October 17, 2017

R. Crumb’s Book Of Genesis Reviewed

Genesis is a source of children’s stories, a favorite among Sunday school curriculum writers. And what is there not to like? There are animals and boats and rainbows. There is a man with a fancy robe made with lots of bright colors. There is a garden where everyone is happy and safe. And there is a kind, gentle God watching over us all.

And then there is the real Genesis.

R. Crumb (Robert Dennis Crumb is his full name) is a comic book illustrator of some fame. “Some fame” as in one of the most famous, or infamous, depending on how you look at it. He came up with the character for the first rated X animated movie, if that tells you anything. So just what is he doing illustrating a book of the Bible, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb? And why are we giving it the coveted “recommended” review?

What Crumb’s deepest intents were in illustrating Genesis are known only to him and the Lord. What he has created, however, is sure to disturb many who have domesticated the book of Genesis in order to make it palatable to all.

Think for a moment about some of the scenes we read in Genesis. Murder. Rape. Incest. Homosexuality. All of the people in the world, save for one family and a handful of animals, drowning. Drunkenness. Revenge. Deceit and trickery. Violence and evil. And lots and lots of sex. How is it we have reduced these events to sweet, furry animals on sheets to be colored by children in their classes in church on Sunday mornings? What have we missed in removing the real world of the earliest people of God?

The key here is the word “real.” That is the overwhelming feel I got reading Crumb’s Genesis. This is not a sanitized fantasy world. This is not the Disney version of life. Very real-looking men and women are shown doing very real-looking acts, both good and bad. Crumb’s style brings a rough-hewn feel to each scene. You get the idea that this was a rough world where real people had to deal with some really bad stuff. For instance, the men of Sodom who come to Lot’s door demanding to have the two strangers handed over to them look very much like men bent on doing whatever they will, no matter the consequences. And when we see Lot in front of them saying, “Look, I have two daughters who have known no man! Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them however you please!” we find ourselves thinking, What kind of father is Lot that he could even think such a thing? This whole scene takes on a new level of realness through the illustrations, a chilling reality that makes me think, How would I have reacted? How do I react to evil that comes to my door now?

Crumb has included every verse in all 50 chapters of Genesis. He uses primarily the King James Version and Robert Alter’s translation found in The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. Crumb explains his approach to the text:

In a few places I ventured to do a little interpretation of my own, if I thought the words could be made clearer, but I refrained from indulging too often in such “creativity,” and sometimes let it stand in its convoluted vagueness rather than monkey around with such a venerable text. Every other comic book version of the Bible that I’ve seen contains passages of completely made-up narrative and dialogue, in an attempt to streamline and “modernize” the old scriptures, and still, these various comic book Bibles all claim to adhere to the belief that the Bible is “the word of God,” or “inspired by God,” whereas I, ironically, do not believe the Bible is the “word of God.” I believe it is the words of men. It is, nonetheless, a powerful text with layers of meaning that reach deep into our collective consciousness…

So Crumb, not taking the Bible as the inspired word of God, still manages to bring to life the people, lands and events of Genesis in a way that helps those who do see it as inspired of God appreciate just how hard life was then and how great God is among the lives of these early people. Somehow, seeing Genesis illustrated as such helps me to believe God will be with me in my roughest and most real hard times. The fluffy Sunday-school god is not one I can count on when my day is black-and-white and bad all over. God, the God who knows Himself, only comes to us in reality. And Crumb’s Genesis helps us to picture what that reality was then, and how God can and will be real for us still today.

A word of caution: This is not a book for children. There are illustrations that are not suitable for those under the age of 12, perhaps even 14. Parents should read through the entire book and then decide when their children should be allowed to read it. It is shocking and disturbing at times—just like real life.

Recommended (with cautious reservations).

Comments

  1. This may not quite work out, though the intent is good.

    First, it will introduce to children a God who kills men, women and children. Second, the parents will have to explain that the men of Sodom were doing something that was considered bad in the bible, but is acceptable today. And Lot was willing to turn his own children over the crowd. Third, there is the child-sacrifice that God calls Abraham to do.

    After reading this, the children are going to say, “Mommy, let’s not go to church or believe in God. Hes bad.” At that point, the parents say that those things never happened and they’re just stories.

