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What is it?
A full text children's bible, in other words not a 'story bible' but a simple translation of all 66 books. It is aimed at 6 to 12 year olds but in my experience 12 year olds are getting a little old for this particular edition, although the translation has been reprinted in youth editions which would be more suitable.
A bit of background on translations
For the uninitiated there is a lot of debate over how to translate any language and the original languages of the bible (Hebrew and Greek with a little Aramaic) is not different. If you imagine it as a sliding scale. On one extreme is the literal word for word translation which aims to represent exactly what the text originally said and leave the reader to interpret. Of course words don't have exactly parallel meanings in each language and the translator still needs to make a choice.
On the other extreme are the translations which seek to translate the meaning first, after all translating a phrase such as 'fit as a fiddle' word for word would be very hard to understand and would not render it 'reader friendly'. This extends all the way to something like the Message which is essentially a paraphrase.
Of course as in all these things there is a middle ground seeking to be as literal in as much as possible and taking the meaning where necessary.
Since King James authorized the publication of what was mostly William Tyndale's translation of the Latin Vulgate (which became the Authorised Version or King James) many other versions have sprung up particularly in the last century. Authentic Media published this one in 1991 using translators who have worked on the NIV, the New King James and the New American Standard Bible.
What about the International Children's Bible (ICB)?
This bible is a direct translation from the original sources unlike many other children's translations which simplify an existing version. They state that 'One of the reasons for producing this bible was to make the language easy enough for children to read and understand.' Therefore idioms have been translated, their example is; instead of 'he rested with his fathers' they have 'he died'.
Some may object to this but it seems evidently sensible that as soon as child can read this book is not made harder to comprehend than it need be.
Of course it is also a useful translation for non-reading adults although this would not be the best edition to buy.
How good is the translation?
In my opinion it is fairly reliable. I have smattering of Hebrew and Greek and I use this translation week in week out in my work and on the whole it is a faithful and readable edition. There are of course times where for simplicity's sake they have lost to much of the nuance for my liking.
Take for example Romans 5:18 which in a more literal version (the English Standard Version) says 'Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification for all men.' This is loaded with meaning but hard to understand. The ICB translates it, 'So one sin of Adam brought the punishment of death to all people. But in the same way, one good act that Christ did makes all people right with God. And that brings true life for all.'
Much easier to understand and read but loses much of the depth. However, in comparison to the Good News Bible, which we were using before, it has far fewer places where I think it misses the point.
The text layout is on two columns per page and although they claim it has large print it still seems relatively small. In this sense it follows standard adult bible layout
It has 7 simple maps in the back which help the reader find where places were.
It has 25 full colour illustrations spaced on separate pages throughout the edition. These are nice, bright and realistic but are perhaps a little dated now (it was published in 1991) and has been superseded by a newer edition with a couple of terrible cartoon characters.
It has a helpful dictionary where regular difficult words (such as Gentile or heir) is explained in the back. Each word included has a small superscript 'd' next to the word to inform you that its in the dictionary. One off difficult words are explained at the bottom of the page they are on, for example 'caulked'!
Wear and tear?
The editions I own (I have about 40) are hardback and so they have worn pretty well given the amount of use they get. In some places the cover is coming away from the main pages but that is natural with a book of this size.
Its also worth saying that as it is a full text bible the pages are very thin (like cigarette paper) and so do tear easily. This hasn't been much of a problem but if you're expecting thick, strong pages then you'd be surprised. In this sense it is much more in the mould of an adult bible.
This is the best children's bible I've come across and is a good transition from a simple bible storybook to an adult version. It is reliable enough to be reliable and simple enough to be read by new readers. It is only the occasional area of disagreement and the illustrations that prevent me giving it the full five stars. Instead I humbly award it 4 (although I'd give it 4 and a half if I could)!
Thanks for reading this, I realise many people have different views on the bible and appreciate the time you've taken to read my review.
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