I started to read J. the story of Moses last night. As a kid I probably scorned story bibles, but someone gave us this one when J. was a baby, and flipping through it I was pleasantly surprised. Now I think you can probably do a whole lot of deleting and clarifying without hurting much. You do lose the texture of the Bible. But we've already read the kids D'Aulaire's Greek Myths (miraculously told without any hint of debauchery) and Julius Lester's version of the Br'er Rabbit stories (retaining occasional cruelty but excising the stories' roots in a culture enslaved). So much for texture.
Still, just setting the scene for the story of the little baby in the bulrushes requires a whole new vocabulary of evil and suffering. J. did not know the words slave, taskmaster, or anguish. Also I forgot that the first thing of note Moses does is murder someone.
When J. is surprised, he doesn't look surprised. Just very thoughtful.
I think we'll proceed. J. likes being challenged. And, though I am not religious, there's a message here. The Israelites are not a particularly well-behaved people. Their relationship with God is anything but smooth. Sometimes they are stubborn and refuse to do as God tells them. Sometimes God abandons them to the consequences of their actions. Sometimes He punishes them rather arbitrarily (it seems to me). At one point they get a “time out” that lasts forty years. He never stops loving them.
Did I just write a whole paragraph comparing myself to the Almighty? I'm just saying I can relate. I expect J. can relate too.