Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Manga Bible

Following a trend we've already mentioned with Tyndale House's Manga Messiah and Manga Bible, Doubleday has also released a graphic novel, The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation. The New York Times profile of the book and author includes reactions from academics, including this:

“It is the end of the Word as we know it, and the end of a certain cultural idea of the Scriptures as a book, as the Book,” Timothy Beal, professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University, said of the reworking of the Bible in new forms, including manga. “It opens up new ways of understanding Scripture and ends up breaking the idols a bit.”

That opinion sounds distinctly odd, given the long tradition of illuminating Bibles, including entirely graphic "Pauper's Bibles," from the Middle Ages on, and more recent illustrated children's Bibles (usually heavily edited and paraphrased), not to mention renderings of biblical stories in art, drama and film. I find nothing new in this development except for the employment of a new artistic style. Outside the studies of some theologians, publishing and using Bibles has rarely been just about words, as the article's short history of Bible publishing demonstrates. Its divergent contents reveal the gap between much academic thinking about writing and books on the one hand, and the material reality of their production, sale and use on the other.
(Thanks to Andrew for the tip.)

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