Like many people, I’m not a particularly religious person. I was raised Jewish, and still half-heartedly honor and celebrate some Jewish holidays, but haven’t been to temple in years. My children are similarly unengaged with organized religion and their Mom was raised in the Christian faith but celebrates the cultural side of Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, not their religious observances and meaning.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to be a member of Western Civilization and not be aware of the foundational role of Judeo-Christian values, all of which have been transmitted from generation to generation for thousands of years through The Bible, particularly the Old Testament. The compiled writings of the various authors that comprise The Bible are easily some of the most influential words we can read, even if we’re not religious at all.
Which presupposes that you can read and that you like reading. Problem is, a surprisingly high percentage of Americans aren’t literate and a far higher percentage would prefer to watch a TV show or play a video game than read the printed word. For real. Consider these stats from the Literacy Project:
- 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
- 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
- 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
- 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year
There are plenty of people who read and study The Bible through church and temple groups (Tip: the Torah is made up of the first five books of the Old Testament; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) but what about everyone else? Are we going to leave them with the impression that Charlton Heston is the end all of Biblical interpretation?
Enter Kingstone Comics, a company out of Leesburg, Florida that has published almost the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, in graphic novel form. 2000 pages of graphic novel, in fact, split into three substantial volumes. And they turn out to be quite engaging, as you can see here with this image of the Tower of Babel:
Solid illustrations from a team of artists that have clearly spent a ton of time retelling lots of key Bible stories in this trilogy. This makes the entire book far more accessible, particularly for teens who might be bored and highly unmotivated to read even a single page of the often archaically written Bible translations that most people have on their shelves.
All the great stories you remember as a child show up in the trilogy too, including Moses parting the Red Sea during his exodus from Pharaoh (the story of Passover):
The only issue I had with the portions of the Kingstone Bible that I’ve reviewed (they sent a few excerpts, the story of Noah and Moses) were that not all the racial choices made sense to me. For example, consider the skin color that first woman Eve sports in this illustration:
She sure looks quite caucasian, even though scientists and anthropologists say that early man was undoubtedly dark skinned. The danger, of course, is that the unstated message is that “God created white folk” which does a disservice to the otherwise splendid imagining and retelling of scads of familiar Bible stories. Then again, read up on your Christian doctrine and there’s certainly a group who believe that, yes, the first people of the Bible were all caucasian, and even have some questionable rationales about genetic traits and skin color.
But that’s the only concern I had as I read through these familiar stories in graphic novel form. I remember we had an “Illustrated Bible” when i was growing up and I used to enjoy the pictures that told the tale of Jonah and the Whale, Moses and the exodus from Egypt, Noah and the flood, and so on. What lead artist Art A. Ayris and Kingstone Comics have done is update these stories with all new, contemporary artwork, while still keeping the essence of the morality tales and adventures.
Is it a good fit for your family? It might well be, actually. If you’d like your children or other family members who don’t enjoy reading books to learn more about the Bible tales, this is a good way to go. Amazingly, the three volumes add up to 2000 pages and are priced in total at a modest $75. You can learn more at Amazon.com, where the trilogy is priced at $68.46, or jump over to Kingstone Comics for some sample pages.
Disclaimer: First off, Kingstone Comics sent me two story excerpts from the series for the purposes of this review. Second, I do not mean to offend, upset, or challenge anyone’s beliefs regarding the meaning, importance or verisimilitude of The Bible. That’s up to you, these are just my own beliefs.
Thank you for your fair and thoughtful review. My wife and I ordered this set for my 18 year old son. He’s very intelligent and reads as assigned for school, but seldom for pleasure–preferring video games and internet time. I believe graphic novels are a great way to engage those who wouldn’t ordinarily read and am hopeful and prayerful that this will influence him.
Full disclaimer: my wife ordered a set for me (comic book nerd, aspiring cartoonist), too.
I was probably given the same graphic version of the Old Testament when I was a child in the Forties. It was well-loved and provided the basis for my knowledge of my religion, Judaism. It was an American publication. (I am British)