Paul L- Maier

Thursday Book Club: The Very First Easter

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier, (Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 32 pages. This is a good resource for teaching younger grade school children about Easter.  Paul Maier is an historian who has given the church excellent editions of the writings of both Josephus and Eusebius (I used the Eusebius text when I taught 8th grade Christian history). In recent years, Maijer has also written six children's books on the Old and New Testaments.

In this edition, Maier tells the story of holy week from the gospel of Luke.  As you'd expect from a great historian, there is great teaching material here about the differences between ancient and modern culture.  In the book, the Easter story is narrated by a father to his son, Chris.  Maier uses the family interactions to answer questions that any listening child is bound to ask.  One of the best instances of this storytelling technique comes on page 14:

"Judas then marched into the garden leading a group of armed men from the temple guard.  Judas had told them, 'The man I kiss will be Jesus.  Seize Him!""Judas kissed Jesus?  Yecch!" muttered Chris.

Mom smiled.  "In those days a kiss was a way to greet someone," she explained.  "This kiss would let the soldiers know which man was Jesus.  After all, Jesus' picture would never have appeared on TV or in a newspaper."

Overall, this is the book's best quality.  It explains the Easter story's historical setting in very simple terms.

There are a couple of downsides to the book:

  • On page 12, there is a confusing interchange of God the Father for "God" in a comment of Luke 22:41-42.  Maier misses an opportunity here to teach kids about the Trinity.
  • In many of the illustrations, the Bible characters appear with Western rather than Middle Eastern or Jewish features.   This can be confusing for kids.

But, overall, I think this is a very helpful resource for Easter.