Contribution to Book
I became interested in the intersection of comic books and Bibles for children as a part of my attempt to make some sense out of the Brick Testament, a web-design project illustrating scenes from biblical stories entirely in the medium of Lego blocks. Despite the ostensibly child-friendly nature of the images—Legos are, after all, a children's toy—the project has a sharp critical edge to it. We catch a glimpse of it in the index, which has content ratings alerting viewers to which scenes contain "Nudity, Sexual activity, Violence and Cursing." Indeed, what Smith chooses to illustrate from the Bible emphasizes its "adult-themed" content by highlighting the violence, sexuality, and oddity of its content. Much of the material typically omitted or cleaned up for children's editions of the Bible is not only present in the Brick Testament, but is illustrated in great detail. One finds, for example, scenes illustrating the rape of Dinah (from Gen 34:1-34), Noah's drunkenness (9:18-29), and the beheading of John the Baptist, including an image of John the Baptist's recently severed head on a platter (Mark 6:20-29; Luke 3:19-20). Thus, given Smith's illustration choices, it is hard to see the Brick Testament as a children's Bible. That said, in my judgment the Brick Testament is not unrelated to the tradition of illustrated Bibles. Because many if not most of the illustrated Bibles produced in the twentieth century are meant for children, the Brick Testament can be read as a critique of or reaction against ways in which the Bible is presented to children.
Caroline Vander Stichele, Hugh S. Pyper
Society of Biblical Literature
Dupertuis, R. R. (2012). Translating the Bible into pictures. In C. Vander Stichele & H. S. Pyper (Eds.), Text, image, and otherness in children's Bibles: What is in the picture? (pp. 271-289). Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature.
Text, Image, and Otherness in Children's Bibles: What is in the Picture?