The book of Genesis represents the beginning of all history. It
is a rich, exciting book that lays the foundation of the history
of all empires and all people. In his Family Bible Study Series,
Kevin Swanson has written The Book of Genesis: In the Beginning to
be used as a study help during family worship time. Kevin Swanson
writes these studies to be used with his own children. They are
not watered down versions of Bible stories; instead, it is intended
that families will read each Bible chapter and then read the corresponding
study guide chapter together.
This guide takes families from Genesis chapter 1 to chapter 50,
covering 3,000 years of world history. Each lesson discusses one
Bible chapter and shares an easy two-word theme to memorize for
each chapter so that, by the end, children can recite what each
chapter is about. For example, Chapter one is "The Creation," Chapter
two is "Man Created," Chapter three is "Man's Fall," and so forth
through all the chapters. The guide book shares a summary and exposition
of each chapter as well as applications for family life. Questions
follow each chapter, one section of questions to cover content
and two or three questions to stimulate family discussion.
Families might want to consider breaking up these chapters for
weekly use rather than daily use. After the Bible reading, the
study guide adds another five pages to family devotion time as
well as time for family discussions and any prayer, worship, or
memory work families wish to incorporate. If completed daily, these
lessons could average an hour per day.
Many family Bible studies are written at a young, elementary level
and are not as accessible to older siblings. This study definitely
does not fit that profile. In fact, it is written at an adult level
with the understanding that children under the age of eight may
have a hard time understanding the material. The author strongly
believes that we should aim high in our family worship to encourage
a maturity in the knowledge of our children. There is a balance
though between encouraging maturity and fostering frustration.
Some children will listen contentedly and pick up pieces of understanding
here and there. Others will strive to understand each word spoken
and might wear themselves out in their effort to understand. My
seven-year-old was quickly frustrated with this series. She is
inquisitive and dislikes pretending to understand something that
she does not. We had to stop for every sentence to explain a new
word or concept. I am a huge fan of vocabulary expansion, but this
series was taking the joy out of Bible study for my younger children.
The author states that each exposition is given in simple terms,
but I didn't find this to be so at all. An example of the writing,
which is a fair representation of the book, says this:
That Jacob was a man of high achievement, clarity of purpose,
and indefatigable persistence there should be no doubt. His passion,
his energy, and his intense persistence is persuasive with God.
But how does a man influence God when God is the first cause, the
chief influencer of all things?
It is certainly an interesting topic to explore, but I don't think
it can honestly be described as using "simple terms." Another example
from an earlier exposition states, "The desire for children is
hard-wired into a woman's frame, and the denial of this fact by
the modern feminist, abortion culture has produced tremendous misery
for millions of women across western nations." The terms used here
are closer to fitting the description of "simple", but the content
As for the Family Discussion Questions, we did not find these
to be stimulating conversation starters. One example from the beginning
asks, "What are some of the ways our family engages the dominion
mandate? Does our family have a vision for multiplying and filling
Right now, someone is reading this discussion question and thinking "This
is exactly what I'm looking for!" But I suspect I am not alone
in wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do with a question like
this. It would not generate discussion in my family, only furrowed
brows. My seven-year-old would say, "What does 'engages' mean?
What does 'dominion' mean? What does 'mandate' mean?" while my
thirteen-year-old would respectfully ask to be excused from any
discussions that involved my sex life.
This is an interesting study, full of meaty content that could
be enriching for families with older children. There is a need
on bookstore shelves for just such a book. Many family studies
begin with preschoolers, progress up to fourth grade, and then
separate into independent teenager studies. Many families with
older children will appreciate having these deeper studies and
conversations. However, I think families with younger children
will want to pass on this particular guide.