Monday, November 10, 2008

Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament



Title: The Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament
Author/Publisher: Illuminated World
Pages: 275
Yearly Count b: 77

Background information about The Bible Illuminated:
The Bible Illuminated started out in Sweden, where it was first published in 2007, it was recently published in the US on October 28th 2008. The Bible Illuminated, The Old Testament is due out in 2009.

Brace yourself, this will be intense.

When I saw this mentioned on one of your blogs I decided I had to review it, as the Bible is a part of my everyday life. I saw the PDF format first, and I was impressed by the quality of the photos and the full colour edition of the Bible. And now that I have had my copy for almost a week I have several thoughts on it. This is not a regular review, because while I could review the Bible, I am more interested in reviewing this version or edition of The Bible Illuminated and not the text itself.

I have two takes on it (mixed feelings included), take one:

This is a beautiful rendition of the Bible, made with the intention of being more accessible to the general public, and people of all religions as it is published from the standpoint of "the Bible as literature". In saying that I believe that no time that God's word is read, does it come back without results. In God's words there is power, the power of truth and therefore if The Bible Illuminated brings His word to the unlikely places than there is power in that as well.

It is neat the way it asks the readers to find meaning in the photos. This would bring any reader to a place of interaction with the text and the photos, thus causing them to think about what is being said and how it affects them. That is good! To spread the word you have to plant seeds, and each time a curious mind opens up The Bible Illuminated, seeds will be sown.

take two:

The Bible Illuminated as much as it does have a more user friendly appeal, since there are pictures of rockstars and Hollywood beauties, it seems from knowing the intended purpose of the scripture that those very photos can be misleading, even missing the point completely. Let me explain: the publishers of The Bible Illuminated had people of all faiths read the text and put pictures together that they felt related in some way to the text. I know that if I were to be chosen to place pictures in the Koran or the Book of Mormon, without knowing its content well enough to do so I would place pictures that those who knew the books would squirm to see.

The Bible Illuminated is the Bible trying to be made more politically correct, more acceptable to the masses. And even though that would be more inclusive, that is not what the Word of God was intended for. However from the beginning it has been a text that was not acceptable, the Word of God does not blend lines together, it does not look pretty, yet in its rawness there is power.

I don't agree with blurred lines between our faiths, I do agree with treating all humans with respect, loving on them no matter who they are, but not in pretending that we all agree. I don't mind confrontation, and neither did Jesus. He was a pretty in your face man, he said what he thought even if the standards of that day were so different. Yes, He showed love, showed compassion, grace and mercy...but he never did so at the expense of the truth He proclaimed. He never washed out truth in order to make his message more acceptable, and He did not die accepted, He died the death of the condemned.





Either approach that you agree with, or if you agree with neither...this is an interesting publication of the Bible, The Bible Illuminated which I know we will be hearing about for some time.

Here are some questions and answers by the publishers, you can see their take on why they did this and what they were thinking when they did. enjoy.



What does the book look like?
It looks like a high-end magazine. “Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament” presents
the Bible as never seen before in full-color, glossy magazine format and illustrated
throughout with striking, sometimes provocative, contemporary photographs. Its meant to
be comfortable and easy to flip through and used as you would any Bible. There are no
verses and the text runs with columns and paragraphs just like in a magazine.

Why transform the Bible and not other texts of other faiths?

The Bible is something thats been around for 3,000 years. It has not only been the
source of many religions, but it is the foundation of our morals, ethics, values and our
history. Illuminated World has future plans to illuminate several translations of the Bible,
other literary works, including texts of other faiths. In early 2007, the Swedish version of
the book was successfully launched in Stockholm and now the efforts have moved to
United States to produce the first English version.

Bible Illuminated: The Book, New Testament will be available Fall 2008 and Bible
Illuminated: The Book, Old Testament in Spring 2009.

How was The Book created?

The team first tackled the project by formatting the Bible into a magazine style with
interesting images and running text instead of verses. The thinking is that this is a
format that most people are familiar with when reading. The Book was created to make
texts such as the Bible easier to pick up and read parts at a time. The hope is that
individuals can relate to, discuss and display on coffee tables or even carry in ones
pocket book. Dag Soderbeg states, “That was our inspiration – to make a version of the
Bible that people want to pick up, instead of hide away or just place on a bookshelf.”

Are any of the founders or business partners of Illuminated World religious?

There is no religious mission here. We believe that the success of The Book will be
driven by the fact that this is not coming from within any specific faith, religion or church.
We are from many faiths, backgrounds and beliefs and ultimately trying to create
something for the many and not just for the few.


