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10,000 pictures paint the Word March 23, 2023

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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exploring a few Bible comics

DC Comics launched their first Bible comic in 1942. Since then there have been a lot of attempts to retell some or even all of the Bible in multiple linked panels. Why bother?

The primary motivation is simple: to engage people (young and old) with the Bible. Bible comics aren’t meant to replace the Bible, but they may be the first way that some people actively choose to read the stories for themselves.

There are a lot of children in the world and they do seem to like comics and picture books. Adults of all ages seem to like them too but as the stories and artwork get more complex the term Graphic Novels is used to define what scholars apparently like to call “sequential art”.

Chapter 23 of the Oxford Handbook on the Bible in America is called “The Bible and Graphic Novels and Comic Books“. Written by Dr Andrew T Coates it is freely available on Academia and has much to inform (but contains no pictures).

Meanwhile you can take a look at some of the comics and graphic novels that have been produced over the years.

DC Comics produced just a two issues of Picture Stories from the Bible before comic book pioneer Maxwell Gaines left to form EC Comics. You can read more about Max on Wikipedia or browse through the comics themselves via the internet archive (free loan for an hour at a time)

Also pictured above is cover from Jesus as depicted by Al Hartley and published by Spire Christian Comics in 1979.

Somewhat more contemporary is the 2019, Lion Kids Bible Comic, billed as “The Beano meets the Bible. Over 60 stories in comic strip style, from artists who brought us the Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep cartoon strips”, and now accompanied by the all new Lion Kids Bible Comic Activity Book.

At the older target market the Action Bible is still quite popular and other new contenders include Kingstone Bible bringing a total of “2,000 pages in three volumes with over 10,000 full-color art panels”. Kingstone has a vision for seeing their work translated widely. So far they have content available in about 60 languages and counting.

As far as I can tell the most widely translated Bible comic is the Jesus Messiah Picturebook, first published in 1993 and now available in over 230 languages.

A friend gave his own son the Czech version of Iva Hoth and André LeBlanc’s 1978, Picture Bible when he was eight, and he read it until the cover fell off.

There are many of other Bible comics from different decades and different continents in many different styles, and also a wide range of children’s picture Bibles (not that pictures are just for children).

UK Christian Book store Eden.co.uk lists over 430 Children’s Bibles, of which almost 70 are “storybook Bibles“. Not all will appeal to every audience and despite the skill and enthusiasm of the artists it’s not quite true that pictures will be understood by everyone.

Anyone considering translating a comic or picture Bible, or using any artwork cross culturally would do well to check what read my colleague Michelle Petersen’s paper on avoiding visual miscommunication.

Perhaps the risks of miscommunication should be balanced with the risks of missed communication. It may be the pictures that grabbing the attention that allows the text to be read or heard. To adapt a well known phrase, “every picture sells a story”.

Is this a Real Bible: Gruffalo Leather March 13, 2023

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I’ve posted a few times about products that might get people wondering “is this a real Bible?” What do you think? Is the book pictured a real Bible or not?

I’ve seen a few luxury Buffalo leather Bibles so just for fun I Googled “Gruffalo Leather Bible” and found this…

found on Abe Books

It definitely looks like an impressively bound Bible but actually this really is a leather bound edition of the hugely popular, much translated, and also much shorter children’s story, the Gruffalo. (No Gruffalos were harmed in the making of this book cover)

Given that The Gruffalo is only about 30 pages long in most editions the leather binding does seem to be a bit unnecessary. I also suspect that part of the appeal of the Gruffalo is the pictures and accompanying story not the binding. (Personally I thing the content is more important than the cover for Bible’s too, but I recognise that people do judge a book it’s cover and design is an issue that can impact engagement.)

The Gruffalo hasn’t been translated as much as the Bible but is now available in over 100 languages (105 by 2021). Translation can be less precise than with scripture as the following posts suggest.

and again…

#ThreeSillyBoatsGruff March 9, 2023

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I asked ChatGPT: Rewrite the children’s story the three billy goats gruff but instead of goats trying to cross a bridge make it refugees in boats trying to cross the English channel and make the troll be a mean politician called Rishi. I helped shape the final version of the story a little more suggesting it let Rishi use the phrase “who’s splish splashing across my territorial waters” and that it be the brave citizens of the destination country who defeat the politician after the children in the third boat appeal to them on TikTok (I don’t use TikTok so blogged it and it posted here on twitter)

Once upon a time, there were three families fleeing from the war-torn country of Gruff. They knew that they had to leave their home to find safety and a better life, so they set off on a perilous journey to cross the English Channel to a new country.

