I was excited to receive a copy of The Promises of God (2019, B & H Kids) mainly to see how my five-year-old son would like it. Illustrated by Thanos Tsilis and authored by Jennifer Lyell, I find that this children’s Bible fills a gap between the ultra-watered down cartoonish children’s Bibles that can be condescending to children, and the popular graphic novels which can be too much to handle for young children. I personally appreciate that the author does not skirt around many issues that other children’s Bibles might (such as the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart), though I imagine that other parents might be less enthusiastic about this aspect.
The book at hand is not only visually captivating but also includes great theology; I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s presentation of the Edenic account, as well as how the author dealt with the apostle Paul. I confess that once in a while I get bored with my Bible. When that happens, I turn to comic Bibles or the audio Bible, or something like the four Gospel movies released by Netflix (in which Selva Rasalingam plays Jesus). We all learn at different rates, and some people need visuals more than others. The Promises of God is a great resource with stunning visuals. It would be a great gift for teens or young adults, or for those who need visuals such as myself.
As noted already, I appreciate that the author does not water down or avoid some hard passages. The visuals are what I think make this children’s book stand out, with the artist avoiding the cartoonish style that is quite common in some children’s Bibles. Of course, I need to be clear: those children’s books have their place!
I will say that this is not a perfect children’s book. There are places where I seriously disagree with the author’s interpretation, especially her Calvinistic leanings. At one point the author talks about the woman with the bleeding problem, asserting that because Jesus was God, he always knew exactly who was around him (even in the pressing crowds). This is an assumption, and while it’s important for Christians to affirm the divinity of Jesus, I feel that such a statement goes too far and can be in danger of sacrificing the humanity of Jesus. Jesus, in his humanity, depended on the Father and the Spirit (=Jesus was not a superhuman).
What shines in this book are the illustrations, vivid and detailed and certainly less candy-coated than our children may be used to, as well as the creativeness of the author. My issues with this great storybook are its Calvinistic leanings as well as the general wordiness of the storybook. Otherwise, it’s a great storybook which my son loves. Thanks, B & H, for the complimentary copy!