THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM, Lowell Hagan, Jack Westerhof (Illustrations by Paul Stoub); Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; 326 pp., $16.95 (cloth). (Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema)
From a technical point of view this is a beautiful book. The format is lovely. From cover to cover the book is tastefully done. It is characterized by easy readability, gives evidence of much planning and hard work, and its language is geared to children of almost any age.
Yet I cannot recommend this work. My reasons are as follows:
1) The authors have taken very much liberty to add details not found in Scripture, details which are purely fictional. An example is the story of Joseph and Mary, pp. 11-13. Another is the fictional conversation with the innkeeper in Bethlehem, pp. 14-16. It seems to me a child is going to be very surprised when he begins to read the Bible on his own and finds the Biblical account very different.
2) The application at the end of the story concerning the changing of water to wine at Cana sounds humanistic, p. 50: “With this miracle Jesus showed that he had come to bring joy back into human lives.”
3) The impression is left that the beatitudes deal with social justice. An example: “Was this what the kingdom meant, that everything would be set right, that justice would be done at last?” (p. 62)
4) The story of the crucifixion is told horizontally, from the viewpoint of the passersby. There seems to be little sense of the wonder.
These are a few examples of negative criticisms. More could be added. I would not like to have my grandchildren nurtured on this kind of Bible story book.
The artwork, while in a way well done, goes beyond what I would deem proper limits.