Are we robbing kids by simplifying the Bible?

I’m a big fan of all the different translations of the Bible. There’s only so long I can read all the “unto thees” and “thus’s” of the King James Version. Then I switch over to NIV or NLT or ESV or (gasp) The Message version and check out the Bible in more modern language. We do this to even more of an extreme when we are relaying the Bible to kids. In some cases, we just give kids these books that aren’t Bibles at all. They are books with all the Bible stories in them (plus pictures, of course). kidsbible

Why do we do this to kids? Naturally, we think their brains (that are often just grasping the ability to read) are incapable of interpreting meaning from all those pesky “thee”s and “shalls”. I’m not sure if we’re right about that. It makes sense logically because we see kids brains as inherently inferior to adult brains. However, we know, if He wanted to, God could have set it up differently.

Back in Jesus’ day, there were no chapter numbers or verses in scripture. Men studied scripture and more or less memorized it. That’s a lot of memorization. I’m going to make a generalization that might be totally wrong but it is based on me being an assumer (and also the fact that Jewish boys recite the Torah in Hebrew when they are what? 13?). Here it is: People in Jesus’ time must have been learning scripture as they were becoming literate. In fact, I’ll bet scripture was a critical factor in their literacy.

So, by giving kindergartners and first graders a “dumbed” down version of the Bible, are we really disadvantaging them? Could God have designed the Bible (and the subsequent translations) to enable children to achieve an intellectual level that would facilitate a higher learning capability that would extend to fields of study beyond reading and language?

I’ve often felt ripped off for not having been taught Latin as an elementary student. By and large, it seems that having learned Latin (and Greek maybe) translates into greater academic capacity later in life (and again, I offer you no hard evidence but am sure I could if I asked Google).

I am guilty of snipping and editing Bible verses before I give them to my students (K-2nd graders) to “make it easier for them”. There’s no denying that they aren’t great at memorizing Bible verses (except “God is love” – We got that one down!). I’m really wondering if having them rewrite straight Bible verses (KJV)) would reap some kind of intellectual reward for them. Because my kids are “at risk”, they hardly ever fit into the standard behaviors that are in all the research I’ve read about working with kids. I could research this but I could just try it instead.kidsbible2

If you have an opinion or suggestion for my kids, please comment below or use the contact form on my site.


2 thoughts on “Are we robbing kids by simplifying the Bible?

  1. i tend to agree. sure pick parts of the bible that wont give them nightmares, but why not teach our toddlers and young children real passages of scripture that they will be able to recall to the end of their life, rather than dumb-down the bible stories and get them confused between these true stories with the rest of their fictitious story books. My parents help me to recite a bunch of key scriptures in my child-hood and they still come to mind today.

    • Andrew, I am sorry I haven’t replied sooner. I agree with you. I also think, even if they don’t understand what they mean right away, memorizing them at a young age is instrumental in their development.

      Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

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