    As the children go to bed, the parents say, “Remember that the word Evangelical begins with the same two letters as the word Evil, which is why they believe in those stories.” (jn)

    • The God of Genesis IS a God who kills men, women, and children. Parents should have to explain that God somehow to children if that is the God they expect their children to grow up following–or explain why the God of Genesis ISN’T the same God they, the parents, are preaching and why the paradox between the two. Certainly if Genesis stories are going to be taught to children in any form, it should be as rough and real as the stories actually are—not prettied up to salve our own consciences. If we can’t reconcile the genocide, rapine, and assorted horrifying Acts of God with the Santa Claus God we seem to prefer to teach to children, then maybe we had better rethink who our God is. Or rethink our literal interpretation of Genesis.

    • One Christian said to me that she knows the God she wants to worship and the God of the OT is not God. That makes sense. If Genesis, and the OT, does not reveal the God a Christian is looking for, then the OT can’t be literal. The God talked about by Jesus in the gospels is not the same God of the OT or even the rest of the NT.

      • Damaris says:

        How then — and why then — should we read the OT? What do people think? Yes, I know this is off the topic. It might make a good discussion post.

        • This is very much on topic, and I hope others will respond as Damaris asks. If not, I will have to write a full essay on the Great I AM, the God Who Knows Himself. (“If you can wrap your arms around God, it isn’t God.”–Anne Lamont)

      • Good question and I don’t have an answer. As far as I am concerned, the OT does not truly offer anything of substance. Jesus claimed to have fulfilled the OT and to me that means rendering it obsolete. Genocide, rape, incest, monarchs, and God’s wrath have NOTHING to do with Jesus. I guess it could be used as an “or else” scare tactic, as in if Jesus had not died on the cross, this is what the world would be like. That, though, sounds like sinners in the hands of an angry God stuff and that has only destroyed people’s faith.

        • Wow. Don’t know where to begin with this. I cannot give an good response in the small space reserved for comments. Let’s just say that one must now read the OT through the lens of the resurrected Christ in order to understand it. When we do that, it comes to life in an incredible way. Otherwise, it is like watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses. But we cannot dismiss the OT–it is part of our canon of Scripture for a very good reason.

          • I completely agree. The OT is actually a very nuanced and complex anthology that cannot be simply distilled into a few sentences. To just say the OT is all about God’s wrath and his violence and anger against mankind is a gross generalization.

            The same could be said of the NT and Jesus. To simply say all of it merely boils down to love, compassion, and kumbaya would be a gross simplification.

        • cermak_rd says:

          I suppose for me, a Jew, it’s different. I see a Divine pictured as vindictive and capricious in much of the Torah and Haftorah only because he is reflected through words set down by capricious and vindictive people. Unlike in Islam, Judaism doesn’t believe that our Scriptures were breathed by the Almighty as the Muslims do. This leaves some latitude to understanding just what was meant by the stories found in it.

          • Umm…do you mean to say Jews don’t believe that the Torah is given to man by God? I find that highly doubtful…

          • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

            Shoot, the traditional Orthodox interpretation in Judaism is that God directly dictated the Torah to Moses, including the scene with Moses’ own death! A less literal way of looking at it may be common in your synagogue or in the circles you travel in, but the Sages’ are pretty clear on the traditional teaching and there are a lot of Orthodox Jews who believe the traditional teaching.

        • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

          Well, MWPeak, that’s certainly not a new position on the OT. Indeed, under Marcion it became very widespread in the early 2nd Century. One of the things the led to the early Church beginning to officially delineate the Canon of Scripture was battling Marcion’s views.

          I certainly accept the traditional Canon (though I’m still undecided about the dueterocanonicals/apocrypha). The way I see the OT is through the lens of the metanarrative of the Covenant. I.e. from Genesis to Revelation we have an overarching story of God’s redemption of fallen creation through the establishment of a people through whom that redemption is to take place. In the OT, that dealt with a particular family and their descendants. In the NT, the family borders are significantly expanded as Jesus fulfills the role of Messiah (representative of both Israel and God). Nonetheless, the concept we see in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles indicates a continuation of that Covenant (with some new dimensions, as happens each time the Covenant is renewed) rather than the abrogation of the Covenant to establish something completely different.

          I think seeing the continuity in our sacred texts is greatly helped by that “big picture” perspective. The logical corollary is that Jesus must inform and transform our views of the OT, like Jeff said.

