Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: The Kingstone Bible : Volume 4 : The Judges

The Kingstone Bible : Volume 4 : Judges
From Kingstone Media

*PLEASE NOTE: I received a hardcopy of this book to review for the publisher.

Bottom line: I am torn regarding The Kingstone Bible : Volume 4. The weakest entry in the anthology thus far, this graphic novel is a rough read, and I am unsure if that is inherently due to the content or to the execution. One can go through the book quickly, but it is not a pleasant experience. Of course, given that this is a lawless era of Israel's history, perhaps discomfort is the point. You see why I'm torn.

Kingstone pays close attention to their interpretation of the text and as such limits their creative freedom. I believe the book conveys what is presented in the Holy Scripture, which is admirable, but the translation suffers because it does not present more contextualization (which i believe they did to great affect in their adaptation of Genesis).

If nothing else, this book shows Israel’s folly and the horrendous immorality of the ancient world. Between the injustices of the rulers and the harsh mistreatment of women, one can see why God would have placed his chosen people in the geographical location that he did; the great tragedy of Israel’s history is that they fell into the culture rather than changing it.

The Book of Judges almost serves as a microcosmic picture of Israel (and, arguably, the church) as wayward followers. Things go well; God’s people reject him; as life gets worse, they return. When they do, he delivers them, and once it gets good again, they forget. I’ve seen this narrative repeat itself in history as well as in my own life. To see it in such detail on the comic page is difficult.

But it’s not just Israel’s nameless masses or the surrounding enemies that are the problem. Judges is a book of failures and antiheroes. To his credit, writer Art Ayris in no way attempts to put a spin on the multiple protoganists that Judges provides in order to make them Westernized heroes. They are all essentially as foolish and, at times, immoral as any of their enemies, but God uses them for his purposes in spite of their weakness.

This is why the books is so unpleasant; the stories of Judges take place in a sort of outlaw frontier, and none of the characters fit the Western model of hero. In fact, some of the stories are merely displays of the horror among those who clearly reject Jehovah and his law.

Again, The Kingstone Bible: Volume 4: Judges suffers from the narrative problems inherent in any direct interpretation of the original Scripture. The book is confusing, and the characters difficult to engage. This shows interpretive integrity but lacks creative license one might expect or desire to make the book more palatable in the comic medium. The experience is uneven but poignant; and as I said, that may be the reason the book exists. 

The Kingstone Bible: Volume 4: Judges is now on

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