Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible - by Marty Machowski

From the back cover:

Can a bedtime story change a life?  It is easy to forget Jesus in the midst of busy schedules and conflicting priorities, but the truth is that he is the only one who can change the lives of parents and children. As you share these Bible stories together, you and your family will meet Jesus and learn together a new, life-changing way of recognizing him as the hero of every story. Based on the ESV Bible, this unique, illustrated Bible storybook uses 156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation.

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A number of years ago I stumbled across a book by Geraldine McCaughrean called The Jesse Tree.  I’ve enjoyed reading this lovely illustrated storybook to my children during the Advent Season, as it traces the multi-chapter tale of Christmas, all the way back to the Genesis story.  The incredible purpose of Emmanuel, “God with us” did not just begin in a stable. He has been a part of the great story from before the beginning.  Marty Machowski’s The Gospel Story Bible is similar in that it covers over 150 stories from the Bible and links them to Jesus and the Good News that He brings us in the Gospel.

The Gospel Story Bible is a marvelous work.  Printed on glossy, durable paper, these brightly illustrated pages bring wonderful points of focus to stories that many of us know very well (e.g., the story of Joseph in Genesis) and other moments that may have been neglected during our youthful Sunday School years (e.g., the exiles returning in the book of Ezra). Author Marty Machowski writes from the perspective of the ESV Bible, a recent translation that is widely respected for its accuracy and readability. Through his knowledge of God’s Word, he links together many well-known as well as somewhat obscure episodes, showing how the Gospel has been at work from before the beginning and throughout all of Biblical history, not just after the birth of Christ.

Each devotional reading is one or two pages long and includes just a few discussion questions to solidify the lesson for those participating in the reading.  I found Machowski’s writing to be respectful of the material, yet not overly scholarly in its tone.  My 11 year-old was able to follow along with the stories without difficulty.  The style is not suited for the very young, however. As the minutes ticked by, my six year-old’s eyes began to glaze over, and I had to go back and explain a few things to him.  The stories are still a great launching pad for discussion for any age, however. Linking Jesus into every corner of God’s word is so important, and this resource does it quite well.

While the illustrations are bright, colorful and clearly the work of a talented artist, I didn’t care for their structure and style.  They’re very modern in tone, and frequently my younger son had a hard time understanding what was being portrayed in the images.  I don’t think the style needs to be scaled back so much that it appeals only to preschoolers, but with so many stories, A.E. Macha’s images could stand to be just a bit more accessible.

On the whole I was very impressed with The Gospel Story Bible. It’s suitable for families with middle grade and young adult children, and adults can certainly appreciate the themes presented in the chapters. There are many who may never have considered integrating Jesus into stories that don't formally mention him.  But as the God’s Word tells us, He was there from before the beginning.  I applaud the work that has been done with this devotional, as there is hardly a more important message that can be conveyed to the world.

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Click below to enjoy a preview of this marvelous project:

For more information on The Gospel Story Bible and related materials, visit

Review copy provided by:

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