How do I know it's accurate to the Bible, and that I should back it?
If you are a Christian worried about some heretical rendition of the Bible, good. It's right to be concerned and to know what you are putting your money into.
I am trying in every way to ensure this comic is true to the text, referencing back to the original Hebrew and Greek. Be assured I am more concerned about the “Author” being displeased with the work I do than any critique or displeasure from the fans.
Below you can see some of the points I address on the web page, but here are a few quotes and links from Bible experts and teachers.
“One might argue that W4W is actually a more authentic presentation of the Bible than our bare printed texts, which invite us to fill a visual vacuum by supplying pictures in our own imagination of people and events. We tend to do this as if they happened in our own time and place, or else in a generic 'Bible world' where nothing really changes culturally from Abraham to Paul.”
Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith (Author of “Understanding the Books of the Bible” Study Guides from IVP)
“In cases like this the artistic depiction in W4W supports, rather than undermines, the larger theological themes of the Bible.”
Who is creating this?
In regards to my position within the greater church, I'm a member of the Newfrontiers movement in the UK, in City Church Bristol. This means I am an evangelical Christian and have an inerrant view of Scripture. I also have a scholarship within the Koinonia Institute Study centre.
As a child I went to a Methodist church in Cornwall, but I didn't become a committed Christian until I went on an Alpha course on 2005 in Bristol. I gave my life to the Lord then and have been growing in my knowledge and faith in God and the Bible ever since.
I read the Bible properly for the first time and was amazed at the provocative tales of corrupted man and an uncompromising God. These adult stories of a powerful messiah were not what I remembered from Sunday school. Reading through the Book of Samuel was like reading a Game of Thrones novel and so I became very excited about reading the Bible. There’s a big gap between Bible-based comics and storybooks for kids, and the real harsh texts of the book we read as adults.
I felt called to fill that gap and create a graphic novel of the books of the Bible that would be not be for little kids but would be a good way to reach teens (aged 15+) and adults, with the full story of the Bible. Chuck Missler, a teacher I greatly respect, often says “the only real barrier to Truth is the assumption you already have it”, I believe many believers assume they know the stories of the Bible but are surprised when they sit down and read it in full.
The aim of this project is to get the full word of God into the hands of young people and help them read it by including dramatic and exciting pictures alongside the text. This also help the stories be more memorable.
I have grown to love the Bible through reading and studying it. I strive for accuracy in my work and so I use Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, study bibles and commentaries from the Crossway (ESV), Zondervan (NIV), IVP Academic, Tyndale Press, Lion, The Bible Speaks Today, Thomas Nelson, and a whole host of others. I also check difficult verses with my Hebrew/Greek Interlinear Bible and ISA Basic software.
I love listening to good teachers while I work like Chuck Missler, Terry Virgo, Dr Martin Lloyd Jones, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur, Tim Keller and many more. These help me keep learning more and more about God and our Messiah. I try to “receive the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things [are] so.”
I am always open to improving my understanding of the text and am open to suggestions and challenges on how to better the work.
If ever I do accidentally represent something in a way that is considered dishonouring to God or of poor theology, I will change it for all further issues. If you like the project but are still concerned about the doctrine and theology then become a “Consultant” by pledging and selecting that 'Add On' option. Doing this will give you a direct line to me and you will be consulted on any difficult elements in regular emails. For example, how to depict the execution of Jephthar's vow as good scholars disagree over the fate of Jephthar's daughter.
Simon Walker – New Frontiers Leader
Rev Dr David Firth -Lecturer in Old Testament Higher Eduction and General Editor of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary.
More about the Book
TRANSLATION – The translation I will use will be modern in language and as close to the original text as possible. I am currently planning to use the World English Bible (WEB) translation as I feel it is a good balance between a “formal equivalent” and a “dynamic equivalent" and is an updated version of the excellent American Standard Version (ASV). If I can acquire the rights I may produce the work using the New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV), or English Standard Version (ESV).
AMBIGUITY – There are times where the minutiae of the Bible stories are ambiguous. Consider Jephthar's vow for example (Judges 12). Did he sacrifice his daughter by fire or dedicate her to the Lord in service? The more you search, the more difficult it is to discern. What is clear however is Jephthar does not know his Torah! With an ambiguity like this I have decided to draw the comic to be equally ambiguous. In this example, the comic may leave the casual reader with the impression that the daughter has been sacrificed as a burnt offering, as a servant to the Tabernacle or unsure. My hope is that if readers are unsure or possibly bewildered by the human sacrifice they will get online and decide for themselves.
VIOLENCE – This graphic novel will not shy away from any issue the Bible addresses. Unfortunately, due to the corruption of mankind, these issues include violence, kidnapping, cold-blooded murder, even rape and infanticide. This work will not glamorize evil of any kind, nor will it be explicit or dwell on these things, but it will cover all the lessons that the Bible teaches.
NUDITY - Nudity will be implicit but not explicit. Where people are naked in the story they may appear as a silhouettes or partially obscured but they will still be naked. My aim is to be faithful to the text but not provoke lust in the reader.
PORTRAYING GOD AND ANGELS – Firstly it is obvious that in this work I will be depicting the “form of things in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” but I believe that as they are not for the purpose of worship/idolatry this is not a contravention of the second commandment. I am not planning to depict God the Father in any human form. It may be necessary to show him one day in Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4, but this will not be as a white-bearded old man but more likely a being of pure light. The Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, and other unseen things of spirit are represented in the comic with a bright turquoise colour throughout. For example, when the Angel stands in front of Balaam's donkey the first time it is invisible to Balaam, in this comic series the angel in that case would be a turquoise line image to show his presence but invisibility. Angels that are not manifesting in human form will be portrayed in line with descriptions found in Revelation, Isaiah 6, and Ezekiel visions - not guys with feathery wings!
RESEARCH NOT TRADITION – I will always challenge the validity of traditions that surround the stories. If I feel they do not detract from the true meaning of the text I may include them or make subtle reference to them, but generally if they are not Biblical they will be excluded. An example of this would be the Magi in the Nativity story. In the Word-for-Word Bible Comic they will not be portrayed as kings and they won't arrive when Jesus is still a newborn baby; neither will they represent different ethnic groups but all be Parthian Magi.
For example of the care and attention to detail within the Biblical text please read the blogs below...
Should you back it?
If you like the idea but are still not sure if you should be backing it because you are worried it might misrepresent the text please pray about it seriously.
Also please consider: there are many representation of the Bible stories that you have probably already 'backed' by watching them on tv, at the movies or bought and many of these will have an imperfect representation of the events. If my own work is in error, but you donate in good faith I will be the one culpable. I continue to pray my pictures will draw people in and they will learn to love and study the Bible for themselves.
Please get involved and help me get the word of God in full into the hands of believing and unbelieving young people and comic lovers of all ages.