea
Things I loved
  • So many search and find books have no substance so it's nice to have one tied to the Bible
  • Inclusion of very interesting historical tidbits and cultural info about agrarian practice and use of tools, as well as information on diet and work responsibilities
  • Excellent visual answer key in full color for when you get stumped (with a helpful explanation on how to navigate each solution)
  • Full color pictures with lots to engage readers of any age
  • Book can be enjoyed by non-readers 
  • Some interesting added elements for older readers to spot (one example is that Judas is holding a bag labelled with the Roman Numeral for thirty and the elemental table designation for Silver)
  • The extra fun of trying to locate a fox in each two page spread
  • Surveys key people and events throughout the entire Bible--a great view of the overall scope of the Bible
  • Nice size for small laps--not the oversized version of some search and finds

Areas for Improvement
  • Eliminate the use of Before Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE) in each picture. I would expect a Bible book to reference time in relation to Jesus Christ with BC and AD.
  • Include a glossary (or in text explanation) of difficult words (examples I ran across were guffa, pitched battles, queue, amphorae)
  • Eliminate slangy references (servant girl is "being told off")
  • Avoid calling attention to less than desirable behavior such as a man and woman sharing a vat of beer (could have been listed as sharing a beverage). Not really an activity for children to take note of.
General Thoughts
In a market flooded with search and finds with TV connections or monster themes, I have to say that Bible Detective is a refreshing alternative. However, there were some disappointments.

The biggest disappointment was the use of the BCE/CE designation for dates. I suspect that in Europe this is the commonly accepted format. In the United States, however, Christians see this designation as an effort to remove historical references to Christ. So in a book titled "Bible Detective,"  the choice was rather surprising. In future US editions, I would strongly suggest the use of BC and AD. 

I also felt there was an attitude of skepticism in the way the narrative was worded. Seemed to treat the Bible as literature instead of historical fact. References in the text such as the "story" of the people of Israel (not the history). Abraham "believed" God was telling him (rather than God told him as a matter of historical fact). 

One notable theological error was on page 12 saying that the disciples "helped Jesus preach his message about what it means to live as friends of God."  That is not the essence of the Gospel and not at all an accurate depiction of Christ's message.  While I don't expect a search and find book to be doctrinally instructive, I certainly do not want it to be doctrinally misleading.  I would caution parents to better explain the mission of Jesus.

You can buy Bible Detective at the following retailers:

Disclaimer: I received Bible Detective free from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed are my own.

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