What is Illuminated Worlds agenda? What is the goal in publishing The Book
and other “Illuminated” texts?

The goal is to drive an emotional reaction and get people to think, discuss and share.
Its meant to trigger bigger moral questions. It in turn will help people to understand the
common heritage between all religions through the Bibles text. We hope people will
find the images, design and layout intriguing—intriguing enough to talk about the actual
stories in the Bible and what the morals and lessons mean to them and to each other.
The more you know, the more you can participate in discussions about the world and
understand the bigger picture.


Who chose the images? And what were the criteria?

The publisher enlisted volunteers from trusted sources of different religions and faiths to
help pull out quotes that made sense to illuminate or call out within The Book. The
group then put together a design team focused on designing a layout with striking,
stunning, even provocative, images alongside the historical text and quotes.

What do the highlighted passages and sentences mean?

Whatever the readers wants them to mean. They were highlighted and underlined for
the reader to decide.



Who is Illuminated World trying to reach?

This book is meant to be for anyone and everyone. It is for people who currently own a
Bible but never read it, people who dont own a Bible or would never even consider
picking it up, as well as people who currently read or use the Bible, but would be
fascinated by this new, innovative design.
What should people do with The Book?

Share it, use it, and display it. We want people to flip through the pages and find
something that they relate to, whether its an image of a war-torn soldier or homeless
person, maybe a celebrity or an endangered animal—or maybe its a certain passage
paired with a powerful image that resonates with them for their own personal reason.
Its meant to be shared, carried on the subway or perhaps even read in the loo. Why
not?

What reaction is Illuminated World trying to get from the general public?

All reactions are welcome, from positive to negative. The publisher wants people to
respond honestly and, hopefully, embrace the concept and be open with the fact that its
meant to be a conversation piece…. And to get people talking to one another about their
own faiths, beliefs, etc.

What was Dag Soderberg doing before The Book project?

Dag owned an advertising agency that he eventually sold to one of the largest
international advertising networks in 1998. His former clients included Pioneer, Bjorn
Borg, Ericsson, Air France and Citroen among others – much of what he oversaw was
branding and marketing communications. He then began serving as an advisor and
board member to companies specializing in communications, leadership and marketing.


Have you read this book? Have you read the regular Bible? How do you feel about people blending the lines of faiths?

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13 comments:

Jen - devourer of books said...

I haven't spent a lot of time with The Bible Illuminated as I'm not reviewing it, but one of the girls in my office IS reviewing it and I've flipped through it. Overall I'd agree with your two takes on it. We were definitely a little concerned by how some of the scripture was decontextualized (hello, a small boy pointing a gun at you for the passage "I come not to bring peace..."!) but on the other hand it was definitely engaging.

Ronda's Rants said...

I have to see this...I haven't read anything about it until now! I just finished Eugene Peterson's Eat this Book about spiritual reading of the bible. I wonder what he would think of it! It seems odd to me that they would pick people of different faiths to pick pictures to go with text...I wouldn't be able to pick pictures for the Koran as I am not familiar with what the words would mean! So....I agree with you.

Dar said...

Great review of this Bethany. I'd love to see a copy and I probably will buy it. I guess I agree with anything that brings the word of God to people, not all that sure about pictures of celebritries and such but if it does spread the word or get people to read, that's good. I have many Bibles but one favorite-just a normal well read one, no pictures-just the word but then I can read it and understand it and love it. I hope this Bible may do so for others. Either way I'm curious about it.

Alyce said...

I haven't seen the book in person, but I have read several reviews. That has been enough for me to know that this book is not for me. I think the pictures are there for shock value, and have a hard time seeing how they would relate to the text. If it helps someone read the Bible for the first time then I guess that's good, but I won't be buying this book.

bethany said...

jen- thanks for that insight...yes the pictures seem misplaced and awkward. It is pretty odd. But if you look at why they are writing it, it is not for those who know the bible, but those who don't. That brings up problems in itself, when people who don't know the Bible are given this to start off, it seems they are being missguided.

For me especially the messengers part got to me, where Angelina, Bono, and Bill Gates are included as messengers of God for their good works for mankind. In the Bible is says that is is not by works, so that no one should be his own glory! Okay, I will tone it back down :) It is hard to speak dispassionately about something that has always inspired passion in me.

Ronda- Yeah, their take is a literary take. They want to show how all faiths are similar, and how the Bible is the base for many faiths. However, I still know that no matter what their intentions, the Word of God has life in itself, and no one can impede it's power.

