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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"Soaring Through the Bible" (Skip Heitzig)

TITLE: Soaring Through the Bible: A Travel Guide from Genesis to Revelation for Kids
AUTHOR: Skip Heitzig
PUBLISHER: Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2019, (224 pages).

The Bible is one big book to read through. Adults often have trouble even trying to understand what the Bible is saying. Many have spent years studying it and still find it mysterious. It is not easy to read the Bible cover to cover, partly because of its length and many genres. The ancient contexts are not easily understood. Thus, there are many commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and biblical helps for people wanting to know more about the Bible backgrounds. Many of these resources however are not easily translated into a manner suitable for kids. This book helps teachers, parents, and youth leaders in giving a Bible overview to kids. Using the metaphor of flying in an airplane and looking down on earth, author and Bible teacher Skip Heitzig gives us a bird's eye view of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The main idea is this: "the higher up you go into the air and look down, the more you can see of the earth than you can from the ground." Heitzig takes us through a three part framework for every book of the Bible.

  1. Check Your Location (Context)
  2. Plot Your Course (Content)
  3. Enjoy Your Trip (Practice)

The contextual section lists down a brief introduction of the book and highlights the main story of it all. For instance, Genesis focuses on creation and Exodus on the story of the escape of the Israelites from Egypt. Psalms is about songs about God and Job about one going through bad times in life. For the prophets, Heitzig paints a concise picture of the location, the period concerned, and who the prophets were addressing. The same manner was used for the New Testament books in which readers get a very short sketch of the salient points of the book or letter concerned. The briefest of all the sections, the location basically anchors the reader quickly to get a sense of where the book is at and where it is heading toward. Next comes the brief overview of the book itself. The author flies over huge chunks of the book and gives us a summary of the main story.

My Thoughts
The author makes the reading of the Bible enjoyable. Kids would love the simple but interesting presentation which would hopefully whet their appetite for more. It is not easy to choose which parts of the Bible to highlight. Bible teachers often struggle at what parts to emphasize and how to ensure the best contexts are taught without compromising on the essence of the book. At the same time, it is important to remember that the book is also an interpretation of the Bible, or a commentary for kids. It is not meant to replace the actual study of the Bible. Perhaps, it is an expanded coverage of typical Sunday School stories for kids. This book could even be used as some kind of a "Fly over the Bible Books" series where each chapter could be a lesson by itself. The beautiful thing is that this format could be used and re-used for maximum effect. The purpose is not to cover everything the Bible says but to present the Bible in a way that not only encourages the reading of it, it also helps kids to see the relevance of the Bible to everyday life. This is perhaps the most exciting part in this book: to help kids see the Bible not as some story of listen to, but a life guide for behaviour. I like in particular the "Where's the Gospel?" section because it is a chance for readers to see the connection of each book with the gospel.

If there is a weakness, I would say there is a danger of oversimplification of the Bible story. Much content have been sacrificed for clarity and brevity. As long as teachers explain this point, that the Bible is much more than the overview, it would be good. It is also hoped that kids themselves would be intrigued or curious enough to dig deeper into the Bible for themselves.

Hopefully, this book would serve to ignite kids' passion for the Word of God.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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