Today we continue with our interview with Nancy Ganz, author of Herein Is Love. This is a set of Bible commentaries designed specifically for children. We believe this series to be unique. The material in these commentaries is thoroughly biblical and it is presented in a warm, richly flowing narrative. Parents, teachers and children will gain fresh insights into the biblical texts that will impact everyday life. If you have ever wondered about how to make the bible come alive to your children and to yourself, Herein is Love will do just that.
This interview was originally published in 2010.
Nancy Ganz: When I began writing about Genesis, I don’t think I was planning on writing a book, and certainly not a whole series of books. I was just writing one lesson at a time for children in my Sunday School class. Two of my own small children were part of that class and I was writing for them. I couldn’t find material that I found sufficiently interesting for myself, nor could I find material focusing on what I wanted my children to learn – to love God, because He first loved us. The first draft of Genesis (and then the other Old Testament books) were hand-written on a clip board, the pieces of paper later filed in plastic bags. (Don’t ask me why.) About five years later, I began re-writing the lessons, still hand-written, but this time in notebooks … a much better system. The third revision was about five years later again – and this time I typed the lessons, with the thought that other people might like to use them. I’m not sure at what point I envisioned an entire set of commentaries on the Old Testament, but this became a grand scheme of mine along the way. My “vision” took the form of a row of green, hard-covered, gold-lettered volumes – but I doubt if that is the form they will ever take.
One has to modify one’s dreams at times. Also, everything seems to take longer than anticipated. I now wonder if I will have enough time and strength to finish the Old Testament (and I have all kinds of other writing projects that I want to finish too) so I scaled down my grand vision with the plan of just getting the Israelites into the Promised Land.
People ask me: “How long did it take you to write your Genesis commentary?” I answer truthfully: “Twenty years” (although I was writing commentaries on other books of the Bible during that time as well.) In fact, when I was working on the final draft of Genesis, I was writing another book at the same time, a book not part of the Herein Is Love series at all, a finished book which has been sitting in a drawer for the last fifteen years. I really want to do a final polishing on that book too and send it off for publication.
Jay: I have always appreciated your title for the series – Herein Is Love. Would you tell our readers why you chose to emphasize love in the title?
Nancy: Each of the commentaries is part of the Herein Is Love series, because God’s Love shines forth in every book of the Bible, in every chapter of every book of the Bible! This is part of a New Testament quote: “Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us – and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:10). That has to be one of the most important verses in the entire Bible.
JY: Bible literacy and familiarity are on the decline with families. I believe one of the reasons for this decline is that Christians have lost a sense of the wonder and drama of the early books of the Old Testament. Would you agree? (Follow up: If so, when you teach your material to children, do you see them developing this sense of excitement about the bible?)
Nancy: Yes and yes, I do see the chi1dren developing a sense of excitement about the Bible. I receive letters from children thanking me for my books and telling me how much they love learning about the Bible. One time a young woman, who years ago was a little girl in one of my early c1asses, said she was so disappointed when she grew up and read Leviticus for herself. She remembered it as a wonderfu11y exciting book. She realized then that it was the way I taught Leviticus that made it so exciting for her. Sometimes God gives us dry facts -and it’s up to us to explain to the children what these facts mean and how these facts encourage faith in the God who loves us. If we want the chi1dren’s attention, it’s up to us to make the dry bones dance like puppets on a string.
Read more of this interview in the next post.