The Bible for Children


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From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present

Ruth B. Bottigheimer

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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 groundbreaking book, the first to recognize children's Bibles as a distinct genre with its own literary, historical, and cultural significance.

Comparing European and American children's Bibles, Ruth B. Bottigheimer reveals how the cultural standards and social attitudes of adults who tell Bible stories to children affect the selection and interpretation of Old and New Testament stories. She also analyzes many familiar Bible tales—for example, the parting of the Red Sea, the Garden of Eden, and the Crucifixion—to see what they tell us about the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish societies that presented them to children. Bottigheimer finds that even disparate religious groups transformed Bible stories for their young according to a common pattern: stories initially stayed close to scriptural text, then troubling passages underwent revisions, and finally a thoroughgoing amendment of the story emerged. Numerous engaging illustrations throughout this book underscore the fascinating variety among children's Bibles of different eras and cultures.

Ruth B. Bottigheimer, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the University at Stony Brook, is also the author of Grimm's Bad Girls and Bold Boys, published by Yale University Press.

"The Bible for Children is an original and remarkable work of scholarship and interpretation. It proves, both surprisingly and conclusively, that for centuries Bible stories have been changed and rewritten in order to teach children contemporary secular manners and morals."—Alison Lurie, Professor of English, Cornell University

"This book will be the seminal work on children's Bible literature. Bottigheimer's research is impressive, and her findings on gender, patriarchy, sexuality, and social class are highly significant."—Gillian Adams

"An impressive scholarly achievement . . . 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."—Publishers Weekly

"[Bottigheimer's] research is impressive in scale, admirable in scholarship and fascinating for the light it throws on different attempts to socialize the young through Bible stories rewritten according to particular social agendas. If there is a better book published about children's literature in the coming year, it will have to be a very good one."—Nicholas Tucker, New York Times Book Review

"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."—Reference & Research Book News

"This book proved to be highly stimulating. Part one is an excellent survey of the models and history of children's Bibles. . . . Part two is a very thorough survey of the content of children's Bibles. Throughout the fascination is high. . . . Bottigheimer's work is excellent. . . . Even those who do not work with children will find benefit from this work; it raises questions of the text of Scripture and of Hermeneutics. I am indebted to her for this work, the learning I gained from it and the challenges it brought."—Paul Butler, Anvil

"The Bible for Children: From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present makes an impressive and significant scholarly contribution to the fields of biblical studies and children's literature."—Helen Kilpatrick, Journal of Religious History

Winner of the 1996 Children’s Literature Award for the most distinguished scholarly work in the field of Children’s Literature given by the Children’s Literature Association
ISBN: 9780300207514
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
352 pages, 5 3/4 x 9 1/4
46 b/w illus.
Grimms` Bad Girls and Bold Boys

The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales

Ruth B. Bottigheimer

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