What's In the Bible?
Volume 3: Wandering in the Desert
Most people have heard of VeggieTales, the children's Bible DVD series that has been around for about 10-12 years now.
But have you heard of the What's In the Bible? series?
Creator Phil Vischer, of What's In The Bible? also originally developed the VeggieTales series years ago.
I received a copy of What's In the Bible? Volume 3: Wandering' in the Desert from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of showing it to our family and then writing a review. I wasn't sure what to expect, since I'd viewed numerous VeggieTales movies over the years.
In some ways, it is similar to the VeggieTales movies. It is very fast-paced, switches scenes about every three milliseconds (!), has numerous characters with a variety of voice styles and accents, and contains frenzied music.
In other ways, it is very different from the VeggieTales movies. The topics and themes are quite different, and this series is much more like Sesame Street than "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything".
What's In the Bible? attempts to show children, book by book, what the Bible is all about. Volumes 1 and 2 cover the book of Genesis. There is a lot to cover in that wonderful, miraculous book, so I can see why it took two DVDs to cover the book of Genesis.
Volume 3: Wanderin' in the Desert focuses on the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. That's a lot to cram into one DVD, but they have done it fairly well.
The beginning of the DVD summarizes what was learned from the first two DVDs, albeit rather quickly.
I haven't seen volumes 1 and 2, but apparently, they covered these basic questions:
- What IS the Bible?
- Who WROTE the Bible?
- What is sin?
- Who were Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph?
The Volume Three DVD contains two parts. Part One focuses on the book of Leviticus. The DVD discusses the following:
- "Holy" means dedicated to or set apart for God, a bit less concrete for the age group this video seems to be geared toward, but then the actual term "holy" is described in several scenarios to help make it more understandable.
- A map of Israel is shown, but for most children (and some adults!), it isn't provided in a context that they can really understand. If they had started with a globe and then zoomed in to where Israel was located, that would have made more sense, in my opinion.
- It has a nice explanation of who the Levites were, from whom they descended, and why they were "set apart."
- The DVD addresses some of the odder rules found in Leviticus. It discusses the differences between ritual holiness and ethical holiness.
- The word "Pentateuch" is also discussed. I thought it was interesting, though, that they never explained that "penta" means "five." That would have been logical to include that information here.
- The DVD briefly covers why Europeans began to disbelieve the try stories of the Old Testament, and then discusses some of the archeological evidence that proves that the Exodus and Moses' leading of the Israelites really took place.
While I really do like the way that such uncommon topics are shown and taught to children, I get really tired of children's DVDs being such an insult to their intelligence. When movie makers determine that children cannot sit still to learn something without the scenery/characters/music/etc. changing every 2 seconds, they have insulted every child who is capable of sitting down and learning something well without having to be treated like a five-month-old baby.
We finally stopped allowing our children to check out some VeggieTales movies from the library because some of them were so frenetic. One of our children preferred "frenzied" movies to all else, so in order to encourage better listening skills and attention skills, we stopped having those types of movies in our home. Now that she is much more self-controlled and mature, we allow them once in a while.
I do feel sorry for families who may have children with audiological challenges. There are so many different accents presented in this particular DVD that for some children, they may not understand some of the lingo in the movie.
I didn't care for the way the rules in Leviticus were referred to as "wacky" or "crazy". While I'm pretty sure that Mr. Vischer is merely attempting to be "cool" and "funny", I don't think any part of Scripture, not even one word, is "wacky" or "crazy." It all has a purpose. Seventh Day Adventists and people who continue to keep the ritual laws of the Old Testament may be offended at the explanation of why the ritual laws are no longer kept; that we only follow the ethical laws now.
But I am glad to see that some of these Old Testament topics are being explored with children. That is not an insult to their intelligence!
Part Two of the DVD covers the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, and answers the question: What is the Pentateuch?
I would prefer this DVD series if they told the true Bible story first in a realistic setting, slowly, so it is respectfully understood by younger children. I don't believe that in order to view and understand the Bible stories, that children need to be exposed to them at a frenzied pace. Even my 10- and 12-year-old children will tell me that it makes the true stories less believable.
Then, after telling the true Bible stories in a respectable manner, they could place the "What's In the Bible" sections in after the true story has been told. Otherwise, for children who have never heard the true Bible versions of the Old Testament stories, they would be confused...they wouldn't understand who all the people are, and what God's purposes have been in their lives.
What's In The Bible? is a combination of cartoon animation, computer animation, and live filming. Like all other VeggieTales movies and most other children's movies, adult level jokes are made about topics that children would know nothing about (Wall Street bankers, nuclear bombs, galaxies, "The King and I" musical, etc.), which I have always thought was strange. Also, the live singers that appear a couple of times in the DVD, the Bentley Brothers, are a low-budget version of something from the 1970s. None of us seemed to care for those two singing segments in the DVD.
To summarize, this isn't your average VeggieTales movie. The topics and themes are at a much higher level, although the acting and method of delivery are again aimed at a lower level of children. I would have made some changes to the way the concepts are delivered, especially for children who aren't familiar with the Holy Scriptures.
Most younger children will need to view this movie a number of times in order to begin to get a grasp on the concepts presented to them.
If a family is studying ancient history and is wisely including biblical history with their homeschooling, then this DVD could play an important role in helping children summarize the books of the Old Testament.
Here is a link for further information about this DVD series:
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of What's In The Bible, Vol. 3 for the purpose of writing an unbiased review of this product. No other compensation has been provided.
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