        • Cedric Klein says:

          Genocide, rape, incest, monarchs and God’s wrath have EVERYTHING to do with Jesus. It was the History which led up to Him and that He enveleped into Himself. Jesus died on the cross and this is what the world IS like. Jesus was not ashamed to call The Old Testament YHWH “Abba” and if we are, the fault is in ourselves, not in YHWH. The worst fault in ourselves- to count ourselves as more civilized & holier than YHWH. Fulfilling the OT does not make it obsolete, it makes it more relevant than ever. It is the reality that most of the non-Christianized world and much of the Christianized world deals with every day. The OT gives us life as it is; The NT as it should be & can become, and even the NT Possible Ideal World is not the CandyLand we’d like it to be- it’s a World whose Constitution is engraved into the Torn Flesh & Shed Blood of Jesus and energized with the Fire of the Holy Spirit, Which is the Same GodFire which kindles Gehenna,

          • Thank you, Obed and Cedric. Perfectly put. Everyone please read their comments again. And then again. And then one more time. Thank you.

        • My argument for the OT being obsolete stems from what is important in the search for God. In the OT, we see God committing henous and cruel acts of evil, a view of God that is not in line with the view of God that Jesus presented. To accept a violent view of God is to accept violence in our daily lives (common in fundamentalist Christianity, which is why fundamentalists are historically violent). It is Jesus’ view of a humble, peaceful God that calls for a counter to violence and exploitation in the world.

          Being a disciple of Jesus requires only a willingness to read, learn and trust in the teachings of Jesus preserved in the gospels. Most of the remaining material that is included in “the cannon” is optional. Jesus presents God as loving, forgiving, and desiring of people to be free of the burdens placed on them by others (violence and exploitation) while the OT, apocalyptic literature and even parts of Pauline espistles all present this horrible, violent view of God that is completely at odds with the idea of a loving Father and I believe has more to do with people’s desire for wrath and vengeance than God’s.

          It is my belief that the influences of OT views of God made their way into the gospel writings (as the writers were Jewish) and threaten to make God out to be different than what Jesus revealed him to be, presenting conflicting views.

          • Cedric Klein says:

            Please seriously read each Gospel about three times- and list every time Jesus cites the Old Testament or makes a comment about Divine Judgment, either temporary or eternal. List every time Jesus says or does something that doesn’t quite fit your “humble, peaceful God” box. See how often these instances show up & really examine what needs correcting the entire picture of Jesus given in The Gospels or the truncated picture of Jesus that you’ve presented.

      • “One Christian said to me that she knows the God she wants to worship and the God of the OT is not God. That makes sense.”

        Wait, what makes sense there?

        • It makes sense in that I’ll be damned before I worship the God of the OT as presented in literal technicolor in my fundy Evangelical childhood. That God is no better and often a lot worse than the headliners of the Interpol Most Wanted List and no one suggests any of them are worth adulation.

  2. dumb ox says:

    Genesis can be a really embarassing book. It is real stuff. It makes God’s grace all that more profound and unexpected.

    But………………………………………………………..

    Is it necessary to illustrate the sinful acts? Genesis is a book of the law, and we know from Romans and Galatians the purpose of law. Law really doesn’t need racey full-frontal illustrations to embolden our sinful natures.

    Perhaps Christians, nudity, and art could be a future discussion.

  3. Hi Jeff,

    Conflicted is the first word that comes to mind reading your review…not quite troubled, not quite enthusiastic…conflicted.

    Must be the remnants of my feisty fundamentalist upbringing.
    Brad

    • I am conflicted as well. I would prefer cupcakes and butterflies to tell you the truth. But an honest reading of Genesis–or any of the Bible–shows a world in conflict with God. Because of that, it is a rough and rowdy place to live. Crumb is not making up an immoral world. He is simply illustrating the immorality that is reported in Genesis. The fact that we don’t like to look at it does not mean it didn’t happen, or that it doesn’t exist yet today.

      Even we recovering feisty fundamentalists must admit that!

      • Damaris says:

        I’m with you on the cupcakes and butterflies, but there is a difference between saying “sodomy” and illustrating sodomy. Maybe there shouldn’t be, but there is. The first is a statement, the second is pornography. I’m confident there’s a middle ground between Precious Moments and R. Crumb, and that it is the Bible itself. I’ll be interested to see the effect this book has on the wider culture, but I don’t think I’ll buy it myself.

