By Chris Eyte (amended)
Unless you frequent Christian bookstores though, you might not be aware that there are a whole lot of Bibles in pictures – apart from classic children's Bibles.
Even if you are not a Bible reader, you will probably be aware that there are many different versions of the Christian Bible – varying very little in meaning but differing in language and strictness of translation (some translating word-for-word and some translating thought-for-thought, in more natural language for the modern reader).
Unless you frequent Christian bookstores though, you might not be aware that there are also a whole lot of Bibles in pictures – apart from classic children's Bibles.
For instance, there is a Lego Bible, depicting the stories in Lego figures, and the Minecraft Bible. *These are accessible to kids and adults alike. There is also a Manga Bible in the Japanese art style. These Bibles have fewer words and focus on the narrative parts of the Bible to tell the story of God. How He made all things good, how people rebelled against Him, and how He has spent the rest of human history calling us back to Himself, and making a way for our forgiveness through the vicarious death of Jesus on the cross.
Now comic book artist Simon Amadeus Pillario from Bristol England, has begun to draw an illustrated Bible with a difference. The Word for Word Bible Comic does not change the words of the original, or leave out any text. Using the World English Bible translation, it includes every verse but cleverly uses speech bubbles and the margins of the cartoons to make it punchy and easier to read.
Simon also doesn't put in any extra words, except for sound effects. This is the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible, just as a comic.
With the drawings, Simon has been just as careful with accuracy. His comics are based on historically accurate places, styles of dress, and artefacts, with care taken that they don't imply more or anything other than the words of the Bible do.
Simon, now 37, came to believe in the words of this sacred text in his twenties. Before that he didn't think much about religion and believed he was a 'good person' – which for most of us means just 'not as bad as the next guy'.
Up to this point "I didn't think lying, cheating, film piracy and things like that were a big deal", the artist recalls.
His assumptions about himself were challenged when he did a well-known introduction to Christianity course called Alpha through his local church, in 2005. He hoped it would straighten out "what little I knew about Christianity from Sunday school" when he was a boy.
The highlight of Alpha was a weekend that focused on how the invisible presence of God, called the Holy Spirit, comes to live within Christians to empower them to change.
Simon recalls: "The leaders of Alpha invited us to stand and ask God to fill us with His Spirit. I stood and thought, 'Well, here I am doing it. God, if you are real and I can experience you like these people say I can, I guess now is the time.'
"Then I had a powerful encounter with God, which turned my life around and I became a committed Christian. I'd recommend the Alpha course to anyone who wants to know about God, Christianity and more, no matter how much or how little you already know about it."
Simon says the decision to live for God has totally transformed his life. The realisation grew that he needed to make better choices in life and "rely on God for provision, not my own craftiness".
When Simon read the Bible he found complex adult themes in books such as Samuel and Kings, which he thought would be more accessible if presented visually.
"I realised that if there was no film or TV show of the Bible, and if preachers didn't preach on these passages, there is no way that I, nor people like me, will ever hear these stories unless they pick up an actual 2,000 page plain text Bible and read it for themselves.
"I thought, 'Someone should make a comic which has every word included'. It was only a short time later that I felt God saying: 'Yes... you!'"
So far, Simon has produced comics of the Bible books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Esther and Mark, with more to come. While they are not suitable for younger children due to the bloody violence, adult themes and alcohol use, there is no explicit nudity and sex, and each book has a helpful age rating.