The Bible for Children: From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present

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For more than five centuries, parents, teachers, and preachers in Europe and America have written and illustrated Bibles especially for children. These children's Bibles vary widely, featuring different stories, various interpretations, and markedly divergent illustrations, despite their common source. How children's Bibles differ, and why, is the subject of this ground-breaking book, the first to recognize children's Bibles as a distinct genre with its own literary, historical, and cultural significance.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This comprehensive analysis of children's bibles, which traces the evolution of the genre from the time it first emerged in Germany with the invention of the printing press, graphically demonstrates that Bible stories for children teach far more than the Bible or biblical content. In fact, such volumes reveal as much or more about the times in which they were compiled and about the moral and social perspectives of their various authors and editors. Social utility joins soul-saving as various generations retell stories, include or omit stories from their collections and emphasize or marginalize portions of stories. Troublesome heroes such as Jael, along with sexual scenes such as David and Bathsheba, pop in and out of children's Bibles as the years pass. Such selective editing is inevitably reinforced by illustrations (Bottigheimer has included 46 examples here). An impressive scholarly achievement, this volume may prove too academic to appeal to the casual or seeking reader, but its content just may prompt the interested reader, the concerned parent and certainly those who teach Bible to children to examine their materials closely for implicit social messages as well as for theological content. (May)
Examines how various sects, nations, and centuries adapted the Bible for children, and argues that underlying the variations is a single and distinct genre with literary, historical, and cultural significance. Particularly finds it almost universal that the Bible stories initially were close to the scriptural text, then troubling passages were revised, and finally a thoroughly amended story emerged. Considers the illustrations as well as the texts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300064889
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Children's Bibles in Context: Devotional and Religious Literature for Children 3
2 Early Models for Children's Bibles: Peter Comestor and the Historia Scholastica and Martin Luther and the Passional 14
3 The Bible for Children in Europe and America: Germany, France, England, the United States, Switzerland, South of the Alps and the Pyrenees, Russia 38
4 The Character of God 59
5 Parents and Children: Abraham and Isaac, David and Absalom, Lot and His Daughters 70
6 The Injunction to Work: Children's Bibles and Class Difference 91
7 The Demon Drink: Noah after the Ark 103
8 Sex and the Fathers: Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, David and Bathsheba, the Rape of Dinah, the Rape and Murder of the Levite's Wife 116
9 Philogyny, Misogyny, and Erasure: Jael and Sisera 142
10 The Tower of Babel 152
11 The Miraculous: Parting the Red Sea and Changing Water into Wine 162
12 The Crucifixion 180
13 Falls from Grace: Adam and Eve in the Garden and Returns to the Canon 197
Epilogue: Bible Stories and Storytelling 217
Appendix 219
Notes 223
Works Cited 277
Index 329
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