The families had three small boats that were not meant for the dangerous crossing, but they had no other choice. As they paddled towards their destination, a politician named Rishi stood on the shore and demanded, “Who’s splish-splashing across my territorial waters?!”

The families were frightened, but they knew they had no other option but to try to cross the channel. Rishi stood in their way and declared, “I will not let you into my country! You are not welcome here!”

The first two families tried to reason with Rishi, but he refused to listen to their desperate pleas. The third family, consisting of three young children, came up with a clever plan.

They pulled out their phones and began filming a TikTok video, sharing their story and asking for help. The video went viral, and soon people all over the world were sharing it, using the hashtag #ThreeSillyBoatsGruff.

As the video gained traction, the citizens of the destination country realized the danger that the families were facing, and they rallied to their aid. They began to put pressure on Rishi to let the families enter the country, using the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome.

Eventually, Rishi relented and allowed the families to cross the channel and enter the country. The citizens of the destination country greeted them with open arms, providing them with food, shelter, and a new start in life.

The families were grateful for the kindness shown to them, and they never forgot the power of social media and the willingness of people to help those in need. They knew that they had faced many dangers and difficulties, but they were finally safe and able to start a new life in a new land.

…of course this still sounds like a fairy story but there are lots of good people who can make a difference #ThreeSillyBoatsGruff doesn’t need to trend but let’s make sure that #RefugeesWelcome defeats #StopTheBoats

Mission in time – before and after 1992 December 9, 2022

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It’s encouraging to think that for a few people from the UK their first steps towards involvement in global mission began back in 1992 in response to celebrations of the BMS Bicentenary. I know I did but I’d spent a lot more time memorising and proclaiming the words of William Carey than most of the audience.

I was part of a ‘multimedia celebration’ looking back at the history of the Baptist Missionary Society (we acted, danced and had a really big video projector), meanwhile Steve Chalke and the Shout theatre company looked to the future.

from the BMS Annual Report 1993

I don’t know how many people saw the shows or what impact they really had on the people who came along but after touring 50 different venues ‘inspiring’ people and presenting them with a slice of history and a challenge to involvement, the following year I joined in some local evangelism, started at Bible college, and on leaving Bible college joined Wycliffe.

What an atheist learnt from dating a devout Christian March 21, 2022

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There are a lot of lapsed atheists in the world. I used to not believe in God but that was over thirty years ago. In an article from 2019, journalist Michael Burton declared:

I’m an atheist. I have been for as long as I can remember. All my closest friends are atheists. We do atheist things like fear death and worry about the meaninglessness of life. Then, about a year ago, something quite unexpected happened: I fell in love with a Christian. A proper one, too. For her, God is as certain as daybreak and nightfall.

Michael Burton, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/atheism-date-christian-love-religion-relationships-god-a8934071.html

Back in the final days of my own atheism I didn’t specifically fear death – I figured that once you were dead you ceased to exist and consequently weren’t to bothered about being dead. Life however was another matter entirely. Life, at times, was scary. I guess Michael understands that too – in another article he talks about the time in 2010 that he spent a year going blind. That’s another story, long before he met his girlfriend, but like every other human on the planet he still has troubles…

Whenever I’m going through emotional turmoil or have a tough decision to make, she’ll say, “I’ll pray for you.” This was infuriating at first. It was like I’d cut myself and she was saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll ask my imaginary friend to get some plasters.” In time, however, I realised that, for her, praying is perhaps the most intimate and loving gesture she can undertake.

I also used to think of God as “an imaginary friend” for people who didn’t know better. Atheists can be a bit arrogant that way …but I’ve since learned that Christians (and people of other faiths), can be a bit arrogant too, secure in our own belief and convinced that everyone else is wrong or misguided. Atheists make assumptions about Christians and people of other faiths, Christians make assumptions about atheists, and people of other faiths …and also make assumptions about people in other branches of our own faith.

A final quote from Michael (you can read more in the original article:

I’ve never read it but I have to say, the Bible is full of good stuff. So much fantastic life advice in that book. There isn’t an inspirational meme or a self-help topic that hasn’t been written about and worded better in the Bible. Although I don’t buy into the metaphysical aspect of it all, my girlfriend has quoted passages from the good book to me that I love.

