The Bible as Manga

Just read in the New York Times that Doubleday is releasing a graphic novel (or manga) of the Bible.  Entitled The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation, this Bible is designed to introduce teens and tweens (the manga obsessed ones, at least) to the Word of God.  While I am all about reaching unchurched students with God’s Word, I am sad to hear that the text itself is being compromised.  From the Times’ article:

The medium shapes the message. Manga often focuses on action and epic. Much of the Bible, as a result, ends up on the cutting room floor, and what remains is darker.

 The article’s author (Neela Banerjee) goes on to explain how the Manga Bible modifies Biblical stories to give them the graphic novel feel.  Battles and action sequences are more dramatic, while laws, wisdom, and teaching sections are removed.  Here is a sad quote from the article:

The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it.

I remember way back in elementary Sunday School receiving each week a short cartoon depicting a Biblical scene.   This introduced me to the Bible stories in bite-size chunks.  This graphic novel is a similar idea for modern students.  I could see the Manga Bible being marketed as an overview of the Biblical story.  However, I do take issue with it being marketed as a Bible.   With a majority of the Biblical text not included, this graphic novel gives the reader a false impression.  If it were being pushed as a companion to the Bible, then I think this would be a powerful tool to reach today’s students.  I can still see using this in a youth ministry setting, so long as it does not replace one’s Bible.

Update: Zondervan is releasing their own Christian graphic novels (Big Z calls them “Biblical Epics”).  Each works through a book of the Bible, yet they are not being marketed as Bibles.


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