Is there a non-religious book of Bible stories?

Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 01:26 pm
We have a book of Greek Myths that my daughter loves. We have a book of Norse Myths that she also loves, and a book of folktales.

I would like to get a book of Bible stories, such as Samson and Elijah, told just as stories for school aged children. All of the books I can find treat the subject as religion, not as mythology. There are some great stories here, and I think they are part of the culture and important to know.

Does anyone know a good book of Judeo-Christian stories not told as religion.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 01:53 pm
How old is your daughter?

And what do you mean as "treat it as religion"? I have a bunch of folklore and mythology books too and they each come from within their own framework, which includes religion.

This is a great book that is hard to find, it highlights that aspect (our "mythology" is someone else's religion), Idries Shah's "World Tales":


(My edition is earlier and has much better illustrations, judging by the cover.)

This one seems to have Bible stories retold for kids, with pretty good reviews (I have no first-hand knowledge):

Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 02:28 pm
Thanks Sozobe. My daughter is 7 and very bookish.

By "treat it as religion", I am comparing the Bible story books I have seen with the Usborne Mythology books (that we like very much). In the Mythology books the focus is on the storytelling. The stories are treated as literature with attention paid to atmosphere and setting and the characters. The fierceness of Fenris, or the oddness of the all-powerful fates or the cowardly treachery of Eurytheus are all wonderful parts of the stories that are illustrated with great love and artistry in these stories.

In the Bible story books I have seen, the focus is on religious facts and devotion. The art of storytelling is not a priority. I feel that so much is lost in the telling of these stories because of the religious focus. I realize that the role of the Christian religion in our culture might make this difficult.

We may end up with "Classic Bible Stories". The excerpts I read didn't excite me.

The "World Tales" book you recommend looks wonderful. Fortunately Amazon has it in stock!

Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 02:37 pm
I see. I like the Usborne series too.

The "World Tales" book has a couple of Bible stories but usually from other cultures -- an African version of "Joseph and his Brothers" for example.

I agree that knowing these stories (Bible stories) is important culturally. We haven't really found a great source either. My daughter (10, also VERY* bookish) will be reading the actual Bible at some point probably. (We're not religious, she knows many of the stories from here and there.) We have a few copies, shelved next to the Joseph Campbell books and various world mythology books.

* The "VERY" was inserted by her. I just asked her what her favorite mythology book was (she's read a lot) and she said "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." :-/ I don't quite recommend it, it's a bit fast and loose with classical mythology. (It's a fun read though aside from that.) She liked Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" too though.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 03:03 pm
Interesting. I have had a late friend of jewish heritage who was a tenured literature prof who taught a bible as literature course and another one about the bible and psychiatry (I forget now, exactly - I wasn't a student of his but my husband was - if it was psychiatry or psychoanalysis). Wonder how well he might have done if he had tried his hand at writing a children's eye view of the literature theme. He was, far as I ever knew after years of lengthy talks of many things, agnostic, though he paid attention to the rituals of christians and jews.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 03:58 pm
I just found this article from a "secular home schooler" which I thought was interesting.

The story started with the beginning of the book of Luke. "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea —"

Stop. Explain about the Romans. (We know a bit about them already.) Get out the globe and show where "Judea" would be found.

"— a priest named Zacharias, and his wife Elisabeth. They were both righteous before God —"

Stop. My son is raising his hand.

"What's 'righteous'?"

I try to explain. I had no idea that righteousness would be such a tricky concept for someone who's been raised with non-religiously based morality.

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Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 04:51 pm
Reply Sun 8 May, 2011 05:04 pm
Thanks Beth!

The phrase "Separation of Church and Bedtime" made me chuckle.
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