Accessible, compelling text that speaks to today's children, from a foremost reteller of the Bible The Bible for Children contains more than 200 Bible stories, retold by playwright and filmmaker Murray Watts and elegantly illustrated by beloved artist Helen Cann. The stories comprehensively cover key themes of the Bible; they are faithful to the meaning and spirit of the original Scripture. The imaginative style reflects the variety of the biblical text—riveting stories, reporting, poetry, history, letters. The Bible for Children is a visual delight, filled with illustrations that add meaning to the stories. The rich color and the exquisitely drawn faces and settings draw readers into the emotion and power of all that happens. This book for 7-12 year-olds has the design and drama of a modern classic.
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Murray Watts combines expert Bible knowledge with skillful storytelling to successfully reach today's children. Helen Cann is the illustrator of Baboushka, A Child’s Book of Celtic Prayers, Prayers from the Bible, and Who Laid the Cornerstone of the World.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
An introduction marks the beginning of a journey for the reader, but the end of one for the writer. This is the last page to be written and, for me, the hardest of all. How can I describe the joys, fears, challenges and surprises of such an exhilarating journey? I can only hope that some of this experience will shine through my retelling of these great stories. Writing this book has been an adventure for me, and I hope it will be the same for anyone who reads it.
I have frequently been moved by the struggles and failures of the characters in these stories, as well as by the many heartwarming examples of courage and nobility. The men, women and children of the Bible are so like us, and the themes of the Bible do not become dated. This is a love story: the moving tale of God's love for the world in all its wonder and all its brokenness. It is full of beauty and hope, but it is also very realistic about people and the consequences of their actions.
The Bible is not simply one book but a library of great works, written over hundreds of years, recording the experiences of many different personalities and their times. In The Bible for Children, I have tried to reflect the magnificent breadth of this material, expressed in a rich variety of history, story and song. In my view, there is no need to limit younger readers to a cautiously edited and sentimental version. They will bring their own insights, questions and responses to these narratives.
This retelling also shows how people's knowledge of God deepened and developed over centuries - there is a vast difference between the harsh and sometimes warlike world of some books of the Old Testament and the love and forgiveness we see in the life of Jesus, many generations later. However, there is a strong sense of continuity throughout the Bible and a profound unity, which has influenced my retelling.
I was very fortunate in having parents who valued the Bible, taught me to love its stories and also encouraged me to learn from them. I hope that a new generation of children will be given the same privilege through parents, friends or family members who will share with them this treasure-trove of adventure, high drama, tragedy, joy and love.
Genesis 1, 2
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and empty, darkness lay over the deep oceans, and God's Spirit was moving over the surface of the waters.
Then God spoke: "Let there be light!" And there was light. God saw that the light was good. He divided the light from the darkness. And so God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and morning, the very first day.
And God said, "Let there be a space above the oceans, to separate the heavens from the earth." And it was so, and God named this space Sky. There was evening and morning again, and that was the second day.
And God said, "Let dry ground appear from the deep waters." And it was so. God named the dry ground Land and the waters he named Seas. God looked at what he had made and saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let the land produce plants and crops and fruit trees of every kind." And it was so. There was evening and morning, and that was the third day.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the sky to divide the day from the night, marking the days, the seasons and the turning of the years, and let the lights shine down on the earth." And it was so. God made the sun to shine in the day and the moon to shine at night. Then God made the stars. And God saw that all that he had made was good. So evening and morning came again, and that was the fourth day.
God said, "Let the waters breed life and swarm with living creatures, and let birds wing their way through the sky." So God created the huge sea-creatures and every living being that glides through the waters and all species of fish, and he made every kind of bird that flies through the air. And God saw that all that he had made was good. He blessed the creatures and said, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the seas, fill the air!" So evening and morning came again, and that was the fifth day.
And God said, "Let the earth produce every type of animal, all species of living creatures, cattle and reptiles and wild beasts of every kind." And it was so. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "I shall make human beings in my image, in my own likeness. Let them rule the animal kingdom and be responsible for the whole earth."
So God created human beings. He made them in his own image, creating both male and female.
God blessed the human race and said, "Fill the earth with your descendants and look after everything I have created."
And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. So evening and morning came again, and that was the sixth day.
In this way, the heavens and the earth were completed in all their magnificence.
By the seventh day, God had finished all his work of creation, so he rested on that day. He blessed the seventh day, because it was the special day of his rest.
Shepherds and Angels
That night, there were shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem, guarding their sheep. They were sitting beside their fire, keeping warm and watching the flames crackle and spit into the darkness. There was no danger - no wild beasts prowling or thieves breaking into the sheepfold; there was only the roar of the fire and the smoke curling up to the stars.
They were chatting softly, making jokes, telling stories, when suddenly a great light flashed from the sky. The shepherds leaped up, terrified. They wanted to run, but there was light all around them -- above them, behind them. The whole sky was burning, and the earth was on fire with glory and wonder. An angel towered over them, and they fell to the ground in fear. "Don't be afraid! I've come bringing good news for you and for everyone in the world."
The shepherds looked up slowly, peering through their fingers as the angel continued: "Today in the town of David, a saviour has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord, and here is the sign that this is true: you will find a little baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger!"
At that moment, the bright figure was joined by a great company of angels from heaven, thousands of them filling the sky and singing: "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to all those he loves!"
Earth and heaven shook with sound, thundering music echoed in the hills and rang from every stone until at last the glory faded, and the singing drifted away like smoke into the night air.
The shepherds were alone. They scrambled up nervously. "We'd better go to Bethlehem and see all this for ourselves," they said.
And so they ran to Bethlehem and went from house to house, inn to inn, until they found the stable.
Inside, they gathered around, their scruffy faces staring from the darkness into the lamplight that shone over the little family: Mary sitting calmly, almost as if she expected them; Joseph standing up, wondering who it was at this time of night; and the baby lying in the hay and gazing at them so clearly.
The shepherds told Mary and Joseph everything they had seen and heard, and Mary kept the wonderful words of the angel in her heart, like treasures, stored up forever.
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