I’d not have gone as far as say I’d never read the Bible. I was raised at a time when you occasionally had to. I was even sent to church and Sunday school until I was 8 or 9, but I never really read it of my own choice, at least not until after I’d met some ‘devout Christians’ at university.

For me however, it wasn’t just the ‘devout Christians’ that had an impact. I assumed they’d just been brought up that way. I was more surprised when my room-mate told me that he believed in God, but wasn’t interested in church or the Bible for now. He said he’d get serious about God when he was older – he wanted to enjoy life first.

It may seem foolish to ask an “imaginary friend” for help but if you believe in a creator God who actually wants to be involved in your life, then ignoring him seems totally crazy. If God is the reason you exist, then surely he should have some impact on how you live?

I was still an atheist at that point, but perhaps a less committed one, and when my own turmoil hit later, I did open a Bible, and gradually shifted from convinced but nominal atheist, to someone who was searching, and then from someone who was searching, to someone who felt found.

I’d unsurprisingly agree that “the Bible is full of good stuff”. In my initial enthusiasm I ploughed through the New Testament in four weeks and the Old in four months, but even after 30+ years of reading it there are some bits I’m still waiting to understand.

It’s not too late to think about Christmas December 1, 2021

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Advent has started so it’s no longer too early to be thinking about Christmas, but it’s also not too late for churches to think about how they can be a bit more multicultural and a bit more multilingual in making everyone in their church feel welcome and included.

[update Dec 29 – technically it’s still not too late to think about Christmas. The 12 days of Christmas ‘conveniently’ link the dates for the western and the eastern churches. You could also put a link to this post in your calendar so you have links to these resources ready for 2022 …oh, and one more thing – Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas, so it’s okay to tell the story at other times too, especially if people haven’t heard it before!]

A site I often recommend to raise awareness of Christmas traditions from around the world is WhyChristmas.com . This is an easy thing to share on social media or in a newsletter or Christmas card, and start a discussion on different Christmas traditions.

A couple of years ago I posted on how to say Merry Christmas in many languages.

Last year I started a youtube playlist of Christmas carols that have been translated into many different languages. I’m planning to add a few dozen more and mix them up a bit so that there is a bit more variety of song as well as language. This playlist Multilingual Christmas (translated carols), features versions of just a few songs starting with Persian, Navajo, Lotha, ASL, Telugu, German, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Nepali, Samoan, and a few bits in English. One of my current favourites is a seven language version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

[update Dec 12th] – The playlist now includes over 40 languages including additions in French, Indonesian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Twi, Latin, Gaelic, Slovak, Albanian, Welsh, Kapampangan, Bengali, Malay.

A few of the older songs started out in Latin and German, and in another list I hoped to include some of my favourite Christmas songs from around the world that aren’t (yet) so international but others have perhaps already done this quite well. Songs to Serve has created a great and growing playlist Christmas Songs from Different Cultures. Another Global Christmas Songs 2021 has an accompanying reading guide compiled by ethnodoxoligist, Paul Neeley, with a separate post for each song.

Traditional carols may offer good outreach possibilities as the tunes are recognisable by communities worldwide that have at least been exposed to western forms of Christianity and can actually be played and sung in shopping centres not just in churches. (Glory to God in the High st). Again individual songs or the link to the playlist can also be shared on social media.

And just in case you were wondering….

While the most translated modern Christian song is The Blessing, the most translated Christmas carol is probably Silent Night which has apparently been translated into over 140 languages. A comprehensive list with lyrics is at silentnight.web.za .

Reblogs: Share the Awesome January 6, 2021

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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A useful seven year old post about reblogging with 52 comments!
Found while thinking about the etiquette of reusing other people’s material (and of other people reusing mine). In short if you want to reuse any of my posts (without even asking) these are some useful guidelines – share a sample and point people back to the original post.

The Daily Post

My last post was about pingbacks and trackbacks, and some of you had questions about how that relates to reblogs. Both features help you share the work of other bloggers on your own site, but whereas a pingback simply notifies the original blogger that you’ve linked to their site, a reblog captures an excerpt of another blogger’s post and automatically links back to their content. 

View original post 486 more words

Abstract October 7, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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No explanation for why I’m posting this (yet)

Definitions of the words and a video of someone pronouncing it in one of the many British accents is at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/abstract

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