Oct 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Apologia iWitness

One of the main goals my husband and I have for our kids' education is to teach them to think. We don't want them to be followers, believing something just because they were told it is true. We don't want jumping on every idea or argument that sounds good or feels good. We want them to sift through the information, sorting through the propaganda, the emotion, the rhetoric and reach an intelligent, intellectually honest conclusion. And our recent review product from Apologia Educational Ministries has helped with this goal. We reviewed a set of three books: iWitness Biblical Archaeology ;  New Testament iWitness; and Old Testament iWitness.

Even when they were very small, I taught my children that there are people who believe differently than we do. There are people who do not believe that the Bible is a true historical account of facts and events. I have often explained their viewpoint, rebutted it with our viewpoint and have never shied away from the fact that there are some things we simply don't know for sure who is right. Like it or not, there are some things we have to accept on faith.

Now that they are a little older, my husband often watches documentaries with the kids. Those historical archaeological shows that discuss findings that quite often relate to the Bible. They love to watch and talk about these shows, but of course, the issue is that they are always slanted toward the opposing viewpoint.

I was delighted to find this set of books from Apologia that presents similar information from the slant of our worldview. The reading level for these books is 11 years old and up. I read them aloud to my crew of 7 to 11 year olds and they were all able to follow along quite easily.

These books are paperback, but they are beautiful! Each two-page spread is a section of information. The pages have a old-fashioned scrapbook feel to them. The text is written in snippets, divided onto what looks likes antique paper so that it feels like a journal of sorts. These are layered around photographs of actual archaeological finds, paintings, and source material. This effect engaged and intrigued my kids. They enjoyed just looking and looking at the pages as I read.

 Old Testament iWitness answers the questions: Who wrote the books of the Old Testament? How did they come to be gathered into one book? Who decided what writings went in and what did not? Has the Scripture changed over the years or has it stayed faithful to the original? How do we know the Old Testament is historically accurate? These were questions that I, a kid raised in the church had asked many times over the course of my life. I honestly believe that most Christians these days have no idea of the answers. I enjoyed being able to read through this book with my own children so that they are now know such things as: how the scribes copied the manuscripts; what the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, and the Torah are; who wrote each book, when, and why; and oh, so much more!  This book was packed full of information about the Old Testament and why we should believe it is the inspired word of God.

New Testament iWitness explores the same sort of questions about the New Testament. This book starts by explaining how books were "chosen" to be part of the New Testament. The surprising answer is that they weren't chosen at all! But rather all the books in the New Testament fit a predetermined criteria that all Christians understood a divine teaching had to have. I found this fascinating. It was certainly information I did not already know! It also addresses the reason the Bible can no longer be added to. It also tells about rejected books, creeds, the apostles, the problems with copying manuscripts by hand and so much more.

 iWitness Biblical Archaeology was probably our favorite. It fit right into what we are studying in history as it told us about different archaeological finds that have backed up and proven the Bible to be true. It moves chronologically through history, starting with the Flood, various flood myths, and the hunt for the Ark. It discusses Egypt and the Exodus, King David, King Hezekiah's tunnel, the Dead Sea Scrolls and many topics revolving around Jesus' life.

They were easy for us to use. I simply added them to our "Creche Conference" time. I read aloud a couple of pages a day (sometimes more if the topics flowed well and the kids' interest remained high) and then we would chat a bit about what we learned. They would pore over the pictures and ask a lot of questions. They were perfect for providing the information I wanted my kids to have about the authenticity of the Bible.

 Each book is $14. They are thin books, but each one is literally packed with information. They were a definite hit in our family.

This is what the kids had to say:

Kaytie: It was interesting because it used real facts to prove that the Bible is true. I liked the pictures. I like that the printing looks like handwriting so that it looks like a journal. 

Nate: I liked it. It was interesting. I liked learning about how archeology has proven the Bible.

Daniel: I liked it because the pictures helped us understand what it really looked like. 

Abbie: I like it because us information about the Bible. Like where the Ark might be. 

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