Review: What’s in the Bible? Episodes 1 and 2

Thanks to the good folks over at Tyndale House and Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales) for the advance review copy of What’s in the Bible? Episodes 1 & 2.

The What’s in the Bible? website describes this new video series as follows:

What’s in the Bible? is a new DVD series from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer designed to walk kids and families through the entire Bible.

As you can imagine, I was excited to be included among those asked to review the first two episodes in this series, especially since my 20-month old daughter (The Libster) and I are VeggieTales-aholics.

So, here goes. First, What’s in the Bible? with Buck Denver (and friends), is a puppet-human collaboration in the tradition of Sesame Street. The hosts are Phil Vischer (human) and Buck Denver, Man of News, (puppet). The cast of puppet characters includes the gray-haired Sunday School Lady, the piano playing Pastor Paul, explorers Clive & Ian, and other memorable characters. There is also an entertaining meta-character, Michael, who is a puppet child traveling in the backseat of a vehicle that appears at the beginning and between segments asking his mother to change DVDs. He’s quite amusing, really.

Second, each episode, which consists of two half-hour programs, begins with a “Big Question” such as, “What is the Bible?” “Who wrote the Bible?” and “Who picked the books to be in the Bible?” There are also “new words” where Biblical and theological terms and concepts are explained.

Each episode is filled with song, self-deprecating humor, sarcasm, and, of course, Bible stuff. The first episode, “In the Beginning,” explains “What is the Bible?” in the first segment and takes the viewers through the first eleven chapters of Genesis in the second segment. The second episode, “Let My People Go,” takes the viewer from Abraham to Moses and through Exodus.

The theology appears to be traditional Protestant/Evangelical. The humor ranges from slapstick to high-brow and everything in between. The concepts covered are considerably more complex than what can be found in Christian cartoons and Bible-story programs. This is because What’s in the Bible? aims at teaching the Bible and not just Bible stories. It’s a bold move, but one I expect to pay off.

The downside, if there is one, is that the audience might be limited to children over a certain age. On the Libby test, What’s in the Bible? struggled to hold the attention of a 20-month old. She liked the music and the children interviews, but she has yet to make it through a 30 minute segment after three or four attempts (as opposed to similar length VeggieTales episodes, which she can watch and still want more). I doubt, however, the audience is intended to be so young.

I do appreciate the working assumption: that children are capable of learning and appreciating more than simple Bible stories. Buck Denver and his crew take on concepts such as “redemption,” “salvation,” and the Christian “canon,” and they do so quite well. I suspect there are many adults as well who need refresher courses in these concepts.

In short, if you are looking for VeggieTales retold, look elsewhere. What’s in the Bible? is a more grown-up kids series. It is, however, a great way to introduce kids to more complicated Biblical ideas and to go beyond Bible stories. I would recommend for parents and children to watch together if possible. I would also recommend this series for Sunday school classes, vacation Bible school curricula, even as a supplement to grade school and possibly junior high age lessons.

I think you will be surprised by how easily complex matters are handled and explained. Enjoy!

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  1. #1 by Kathy R on March 30, 2010 - 12:31 pm

    Our family can’t wait for these videos. We think they will be great tools to help us to teach the kids more in depth about the Bible. http://www.whatsinthebible.com

  2. #2 by Karen F. on March 30, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    We’re giving our girls these DVD’s for Easter . . . we can’t wait to watch them!
    http://www.whatsinthebible.com
    -Karen F.

  3. #3 by Tiffany on March 30, 2010 - 1:35 pm

    We’re giving them for Easter, too! But I think I might enjoy them just as much, if not more, than the kids! Did you hear that they are developing a curriculum to go with the videos? Check it out: http://www.whatsinthebible.com

  4. #4 by Jill on March 30, 2010 - 2:16 pm

    I’m really excited about this series! Phil Vischer is brilliant! To enjoy a great program with the kids is fun- but the fact that it is teaching biblical literacy is awesome! Check it out at: http://www.whatsinthebible.com

  5. #5 by Erin on March 30, 2010 - 2:18 pm

    Such a wonderful series – our whole family loves it! Great entertainment and spiritual knowledge! Love it!

  6. #6 by Mellifluous on March 30, 2010 - 2:45 pm

    My family is definitely enjoying our What’s in the Bible DVDs! Not only are they watching, but they are also learning so much. Watching them as a family has been fun for all of us…not just the kids!

    • #7 by Mellifluous on March 30, 2010 - 2:47 pm

      Also, check out Phil’s comments about one of his jokes at http://www.whatsinthebible.com. He even explains things well to adults!

  7. #8 by Peter on March 30, 2010 - 3:11 pm

    Everyone, thanks for stopping by and hanging out. Feel free to return anytime.

  8. #9 by rmarch979 on March 30, 2010 - 3:26 pm

    I can’t wait to get these DVDs! I’ve seen the 1st DVD and was quite impressed (along with my 7 and 10 year old)…

  9. #10 by Amanda Elven on March 31, 2010 - 10:42 am

    I was planning on giving these DVDs to my kids at Easter also, but I could not wait. I was watching at my window for the mailman to come the day they were scheduled to arrive and my son and I ran out to meet him and couldn’t get the first DVD in the player fast enough. We were not disappointed, either! Phil and the crew do such a wonderful job teaching what is often very tricky subject matter. I’ve already bought multiple copies to give to friends and churches and plan on getting more. This project has such potential for changing the way we look at the Bible! Time to go, my son is begging to watch Jelly Telly (the parent project of WITB)! Make sure you check out http://www.whatsinthebible.com and http://www.jellytelly.com!

  10. #11 by Ben Smith on March 31, 2010 - 9:37 pm

    I can’t wait for 3 and 4!! Check it out @ http://www.whatsinthebible.com

  11. #12 by Loriann on March 31, 2010 - 11:42 pm

    I am excited about this new series – and the curriculum that is being worked on to go with it. You can find more info when you follow them on Facebook or on their website http://www.whatsinthebible.com.

  12. #13 by Janelle on April 6, 2010 - 12:05 pm

    I think my daughter is at the perfect age to enjoy this http://www.whatsinthebible.com DVD series. Thank you for your review.

  13. #14 by Ilene on April 8, 2010 - 5:28 pm

    Nice review. We can’t wait for all of them… check them out http://www.whatsinthebible.com

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