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!
Buy What's in the Bible from Amazon?
- Buy What's in the Bible? Episode 1-In the Beginning from Amazon
- Buy What's in the Bible? Episode 2-Let My People Go from Amazon
- My What's in the Bible? Giveaway
- My Top 5 Silly Songs with Larry
- What's in the Bible Official Website (w/Blog)
- Phil Vischer's Blog
- VeggieTales (Big Idea)
- Tyndale House
- Tyndale Blog
- What's in the Bible? Youtube trailer