Apologia Educational Ministries has done a few reviews with the Old Schoolhouse Magazine that I’ve had the privilege of being on, and when this one came up, I was thrilled to receive it as well. We’ve been nothing but pleased with everything from Apologia and I expected nothing less than fabulous from this newest review, three books from the iWitness series: iWitness Biblical Archaeology, New Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness.
I have to admit, upon seeing the covers of these books, I wasn’t thrilled. Drab, brown, and rather boring – archaic, even. I had a moment where I reminded myself to never judge a book by it’s cover, and delved inside. I wasn’t disappointed. My kids, too, commented on the uncustomary-for-Apologia book covers, but they got past that. So much so that when Ruby (6) was given half a chance to win another book in the iWitness series from a local bookstore, she jumped at the chance and chose her prize to match the series I had Liberty (11) and Eden (9) reading through. She immediately recognized the brown cover to be a part of this series – so, while less than thrilling, it was certainly recognizable! I had my two older girls read through all three of these books on their own, and comprehension was great for them. Eden is younger than the recommended age reading level of 11, but she reads anything and everything and this didn’t prove difficult for her.
The iWitness books were all written and created by Doug Powell. Designed to bring history to life, to describe happenings, people, and dates that show how the Old and New Testaments came about and to show you the archaeological facts that are proving the Bible to be accurate and true, these three books became a quick hit
with my girls and I was hearing from them regarding what they’d read. While it wasn’t meant to be a history text, it rather is. The New Testament iWitness is a description of books that didn’t make the cut, people who attempted to change the Scripture we now know, and a discussion on “Textual Criticism” was fascinating. How do we know that we have the original text? How was the text copied down? What about the books that we have record of but that aren’t included in Scripture? Short facts and bits help explain how history happened
without a long, drawn out explanation that bores the reader. It’s easy to read a page or two at a time and discuss, and while my girls most often knew what they’ve read, it sparked some interesting conversation – although much was just speculation because we didn’t know! Continuing on in our journey through the iWitness books answered many of these questions and sent us looking for other answers too. Once we got a ways into our first book, the covers made perfect sense. They look archaic because that’s the topic – history of old, forming times in the life of the Bible as we now know it. Suddenly, they didn’t look so drab after all.
iWitness Biblical Archaeology was interesting, and while the names and dates were hard for me to comprehend and imagine as they went along, the descriptions are good but brief, and much is learned in it’s reading – but it would take a bit more studying to retain the names and dates mentioned. It would make a great starting point to venture out and learn more. It contains memorable short stories regarding the attempts – successes, failures, and frustrations – to recover more artifacts that, in the end, have helped to prove the stories in Scripture to be historically accurate.
Old Testament iWitness was fascinating. It compares the Hebrew Bible to the Old Testament, discussing authors, and whether Scripture is true or merely myth. The process of copying the books down is discussed, the Tanakh (a term I’d never heard before) and the different parts of the Old Testament. It was well written, easily understood, and made history easy to understand.
The text is fun. Fun text makes my eyes swim when I’m tired, but my kids loved it. My only complaint, other than needing to be full awake when reading these, is that there isn’t an index. I didn’t mark favorite pages as I went along and couldn’t find many that I’d planned to mention in my review by merely scanning… I had to read most of it again. An index would be helpful. The timeline in the back of the Old Testament iWitness was entirely helpful. My girls repeated over and over how much they liked these books. They learned much, enjoyed the process, and Apologia came through again with a fabulous homeschooling resource!
Each of these three iWitness books is available on the Apologia Educational Ministries website for $14. They are paperback, each contain around 60 thick glossy color pages and while they are appropriate for all ages for listening, the reading level is considered to be age 11 and up.
To read what the rest of the Crew that was on this review thought of Apologia’s iWitness series, check out the Review Crew Blog.