What is this?

Description of the project

This is what we like to call a Visual Translation of the Biblical account of David–it’s sort of a graphic novel meets word-for-word exposition of the stories of the Bible. So what does that mean? We are letting the words of the scripture be our literal script for creating a type of graphic novel that amplifies the details of Biblical stories all the while creating a visually exciting experience for the reader.

The intention is to not be an adaptation–where plot, events and dialogue might be changed or added–instead, it is trying to stick as close to the Biblical text as possible. So that what you see in images will go closely along with what you read in the actual written word.

And with that we bring you The David Story–A Visual Translation covering 1 Samuel 15 through 1 Kings 2.

Although, it is our goal to visually translate the entire Bible (and we plan on working on this for years to come) we decided to tackle some of the major stories of the Bible first (based on the One Big Story poster), starting with one of the parts of the Bible we are most enamored with–the life of David.

This project has been on our minds for a few years now, and we’ve been praying a lot about how to make it happen. It seems the Lord is affording us the time in this season, and we hope that He would afford us the funds through the body of believers that are His in this world.

For what reason?

There are three main reasons, really. First, we think there is a richness and depth to the details of the Biblical accounts that we would love to capture and bring out in a visual format. The Bible is the most-read book of all time, and for good reason. There are some amazing stories within the contents of this library of books we call the Bible and we want to see them come alive in narrative-illustration.

Our goal with this project is to depict David’s life, accurately and elaborately, to whet an appetite for the scriptures, where the Bible may currently be considered flavorless and void of nutrition. It is our belief that the scriptures are richly satisfying, and profitable at every level.

Second, and let’s face it, folks aren’t reading the Bible like we used to. As a society we have grown unfamiliar with the stories from the Bible that once thrived in every home throughout America. We hope to help battle Biblical-illiteracy and bring back to the public knowledge these timeless accounts.

Biblical-illiteracy is a rampant problem in the church today. We have Christians that quote slogans and Christian songs, more than they quote verses and accounts from the scriptures. Our Christian culture tells isolated stories in our Sunday schools, without accounting for the events that link these stories together. How did we get from Adam to Noah to Moses to David to Jesus? Everyone knows the major characters and events, but they’re so disjointed, and even sometimes seem unrelated to one another.

This article explains a lot of where we’re coming from:

Martin Luther saw this problem in the church in the early 16th Century. People were trying to follow Jesus, but they were ignorant of the scriptures. His solution was to translate the Bible into the language of his culture, to make it more accessible to those that were genuinely seeking.

We’re no Martin Luthers, but we see that our visual culture doesn’t have a good Bible in it’s language. This generation needs an accurate visual translation, to make the scriptures more accessible.

And finally, we are wanting to create an educational tool that speaks to our current and future cultures. We live in a world that is increasingly dependent on visual media where communication through images is overtaking the written word. We see a Visual Translation of the Bible becoming more of a necessity as time and technology progress.

What makes this project unique?

We’ve seen a lot of attempts at depicting the accounts of the Bible. It seems that a lot of illustrators inaccurately (and sometimes lazily) either Romanize or Anglicize the accounts. Also, there seems to be a lot of adaptation that happens, and so the reader gets the artists’ often-flawed interpretation. Some are better than others, but we’ve never seen one that really accomplishes what we intend to do.

We are very concerned with accuracy. To the best of our ability, we intend to depict the Biblical accounts as veraciously as we can. Unfortunately, the time period that we’re depicting (around 1000 B.C.) has very little extant resources for us to draw from. We will take some creative license, where we feel that we need to, but we’ll have researched into the cultures (clothing, tools, armor, weaponry, etc.) as much as we can afford, to be sure to depict things as authentically as possible.

Additionally, we have decided not to adapt the text at all, but rather keep the scripture entirely intact throughout the books. We want to let it dictate the illustrations, with the hope that we would avoid too many controversies that arise when people eisegete their interpretations, or impose a meaning that was not originally present in the text.

We’ve found a translation of the scriptures that is in the Public Domain (meaning we don’t have to pay to use it). To our understanding, it is a formal equivalence translation (similar to the ESV, NASB, and the NKJV), and so is good for serious Bible study.

Who is this for?

We’re aiming this project at middle school and high school aged boys. While we hope that it would appeal to others as well, we are convinced that this demographic is largely unreached in the church right now. In the documentary, Divided, the filmmaker talks about this demographic being very prone to leaving the church after graduating, because of poor biblical foundations.

There’s some dark and dirty stuff in the accounts. How will violence and sexuality be handled?

The Bible records sin. We don’t think that depicting sin is intrinsically wrong. At the same time, we don’t want it to incite temptation either.

“Yahweh examines the righteous, but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5 WEB)

We understand that our target audience is full of young men who glory in violence. We believe that there are ways of depicting violence that make it detestable, and ways that make it tantalizing. There seems to be an obvious difference between the violence in the movie 300, and the violence in the movie Saving Private Ryan.

We don’t actually intend to be even so graphic, though. We’ve discussed keeping our depictions to what might be considered a PG movie rating, where the violence would be implied as much as possible, and non-gratuitous. In some situations, we anticipate some depictions that may be necessary though. For example, 1 Samuel 17:50 records David cutting off Goliath’s head. We’re discussing how to handle the depiction of this event in a way that doesn’t censor the scriptures, but also that doesn’t entice our audience to love violence.

Similarly, in depicting David’s sin with Bathsheeba, we intend to make the point that she was very beautiful, without inciting lust in our audience. We’re discussing how to depict her bathing, without being pornographic or gratuitous.