Updated: Feb 24
Think back to your earliest encounter with a biblical story. Not the Bible – a biblical story. Because chances are, whether or not you grew up in some sort of believing community, your first intelligible encounter with a biblical story didn't actually happen while reading the Bible. Chances are it happened through Bible Art, through an adaptation of the Bible into another form of art or media.
Maybe your religious grandmother bought you an illustrated children's storybook “Bible” in hopes of converting you at a young age. Maybe you sat down one Saturday and watched French blueberries act out the story of Jericho. Or maybe you got dragged to church by your parents every Sunday and regularly found yourself surrounded by a complex array of stained glass, hymns, bulletin cartoons, and other forms of visual and aural storytelling. However it happened, you encountered the Bible – without actually encountering the Bible. Yes, you came into contact with the Bible's imaginative world and the core concept of its narratives, but that contact was mediated by a go-between, an intermediary, through what we might even call a “witness.” It took place in and through Bible Art.
I can hardly overstate how important
Bible Art has been in my faith...
I can hardly overstate how important Bible Art has been in my faith – it was literally the tool that God used to convert me. Growing up my mental picture of God was that of a distant and unloving judge who I had to please in order to get into heaven. Then I saw the brutal sufferings of Jesus depicted vividly in a Bible movie, and it came home to me: Jesus went through all of this for me. If that’s how much he loved me and if that’s what he went through, surely it was enough for me to be forgiven! Ultimately, of course, it was the Holy Spirit who opened my eyes to see that truth, but Bible Art was the tool that he used.
But Bible Art didn’t just help “convert” my soul – it also converted my imagination. At a fairly young age, I made the switch from merely consuming Bible Art to actually producing it. I was a kid who always kept himself busy brainstorming new story ideas, and, somewhere along the line, I got into a pattern of reimagining popular biblical stories: sketches & poems equating Jesus & Atlas, the book of Judges played out as a sci-fi epic, an alternate history in which Jesus didn’t come until modern day, Bible movies playing out the books of Job & Jonah in the life of a high school kid. Now I’ll be honest: none of these works was nearly as revolutionary as teenage Kevin thought. But you know what they were? A compelling motivation that drove me to deepen my biblical literacy and to identify imaginatively with the biblical characters. Creating my own Bible Art drove me to know and reflect on the Bible far more than any Bible Study or talk at Youth group. It allowed me to absorb the Bible into the deepest parts of myself and make it my own.
As I’ve grown older, my love for Bible Art and Bible Adaptation has only increased. I’ve dedicated the past several years to understanding the practice and promise that it holds for spiritual growth, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned. As a Poet who recently completed a full-length adaptation of the Gospel of John into verse (you can already listen to a sample), I want to share my insights into how to make Bible Art beautiful. As a Youth Leader and Educator, I also want to share about how students can create their own Bible Art and increase their biblical literacy through the process of Project-Based Learning. I believe Bible Art has so much to offer – to Artists, to Youth, to the Church, to Skeptics – and so I want to invite you to join me exploring and utilizing this powerful mode of biblical engagement.
By Original uploader was Ilse(a) at nl.wikipedia - Transferred from nl.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3511616