No matter what your religious persuasion, you will probably agree with me that The Bible deals with some heavy stuff. Rape, war, incest, and genocide are in the same book that promotes grace and forgiveness. The way the text is presented varies wildly from Bible to Bible, especially when you consider the footnotes, annotations, and explanations the editors include. When I look at the “teen” Bible I read when I was an adolescent I’m disturbed that it taught me what to think, instead of how to query. That’s why I was so impressed with The CEB Student Bible. It’s not afraid to let teens think for themselves. It poses big questions, offers background information, and sets minds loose to pray and explore.
A great example of how The CEB Student Bible deals responsibly with “big” issues is in the Old Testament book of Hosea. Hosea opens up with God telling the prophet to marry a prostitute named Gomer, and this relationship is then used as a metaphor for how God’s people have been unfaithful. This is such a difficult passage to understand, and my women’s Bible study group really wrestled with it. Taken at face value, it seems very demeaning to Gomer. Who knows why Gomer became a prostitute in the first place? Maybe she was an orphan, or abused, or forced into temple prostitution by her father. Now she has to represent the sins of Israel and Judah? How unfair is that!
The CEB Student Bible has lots to say about Gomer, sexual infidelity, Baal and Idolatry, as well as injustice. It offers context that helps Hosea make sense. It also poses big questions teens struggle with. Is it fair for Gomer to stand for goodness or sinfulness? Is sexual purity the same as a person’s entire virtue? Are boys and girls talked about differently at school when it comes to sex? The CEB Student Bible doesn’t offer easy answers, and I like that about it a lot.
Thank you to Side Door Communications for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest opinions and review.