        • Fortunately, no acts of sodomy are illustrated…

        • Thank you for clarifying that, Jeff. I have to admit that the statement “There are illustrations that are not suitable for those under the age of 12, perhaps even 14” made me wonder what that entailed (I was guessing something violent, as I doubted you would have been that gentle in describing depictions of sex acts). But I wasn’t sure …

          I think a number of posters are already making assumptions about what this book contains, based on conjecture, supposition or nothing at all. It’s usually not safe to assume, doubly so when people of the world encounter the things of God. I don’t know that I’ll hunt this book down, but if I run into it in my local B&N, I’ll take a look and only then make a decision as to its veracity.

          • Damaris says:

            You’re right to keep an open mind, but I’d like to be assured that R. Crumb has changed substantially in the last 40 years. My assumptions are based on his past work, which was correctly rated X, but Jeff has seen the book itself and should be trusted. It may be that Crumb has benefited from a close study of Genesis.

          • There are sex acts portrayed, although I would not call the illustrations pornographic. Graphic, but not porn. That is why it is not recommended for the younger ones. Yes, pull it off the shelf at your local store. That’s what I did at first. I read the whole thing at Borders one evening. Took about 45 minutes. I looked at it several more times at BN before ordering it from Amazon. The reason I got it is because I was struck by the fact that this is the very real God we are seeking. It may not be pretty or nice, but it is real. I don’t want to look at this level of reality all of the time, but I also don’t want to ignore it or pretent it doesn’t exist. But I washed down this volume with a healthy dose of cupcakes…

          • Quixotequest says:

            I’m reading Capon’s “Noon and Three” right now — and have been working through it for several months. He makes a point that springs to mind because of this conversation. Parables are true, he says, not because they teach us behavior we necessarily should emulate (they may lead us to be permissive, have bad labor policies, etc.) but because they reveal glimpses into God.

            This Crumb book sounds like it may be a similar kind of book — one that might cause my heart to palpitate, might make my brow furrow, might make me feel some frustration at God, even. But if it makes me more fully confront and grapple with His truth, there is virtue in that. It’s unfortunate that I’ve often allowed myself to read thru the Bible without authentically engaging that outrage.

            • The Writers’ Roundtable will review Between Noon And Three by Robert Capon in early August.

              • dubbahdee says:

                Excellent. A book that was a turning point for me.

              • JoanieD says:

                I did recently read Capon’s Between Noon and Three. I had already one of his books about the parables. There are parts of Between Noon and Three that really had me saying “Huh?” especially in the section with one guy killing another. I won’t say any more than that, since the Roundtable will be getting into it later. Except, I will say that that there are other writers that Michael Spencer liked a lot and I liked them too, but I do have some issues with Capon, mainly “personality” issues I think. I think sometimes he tries just a little too hard to be…cute. I would like more focus on Jesus and less on Capon. I didn’t find this to be as much an issue in his parable book.

          • Try your local library. Mine has copies available and I put one on hold. That way I can call it research instead of buying the book and “supporting” the author’s “godless” illustrations. Sarcasm intended!

  4. Genesis is a book of the law

    ???

    While Genesis may be one “teuch” of the Pentateuch/Torah, there is no “law” in Genesis in the sense of the Mosaic Law – which doesn’t appear until Exodus.

    In fact, the word “torah” only appears once in all of Genesis (26:5).

  5. Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

    I’m so angry I could spit. I hate, I despise it when Christians get on a marcionite rant against the OT like several commenters. All this goes to show is that they haven’t read the Old Testament.

    And then I remind myself that I used to think similar stupid things.

    Let me say a few really important things:

    1) to deny the authority and inspiration of the OT is cease to be an orthodox Christian. The OT was the only scriptures that Jesus and the early church had. We cannot escape from the fact that Jesus was a Jew, and trusted the Hebrew scriptures.

    2) One movement in recent history sought to remove the OT from the Christian tradition. And in the process, it lead to the death of millions. That movement was Naziism. The OT was forbidden in Nazi Germany as a “dirty Jew book.”

    3) One story is the central story of the OT, a story referred to and alluded to more than any other, in every genre and almost every book. It is the gospel story of the OT, the story through which all other OT stories MUST be understood. This story is the beating heart of the OT, and if you don’t understand this story as central, then you cannot understand the OT nor God. (Also very importantly: it’s the story that Jesus used to explain his death). That story is the Exodus. The beating heart of the OT is the good news story of the God who sets slaves free. All the other stories must be read in light of the Exodus.

    Let me say this as clearly as possible: if the Exodus is not central to your understanding of the OT, then you don’t understand the OT (or Jesus for that matter) and you should probably keep your mouth shut.

