Saturday, November 03, 2007

New Search Feature!

I've just added a new Google 'custom search' feature to the 'Bible illustration blog'.
This will hopefully make it a lot easier for you to find exactly what you're looking for, and improve your browsing experience.

For example, if you're searching for Bible pictures based on a particular story, you can now perform a quick search by entering the story title in the search box. All search results will be gathered from this blog, 'The Bible Picture Website' and ''.

Also, if you're interested to read about a particular Bible artist, just type in their name and search the entire blog to find any posts written about them! If you can't find any articles about your favorite Bible artist, drop me a line with some information about the artist which I can use in future posts.

At the time of writing, 58 articles have been posted on the blog over the last 12 months, mostly related to Bible illustration. If you're interested enough in the subject to want to read every post, the best way to access them is via the 'Archives' list in the right hand column.

Was Samson muscular?

This may seem like a strange question to ask, but I came across an internet article, part of which criticized Bible illustrators for depicting Samson as "a man with great muscles". A quote from the article follows...

"In the world, every comic book hero is always trying to do supernatural things with his super powers. Every hero in movies and books are always showing off their super powers. That is why even the children’s bible illustrators draw Samson as a man with great muscles. Delilah and the Philistines continually asked him where his strength lay. They could not figure it out! That means he must have looked quite ordinary, otherwise they would not have asked".

On the surface of it, it seems like a reasonable assumption to make, but the author is missing an important point; We need to remember that the acts of strength displayed by Samson were far above anything that had ever been seen before. These were feats of strength that were beyond imagination!

If Arnold Schwarzenegger fought and killed 1,000 Philistine soldiers, armed only with the jawbone of an ass, or pushed over an enormous Temple housing over 1,000 people with his bare hands, we would be in awe of his strength! We wouldn't say "He was able to do that because of his great physique!" The point is, the size of Samson's muscles, whether large or small, were no indication of his actual strength. People were amazed by his feats of 'supernatural' strength! Strength that was beyond man!

I personally think that Samson would have been well built. His hands for instance would have needed to be fairly large just to grip those huge heavy gates of the city of Gaza that he carried up the hill, and the balance needed for such a feat would have required fairly large feet too.
The fact is, Bible artists love to draw Samson the way they do! and those of us who were brought up on a diet of DC & Marvel comics take any opportunity to draw musclebound heros! I would need a lot more to go on than the quote above before I would consider drawing Samson with the physique of Woody Allen!

Incidentally, If you happen to be a movie producer about to make a 'Samson' movie, you could do a lot worse than casting French rugby player S├ębastien Chabal (below) in the title role!

S├ębastien Chabal with his baby daughter. photo © Daily Mail 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mad Bible Artists!

As a teenager, I was an avid reader of Mad magazine! My all time favorite 'Mad artist' was Mort Drucker.
His caricatures were superb and you can't help noticing his influence on many of the 'Mad' artists that followed.

It may surprise you to know that Mad magazine has had it's share of Bible artists too! The most recent one being Dennis Jones who illustrated the best selling 'See With Me Bible'. If you like Cartoon style Bible illustrations then this Bible is for you! His character designs really are superb, and full of humor!

Dennis Jones is not the only 'Mad' Bible artist. I recently came across an article about Basil Wolverton.
Basil Wolverton was one of the original artists at Mad magazine in the 50's. His Bible art concentrated on the 'End times' and is more apocalyptic in nature, (not for the faint hearted!) You can view his Bible art here.

If anyone knows of any other 'Mad Bible artists' please leave a comment.

above image © Mad magazine 2007

Blind Bartimaeus

The latest set of Bible pictures to be added to the 'Bible Picture website' tells the story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus. The story takes place on the outskirts of Jericho.

Jericho had the ancient title of 'City of Palm trees' referring to the abundance of palm trees in the area, so remember to add palm trees when illustrating one of the many stories that take place here. Jericho is believed to be the second oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and has been described as a "lush green oasis in the desert". The fertile soil of Jericho, which once made it famous for its groves of balsam, spice and date palms, was apparently due to the skillful irrigation of earlier times. For this reason Josephus refers to it as the "divine district".

Just like today, those who beg chose the busiest thoroughfares to position themselves in. Many Jews met in Jericho before traveling to Jerusalem for the passover celebrations, so the road leaving Jericho became a popular spot for beggars. Bible artist William Hole, who visited the Holy land to gather references for his Bible pictures, noticed that blind beggars had their begging bowls fastened to their waist by a cord. Presumably to deter potential thieves. It's reasonable to assume that this practice was passed down from ancient times.
In his book 'The Life of Jesus of Nazareth' Hole points out that blindness in Palestine during this period was "grievously common, the proportion of those afflicted being one in every hundred of the population".

In picture 3, Bartimaeus has discarded his blanket, (Mark 10: 50), and is kneeling at the feet of Jesus. The act of discarding his cloak is very significant as it was his only possession. (He had forsaken all to follow Jesus!) This cloak would have been his only protection from the cold at night, and his only shade from the hot sun during the day. So important was a poor man's cloak that the Bible, (in Exodus 22: 26-27), sets down strict regulations regarding its use as property. It states that even if this garment has been pawned, it must be returned to its owner before sun down, for "What else will he sleep in".

I've heard, although I've not checked it out, that begging in Bible times was a recognized profession for those who were unable to support themselves, (e.g. those who were blind and lame etc), and that beggars wore a cloak that identified them as beggars, a kind of official uniform! This made the discarding of this beggars uniform an act of faith on the part of Bartimaeus, trusting that he would no longer need it. I'm not sure if Josephus mentions anything about this. I would be interested to know if there is any evidence to suggest what color a beggars cloak might have been.

In picture 4 we see Jesus walking away in the distance. the Bible says that Bartimaeus followed Him in the way. Notice that the road that Jesus took was the road to Jerusalem, and the cross! Bartimaeus was one of the few followers of Jesus who was ready to follow Him all the way to the cross.

There are four pictures in this set which gives us a new total picture count of 695!
The next picture set I will be working on is a new version of the Nativity, which (God willing), should be ready in a couple of weeks or so. We do already have Bible picture sets of the Nativity for those who can't wait, but the new ones will be in the new (more detailed) style.

Posts on other Bible stories
The Rich Young Rular
Crucifixion part 1
Crucifixion part 2
On the road to Emmaus
The Nativity
Raising Lazarus
Woman taken in Adultery