Most of you know that I have spent the better part of this past year enrolled in a class sponsored by Suwannee called EfM (Education For Ministry). Wow! It’s been an eye-opening experience for sure! I have been attending church all of my life, and yet, l NEVER knew so much illicit sex, violence, warfare, and the general slaughter of animals and people existed in the Bible! I joked with my classmates that I no longer needed my soap opera, (General Hospital) because I now have the Old Testament as a replacement!
What a rich source of literature for the mind and the imagination to romp free through. Not only did my questions become more abundant over the past year, but my imagination has been filled with what the events of Old Testament theology truly look like; that is to say, what these events look like to my imagination. The closest visual interpretations that I can identify whole heartedly with come from two unlikely sources, The Bible Illuminated : Robert Crumb‘s The Book of Genesis and Basil Wolverton‘s, The Bible Story.
Crumb’s book is the ultimate graphic novel. It consists of 224 pages of text and imagery that depict his interpretation of creation, Noah’s’ flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the life of Abraham , and the story of Joseph, his brothers, and Pharoah. Because Crumb professes that he does not believe the Bible is the word of God (“I take it all for myth from start to finish, with probably some faint relation to historical reality”) he is given more freedom to illustrate what is actually printed rather than falling prey to the idealization of what we are accustomed to seeing. The illustrations, like the ancient text, are graphic, sensual, emotional, violent, and devoid of “fluff”.
The other unlikely source for biblical illustrations comes from “Mad” magazine illustrator, Basil Wolverton. Wolverton is said to have been a deeply religious man, and unlike Crumb, Wolverton did believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. He was commissioned to write and illustrate a narrative of the Old Testament (including over 550 illustrations), some 20 apocalyptic illustrations inspired by the book of Revelation, and dozens of cartoons and humorous illustrations for various Worldwide Church publications.
Both illustrators are refreshing from where I stand. I know that there has been a back lash from the Christian conservatives, especially regarding Robert Crumb’s book. The argument seems to be that Crumb took too much “artistic liscense” in his interpretation of the biblical readings. He is seen by many to be lacking in sensitivity regarding the faith of others. I simply do not understand the premise of the argument, especially given that the words are right there in plain text, sacred or not.
Links of Interest