Yes, I agree on the people of different faiths, things taken out of context is really the final product. All inclusiveness is the illusion of humans who think they can wander without opinions.

dar- yes I do think that is great, strike up conversations, get the Word to the people, bring light. But to say that Angelina Jolie is a messenger of God, or Bill Gates...they are then under the conclusion that anyone who does works is good. I believe the opposite, no one is good, we can all do good, it is only through Christ that we are forgiven, not by being good.

I too have a Bible that is my favourite. It is falling apart, the cover hardly connected anymore. I am so excited, there is a little place in town that covers books in thick leather...that is what I am getting for Christmas, I am getting it recovered!!!! I can't wait.

Alyce- If you are someone who has the Bible, who loves it the way that it is and embraces that it is the Word of God, this Bible Illustrated would be fun to look at once, but I find myself looking at it with a skeptical eye, therefore my regular worn copy is way better for me to read!

Dar said...

Bethany, that is the perfect gift!

Trish said...

I have been very curious about this one--especially as you don't see a lot of religious text grace the book blogosphere. I'm interested in picking this one up to look at it and see what its all about, but does seem more like Bible as literature than Bible as word of God. Hmmm...

Corinne said...

I think it's a great review Bethany - and here's why: I think you are being honest about a text that you feel very strongly about, as do I. I especially like this comment you made:

But if you look at why they are writing it, it is not for those who know the bible, but those who don't. That brings up problems in itself, when people who don't know the Bible are given this to start off, it seems they are being missguided.

And I agree with you. I guess what I liked most is at least it put God's words into the hands of someone who maybe never would have had them before. I think the pictures of celebrities and such ARE out of place - my only thought is that if you put a picture of a celebrity next to a child starving in Africa, it's an interesting juxtaposition that BOTH of those people are children of God, with the same divine nature, BOTH of them entitled to forgiveness through Christ's atonement. You know? How much harder is it to be humble and accept his sacrifice when life is easy and money plentiful? Anyway, rambling thoughts. Thanks for your review :) You're a star :)

Veens said...

I don't agree with blurred lines between our faiths, I do agree with treating all humans with respect, loving on them no matter who they are, but not in pretending that we all agree. I don't mind confrontation, and neither did Jesus. He was a pretty in your face man, he said what he thought even if the standards of that day were so different. Yes, He showed love, showed compassion, grace and mercy...but he never did so at the expense of the truth He proclaimed. He never washed out truth in order to make his message more acceptable, and He did not die accepted, He died the death of the condemned.

AWESOME LINES!
This is similar to the way I feel... ! Not about Jesus of course...but the guiding light that lights our ways!

I won't say I would really really understand all the true sense of this book - mebbe never - because I have never myself read the Bible... but I think it is not wrong to try to showcase something different.

I saw a couple of Images on the net...nothing was bad or unacceptable yet :)

Joe D'Angelo said...

The Bible Illuminated as much as it does have a more user friendly appeal, since there are pictures of rockstars and Hollywood beauties, it seems from knowing the intended purpose of the scripture that those very photos can be misleading, even missing the point completely.

I'd say you're mostly spot on. Having ANY photos of your own choosing given captions from the Bible allows you to dictate a bit of what the passages mean -- even if you mean well.

But, from having leafed through this Bible in Borders the other day, I'm no so sure I agree with the comment on rock stars and Hollywood beauties... from what I saw, Bono and Angelina Jolie in there as humanitarians, and in a section separate from between books specifically about humanitarianism in our time. I think this inclusion -- apart from the text but still celebrating its message -- is commendable.

But yes, some of the other photos I remember thinking of as a bit misleading. (Gah, I can't remember which ones, and they don't seem to be up on bibleilluminated.com yet.)

Mike said...

@Joe D'Angelo

I feel like the pairings in the book were well thought out and don't editorialize in ways I'm uncomfortable with. I was looking further into the book and I found that they have a Flickr community called Illuminate Your World that allows users to pair their own images with bible text. On the other hand, I'm not so sure how I feel about that. Do you guys have any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I've seen Bible Illuminated, and I think it's beautiful and the idea behind it is fantastic. It makes the Bible so much more accessible to everyday people. Who cares that it has ONE picture of Angelina Jolie in it?

Raffi Shahinian said...

Thanks for this. I really appreciate your perspective. I've also put in my 2 cents about the project, for anyone who may be interested.

Grace and Peace,
Raffi