    End of rant. I’m not mad at the commenters who’ve said silly things. I’m pained that the church has failed so miserably to understand and teach scripture.

    • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

      Wow I was pretty angry when I wrote this. I’ve calmed down a little.

      Let me put it like this: every field, every job has some basic central things about it. Without these things you simple cannot understand this job or academic field. Frustratingly, some of these central things are assumed, so no one ever tells you that there are central, everybody just knows.

      So in my view, the exodus is something basic and central to the OT. Even if no one has ever said it.

      Understanding the OT without the Exodus as central is like trying to understand:
      -economics without having a concept of money
      -chemistry without the periodic table
      -a library without the concept of a book
      -the American transportation system without the concept of a car
      -Christianity without Jesus

      These things are painfully basic, even if we are unaware of how basic they are.

      • Damaris says:

        Thank you, Jonathan. I think you’re right.

      • If we dismiss the OT then we are nothing but a bunch of cultists. And without the OT we have no reason to believe Jesus or His words, no matter HOW nice they may sound.

    • Cedric Klein says:

      Heck, Jonathan, it goes to show they haven’t even REALLY read the New Testament!

    • Jonathan Blake says:

      You’re right one of the main themes in the Hebrew Scriptures and Judaism is exile and exodus. Also like Jeff Dunn said above Christ and the NT are the lens that we read the OT through.

    • I agree with you on two points 1 and 3.

      I think your second point may be a bit of cheap shot. Having issues with the Old Testament doesn’t not make you a Nazi. :p I might perhaps bring up more relevant comparison: Gnosticism and its portrayal of the God of the OT as Satan, from whom Christ rescues us. For a variety of reasons, orthodox Christianity (…or, if you prefer, “the guys who won the historical struggle for control of the early church”…) rejected this teaching and embraced the OT.

      While I do find some OT Scriptures very difficult, its hard to miss how rich it is — how sad, to just toss it out and miss its importance. (Also a little odd, considering that the NT isn’t exactly all fuzzy bunnies.)

  6. Wow. this has been a very interesting dialogue so far. I bought the book at the beginning of the year, and I’m glad I did. Even though Crumb isn’t coming from a believing perspective, I believe he’s “illustrated” Genesis faithfully. His illustrations, which tell the story as much as the words on each page, are raw, profane, graphic, as well they should be. As has already been mentioned, Genesis is not Sunday School material, it’s instead a description of an ancient world where humans fought tooth and nail for survival, and glimpsed a God that intervened into that violent environment. One of the problems that I don’t think we deal with effectively enough is that we tend to romanticize early human history just like we have romanticized Native American history. We see the earliest humans as noble savages untouched by any stain of corruption. Sure we give lip service to “original sin” and the historic fall of Adam and Eve, but our Sunday School god, just like the humans portrayed, are fabrications generated more by our 19 century romantic notions as by anything found in the text.

    As an aside to an early comment, the behavior in Sodom was considered wrong and is still considered wrong now, even by those who advocate for full legal rights for homosexuals. What occurred there was a case of rape, gang rape in fact. No modern advocate of gay rights would say that’s right now. Consensual sex between two adults is fundamentally different from what is described in that passage. We can debate whether that is right (consensual sex among the same sex) in light of the full biblical witness, but that passage has no bearing on the issue.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Shows how messed up Lot’s neighborhood had become — sounds like something you find in Third World war zones, where you have marauding gangs of rape and pillage that makes Cash Corridor in Detroit look safe and sane.

      • What we call third world war zones was the norm for pretty much all of history till recently in parts of the modern west. As Hobbes so aptly put it, life for most folks is “nasty, brutish, and short.” We live on a thin veneer above that reality and any pressure will elicit those old impulses all too well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Even though Crumb isn’t coming from a believing perspective, I believe he’s “illustrated” Genesis faithfully.

      According to his foreword in the book, he approached Genesis “as an illustration job”. AKA he drew what was described in the text.

      I saw a copy of it at one of the dealer’s tables at AnthroCon this weekend and took a look inside. Raw. Could easily make the heads of the Church Ladies explode.

  7. I agree with you that R. Crumb does of good job of “realistically” illustrating Genesis without censoring the nitty, gritty stuff, but I still think his interpretation of Genesis is widely off the mark, and perhaps even dangerous.

