Books / Reading / Reviews / September 21, 2012

The Best Biblical Theology for Young or Old

Recently I have been re-reading  The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, to my daughters. As we’ve been making our way through it time and again I have been struck by the power of this book to tell the story of scripture, the story of Jesus. Here are a a few thoughts on why this book is so significant. 

  • The subtitle of the book is Every Story Whispers His Name. Sally Lloyd-Jones does a magnificent job of drawing these whispers to the surface in every story as the book makes its way through the entirety of Scripture. They aren’t forced fits either theologically or rhetorically. They fit perfectly into the stories themselves and masterfully draw the mind and heart to Jesus.
  • Lloyd-Jones expression for God’s covenant love – “a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” – is as moving a phrase as you will find in a book and it speaks to the hearts of children and adults alike. Anyone who has known a “stopping, giving up, broken, sometimes and for a bit love” can hold fast to this.
  • Many children’s Bible stories need editing, and I mean content editing, as I read them. They dumb down big truths, gloss over important themes, and generally misrepresent the reality of scripture as both a personal book and revelation of an eternal God. This book does none of the above.
  • There is an ideal balance between making the human characters personable and relateable but not making them the center of the story. Lloyd-Jones masterfully tells of the people and the events while always moving the story toward Jesus. But at no point are the characters hollow or do they feel like mere vehicles. 
  • Somehow Lloyd-Jones has created a work that is enormously fun to read and captures the right mood for every story – some joyous and some somber. This is a literary work, one of those rare representations of a story that feels right. 
  • The illustrations are unique, fun, simple beautiful, and not distracting. There are none of those annoying children’s book elements that so distract the average preschool such as bunnies or kitties by Jesus’ manger.
  • This truly is a book for all ages. Obviously children will benefit from it, but this is curriculum material for college and seminary students who get so caught up in the technicalities of the Bible that they forget these beautiful truths about Jesus. It models a level of scholarship and writing that far surpass many technical theologies I’ve read. It could be read in every room of a church to the benefit of the hearers from the pulpit to the nursery. And it’s fun!. How many theology books can that be said of?  



7 Comments

Sep 21, 2012

Fully agree with all of the above – absolutely love it.

But does anyone feel like me, that it’s a bit short? There are so many parts of Scripture that I’d love to get the JSB take on. Obviously it would be a heap of work – but I’d just be thrilled if she felt able to do a 365-day version.

Not at all trying to be critical or awkward. As I say, I’m so thankful for this book. Maybe I’m just being greedy, but I want more!


    Sep 21, 2012

    I’d say that’s the right way to feel. It means she connected in a much broader way than just “children’s book. Feeling like you want more of a book means it was a great book.


Sep 21, 2012

Our school board and Session approved for me to use JSB as my Bible curriculum in my preschool class….I still cry at the mention of God’s faithfulness in sending a RESCUER for our broken world at the end of every true story. The children in my class are mesmerized as I tell the stories and show the pictures. CHILLL BUMPS!

My only suggestion to SLJ, if I had the opp. to sit down with her, would be to include so many other stories of the OT and NT (Rahab and spies, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, etc). I want more, too!


    Sep 21, 2012

    I hear you. I would love more stories. I think it’s the right length for using with kids, but as a reader I could do with double the stories. I think that means she’s doing it right.


Sep 27, 2012

I fully agree with wanting more stories. We read it to our kids every night as part of our family prayer time, which means we get through it around once a month. My girls have just about memorised it, and use SLJ’s expressions to explain their own relationship with God- they talk about sin as the poison that has sunk deep down into their hearts, and about Jesus as their Rescuer. I love it, and it speaks just as powerfully to adults.


Dec 01, 2012

I agree with your review.
I’ve used this book with my 2nd grade class at a Christian school but most of my students come from non-Christian homes. They love it! It was worried it would be too “babyish” for them. I agree that I could go for more stories but I do like the ones she’s chosen especially the lesser known stories such as Nahum.


Feb 19, 2014

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