Where did the idea for this project come from?
When I became a Christian in my 20s I read the Bible for the first time and thought, “I don’t remember this stuff from Sunday school. The battles, murders, politics and adult stuff.” Unless you actually read the Bible for yourself, you’re never going to know it’s there. I liked comics and realised there was a need for a project like this, and I could do it.
The first book was Judges and to fund it we did a Kickstarter. I produced a 20 page sample and said to people - here’s an example. People put the money down, then once it was completed they got a copy of the book. It raised just under £20,000. We’ve since done follow up Kickstarters for each book.
Why did you opt for the ‘word for word’ approach – where you include every word of scripture within the comic?
It’s our main selling point because whenever you see a film of a book, or a presentation of the Bible for kids, it’s always cut down. And often when you cut bits out you can accidentally misrepresent the point. We’re passionate that it’s just the words – nothing taken out. We’ve discovered it’s possible to include all the words without boring people! Also – the reader knows they aren’t being sold an edited version.
You’ve already produced Judges and Ruth. This latest one is on Joshua. Were there any unique challenges with this book?
In the later chapters of Joshua, there’s a lot about a tribe getting a bit of land which stretches from this river to this city. When you’re reading the text you’re thinking, “I don’t know where these places are and I have no reference at all.” But with a comic you put the picture in and draw out all the boundaries and place names visually. It really helps.
Some might assume comics like yours are for just kids, but that’s not true, is it?
Twenty years ago comics were just for kids. But now those kids are adults. So today, the primary age of people who buy comics is men between the age of 25 and 35 and women between the ages of 17 and 25.
There are lots of events in the Bible that aren’t for kids! There’s plenty of kids’ versions of the Bible around already. But the Bible is a book for adults, so the comic is aimed at an adult audience.
What can the Word for Word Bible comics do better than our standard Bibles?
The perfect quote is from Rev Dr Christopher R Smith - a Bible scholar who writes IVP published commentaries - when reviewing it he said “One might argue Word for Word Bible 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.” So even if you love the Bible and you study it, if you don’t know late Bronze age, Middle Eastern material culture, you can’t visualise it. You can’t think ‘what would that be like?’ ‘What kind of sword did David use to cut Goliath’s head off?’ ‘What does a Canaanite look like?’ I didn’t know until I studied Egyptian New Kingdom Period Art of Canaanites! You can only use your imagination to see things you’ve seen before.
What steps have you taken to make sure your comic is accurate to the biblical stories?
Our strapline is: ‘Historically accurate, unabridged and untamed.’ So the places in Israel, the weapons and armours, even the animals and plants we’ve illustrated are specific to the region and time period. We want to give people a really accurate window into what it was like in that day.
We have people – including biblical scholars – checking the comics on a theological level. Rev Dr Christopher R Smith has gone through, asked questions and we’ve talked about it and adjusted things to make sure it’s absolutely representing the text in the right way.
To pre-order The Book of Joshua: Word for Word Bible Comic or purchase the other comics in the series visit wordforwordbiblecomic.com