The Bible from Scratch by Simon Jenkins.
This is a walk through the Bible step by step, each book of the Bible and each new idea has a page devoted to explaining it. It presents an outline of the Bible and how it came into being and then explains how each section fits into the scheme of the Bible. The Old Testament and the New Testament and where for instance the history, poetry and letters are to be found.
It is a great book written in a non-threatening way that kids who are of an age to read easy chapter books can read and learn. Also adults who want to know more about the Bible can learn a lot too, without having to pick their way through historical documents and epic tombs. I like that this book is written in a friendly, easy to read format, with lots of diagrams and cartoons.
The maps, while not accurate google maps, are fabulous and show who was going where and traveling about or who was fighting who. It makes great use of tables and lists to impart knowledge. Family trees to explain genealogies. Highlight boxes to explain specific events. Pages to explain who was who, for instance who were the Scribes and Sadducees, Pharisees and Zealots. Pages to explain confusing things like who were all the Herods. Even though it appears to be simply written the information is great, I gleaned a lot from this book myself.
Also it has a trip around the Bible in 30 days – a quick whizz through the Bible reading a chapter or so everyday – this is a fabulous thing to do with your kids – read a section every day for a month and give them a big picture of the whole story of the Bible.
According to Hood #1: You can open this book anywhere and find something interesting to read. It has a brilliant, yet easy to understand commentary on any book in the Bible, even the books you hardly ever look at like Malachi. If you have a Bible related question it will have the answer in a easy to understand way not an incomprehensible way. Overall it is a great commentary.
There is a Catholic version of this book – don’t get that by mistake, unless you are Catholic of course! And there are two pages on the Apocrypha between the Testaments – they are informative rather than prescriptive.
So all in all a great book that would make a fabulous gift to a new Christian. It is a pleasant surprise amongst all the daunting Bible overviews that are available.