    Most of his analysis of Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, and etc is based on the work of secular scholars who view God as being paternalistic and authoritarian…If you actually read the comic, you can definitely see R. Crumb depicting God in such a manner.

    To R. Crumb, Genesis is more about sex/gender roles and conflicts in the ancient Near East than it is about God establishing the foundations of his relationship with mankind.

  8. I enjoyed the book, even if it led to some slight embarrassment on my part. I was returning it to the library after a book club meeting, and was showing it to some of my friends there. Of course the first couple of pages that I opened it to, were some that had nudity on them.

    But, I know that the librarian also read parts of it, before returning it.

    I just wish that R. Crumb would tackle the gospels. I’d love seeing them through his eyes.

    • Cedric Klein says:

      R. Crumb’s The Gospels would be freakin’ awesome!

      I think it wanders in & out of print, but The Lion Graphic Bible has a wonderfully gut-wrenching but not gory Crucifixion scene of a naked Jesus, legs strategically bent to cover Himself, but all the more pain-inducing because of that (it’s the same pose used in the Crucifixion scene in The Last Temptaion of Christ movie).

  9. Skimmed through it at Barnes & Noble today. Looks like a great “coffee table” book! 😀

    Set it out next to my PostSecret books. (If you don’t know what PostSecret is, you really should. Either Google for postsecret in Google images for samples or go to the Webpage or skim through the books – there are currently 5 of them – at a bookstore. The secrets people share – assuming they’re authentic, but there’s no way to tell – will break your heart at times, and have you sending up many a prayer.)

    I don’t particularly care for R. Crumb’s style, but I thought it was an interesting book and with the appropriate discount (either Amazon or 33/40%-off from Borders), it may find a place in my library.

  10. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    You have discovered one of the classic masterpieces of Sixties/Seventies Underground Comix.

    Your commentary on it reiterates a theme common over at JMJ/Christian Monist’s blog — the Kingdom of God become a Sacchaine/Sucralose Kingdom of Nicey-Niceness, with nothing that could possibly offend any Professional Weaker Brethren. All Sweetness and Light, just like Genesis According to Disney Children’s Animation; Gospel According to Christian (TM) Romance Fiction, what Dr Morden’s essay “Sex and Death and Christian Fiction” called “false reality and false Christianity”. All Christian (TM) — but not real. A Fluffy Cloud Heaven Cosmos, not the broken Cosmos of reality.

    Genesis shows that Cosmos broken, interpreted through the story of origin of a Semitic tribal people and Semitic tribal culture. The Reality of a Broken Cosmos, and how messed-up people really are. R Crumb’s underground comic interpretation stresses the messed-up part, but maybe that’s what needed to balance off the Nicey-Nice Cotton Candy we’ve made of it. Show the dark and gritty side as well.

  11. Andy Zook says:

    Heard about Crumb’s Genesis quite awhile ago, got it from library and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s really less offensive than I expected (but still real!) To be blunt, I loved the book…wish I could afford buying it to put on my shelf…(and see/hear visiting browsers faces/comments as they stumbled upon it.) especially the more sensitive of my acquaintances.

    My take on the OT…
    For me, its relevance in the New Cov-Kingdom of God; is to show me where we’ve come from and to show us how Jesus, God incarnate, is the next step up the heavenly ladder back to God’s original Edenic intentions… The OT is only a stepping stone, a type, a foreshadow, the kingdom of God in diapers… I think you can be a follower of Jesus, having never read or heard of the OT. I do not think the OT should be used to justify all manner of un-christlike behavior, opinions, political policies, etc as is done by many I know in american evangelicalism. Thank you Jesus for showing us the next step in living better lives despite our complete failure in the garden!

  12. Jonathan Blake says:

    Just a question- is the whole book in black and white or are the illustrations in color? I looked inside the book on Amazon.com and the fron cover was color with everything else inside black and white. By the way I’ve never read an R. Crumb comic so I don’t know his style if that would answer my question.

    • It’s all black and white, except for the color.

      I think R. Crumb wants the readers to get their watercolor markers and color the book for themselves. Great kids Sunday School material.

      • I meant to write: “It’s all black and white, except for the COVER.”

        Sheesh. 🙁

      • Jonathan Blake says:

        ROFL!!! I’ll have to keep it around for my kids one day so they can color and and read Genesis.

  13. How can some believe in Jesus and then say the O.T. which contains numerous, indeed numerous +++, prophecies about Him, about His coming, His mission of compassion and healing, His sacrifice and suffering for the sins of humanity – that very humanity so completely portrayed in that very O.T. The world of the O.T. and the world of today aren’t so different when it comes to sin and the consequences of sin and the broad range of effects sin has on families and generations and peoples.

    We must remember, when reading the O.T., that this is the Story of the Creator’s Salvific Hisory. His breaking into the sinful world that is portrayed to make Himself Known as the One True God; to make Himself Known in all His Supreme Power, Majesty, and in His Omnipresence (for which He doesn’t miss anything humans do). God was breaking into a world of idols, many false gods. He rightfully had to show His power and might and Worthiness of Worship and Obedience on the part of His creation above and beyond the concepts people had about their man-made gods. Yet, the O.T. is also filled with the Merciful Love of this same Creator on those who come to acknowledge His rightful place in their lives.

    Can we not see in our own lives the journey of the Hebrew people in their day to day struggle to not live as the pagans, to overcome sin, to put God in First Place in every area of our lives (not leaving even one “closet” of our selves closed to Him). Their struggle to obey God rather than do their own thing is nothing new. The O.T. show us the awesome respect that we need to have for God at every moment in all we do, say and think. We may not like the consequences we read in the old testament when God’s chosen people forgot Him and did their own thing but, do any of us like the consequences we’ve had to accept for the choices we’ve made?? God is “blamed” in the O.T. for the violence and negative consequences endured by the Hebrew people – have any of us every been tempted to “blame” God for the bad things that happen to us. I put “blame” in parenthesis so that it not be read in the sense that I am saying God is to be blamed but, rather, that human nature often attaches the Will of God to bad things when it is His Permissive Will.

    The consequences of our choices doesn’t proclaim to ourselves or others that the Merciful Love of God is not with us. The O.T. portrays this over and over. I believe, that, in general, people of our day have lost the true sense of the Sacred in our daily lives. The daily awareness and acknowledgment of the Absolute Holiness of God and the ongoing, moment by moment humble respect that is Due Him by all of humanity and especially those of us that claim to know Him. When I’ve taken the time to contemplate this it truly puts life in a different perspective than how it often gets lived out as I get “busy” in all the “things” that make up each day.

    We love to focus more on this tender compassionate merciful loving God in all that we do than to remember and acknowledge Him in all we do as the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Just Ruler and Creator of all that is, Who, deserves our utmost respect and humble obedience. We know the latter in our “heads” but do we dare spend time contemplating this truth and let it change the way we approach each moment, the way we think, speak, and act.

    • The akedah (binding of Isaac) and the life of Joseph are pictures of Christ.

      I also wonder to what extent Genesis 1 is or can be seen to be an allegory or precursor of spiritual life or rebirth? The separation of the waters, the bringing forth dry land, the ground grassing grass, etc. I know some of the Church Fathers found deep and vast riches in Genesis as well as other parts of the Old Testament (though I wonder if the pre-law part should be called the “Old Testament/Covenant” – maybe the pre-Testament?

    • Beautifully put!

  14. Not exactly the greatest, but there is a manga series by Tyndale:

    MANGA MUTINY: Angels and Mankind in Open Rebellion (Genesis -> parting of the Red Sea in Exodus)
    MANGA MESSIAH (the Gospels) – http://www.tyndale.com/Manga-Messiah/9781414316802
    MANGA METAMORPHOSIS (Acts and some Pauline Epistles).

    MANGA MELECH is forthcoming (entry into promised land -> King David)

    This is the all-color, all-illustrated series, not to be confused with MANGA BIBLE which is the NLT with some B/W Manga illustrations.

  15. Great discussion. Way to go Jonathan, calling out the Marcionites ( no sarcasm intended) Anyone who has ever read the whole Scriptures from Genesis through Revelation knows that the OT is on EVERY page of the NT, and that allusions to and prophecies of Christ are on every page of the OT.

    Dismissing the OT just shows you haven’t done your reading. Also shows you are in the faith for morality and to enforce codes of conduct, not for the forgiveness of your sins.

  16. Do any of you let your children read Genesis? My twelve year old was reading Genesis in her Bible one day and came out to tell me. “Did you know the Bible is X-rated?” She didn’t need R. Crumb’s book to tell her that! I do appreciate what he’s done with his illustration, and I appreciate his faithfulness to the text. Although when we saw it in the bookstore, I told her R. Crumb’s “Genesis” was not a book for children. She responded “I know! I’ve read it (in the Bible).”