Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lion Bible in its Time

I seem to start every post nowadays with the words "My apologies for the long delay since my last post..." The reason for this is that I have been working flat out to finish the chronological teaching pictures for New Tribes Mission. The number of pictures on the original list has now increased to 212! 207 are complete, apart from some alterations, leaving five pictures to do, but they include some very involved ones like 'The Dedication of Solomon's Temple', 'Jacobs Ladder' and 'The Fall of Jericho!'
As it's a bank holiday Monday here in the U.K. I thought I'd add a quick blog. I was sent a copy of 'The Lion Bible in its Time' a few weeks back to review on the blog - so here goes.

When I review a book like this for readers of the blog I'm looking purely at the illustrative content and not the literary. The first thing that struck me about this book was the standard of illustration, which is much higher than you normally find in a book of this type, (which is basically an introduction to the Bible for children). They reminded me of the illustrations in the Reader's Digest 'Jesus and his Times' (1987). The illustrator, Steve Noon has produced breathtakingly detailed panoramas of Biblical scenery, my favorites were The Tabernacle, Jerusalem in the reign of King Solomon, Babylon (See above cover), Roman Jerusalem and The Port of Caesarea, (below). The pictures also include helpful cutaway sections showing the interiors of buildings/tents etc.

The pictures on the whole are well researched - many of them are based on ancient Assyrian and Egyptian carvings for accuracy. Steve Noon has done an excellent job lighting the pictures too - you can almost feel the warm glow of the sun! On a spread titled 'The great Flood' a large boat is seen being covered with bitumen. I don't think that this is supposed to be Noahs Ark as it's only about 15 feet high at the side. I suspect that this is rather depicting the boat building techniques of the time. Books of this type tend to concentrate on historical detail rather than the miraculous. It's a fine line that the publishers have to walk in order to get these books into our secular school libraries here in the U.K. - they come under rigorous censorship!

Steve Noon is not put off when facing an epic battle scene either as his picture of the Assyrian army defeating Israel in 720 BCE clearly shows. There really is a lot to look at in these pictures, and if you look closely, you'll find some humorous scenes that children will enjoy too. I'm guessing that the pictures were done in watercolor which must have taken a fair time to do. The reproduction is good, as is the print quality. All-in-all this is an excellent book and one that I would recommend to readers for their reference library.
Top marks to Steve Noon and Lion!

Pictures © Lion hudson 2011


Russell said...

Hey there! I came across your blog a couple of months ago and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it. I'm not an artist, just a wannabee ;-)

I'm trying to teach my kids to enjoy drawing because it's such a valuble skill. Do you know of any good resources that teach drawing priciples but use biblical subjects as examples?

deboraw said...

Well, I'll try again. Very good, Graham. Glad to hear you're working (so hard)! LOL

art supplies said...

I am an aspiring artist and recently came across your wonderful blog.

I would just like to thank you for such a great resource!

deboraw said...

Just a question occurred to me. Why the rigorous censorship? In America the socialists in the '40's came up with the phrase, 'separation of church and state', which is not a part of our heritage only a smoke screen, but how come in your neck-o-the-woods?

chennai photos said...

Hey there! I came across your blog a couple of months ago and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it. I'm not an artist, just a wannabee

Joel and Stef said...

I have been following your blog for a very long time now. I have found it to be such a well a "gold mine". I then came across your comment on doing the New Tribes Mission pictures. I can't wait to see them. I grew up as an missionary kid in NTM. NOW I'm part of group of volunteer Video Team that is putting the redemption story from Genesis to the resurrection of Christ on Video.
We view our team as Bezelel as He is the one that is enabling us to do this HUGE project. We are stationed in Brazil. I'm in charge of Wardrobe and also many of the props. I'd love for you to check out our website and we are always looking to make this the most "correct" Biblicaly.
our flicker site is

In <><
Stefanie Craig

Bible artist said...

Good question Russell. I came across a little book that might be just what you're looking for! It's title is 'Drawing Bible Pictures' by H.W.Whanslaw and you can still find copies on Ebay. It covers all the basics like How to draw heads, hands, feet etc, how to clothe figures, how to draw animals, buildings in perspective etc, but it's all biblical buildings, figures etc. It was first published in 1943 and was reprinted 13 times!

The UK and Europe is extremely secular Deboraw, much more so than the US. Thankfully the tide of christian apologetics is rising to meet the Atheists head on!
I had the privilege of hearing William Lane Craig in a debate recently at Manchester University.

Joel and Stef:
It's a great project you're working on - I was very impressed with the casting and costumes! I had an email recently from one of your colleagues (Jonathan) and I have been wanting to blog about your project ever since. I noticed that you need cg artists on the project and I know that we have a number of christian cg artists that read this blog so I'll pass on your details. I've just realized that I've had a question on this blog from another member of your team (Ana). please apologize for me taking so long to answer her question! I'm catching up slowly. keep up the great work!

Kirsty said...

When I first saw this book in the bookshop, I was really excited - so historically accurate.

Unfortunately, I was not happy with the text. I know that for a book to get into schools it can't say 'this is true'. However, many Christians who work in schools manage OK by simply saying 'the Bible says' or 'Christians believe'. That's fair enough.

However, this book goes much further. It in some cases implies (if not states) that the Bible stories were made up by the people who wrote them, or were just the understanding of people at the time. That's going too far. If you say 'the Bible says' you don't need to water it down further.

Even more strangely, it really underplays things like the resurrection. Whether you believe it's true or not, it obviously is absolutely central to Christianity. A lot could have been made of the historical aspects - burial customs, the construction of tombs, etc. You're not telling children that they themselves must believe it, but there's no harm in making a big thing of the fact that Christians do.

Deboraw - unlike in the US, Religious Education is compulsory in state schools (i.e. what you would call public schools). This is a great privilege. However, one can't tell children what they must believe. A book therefore couldn't tell children that these things in the Bible really happened, as many people do not believe that.

Matt Baker said...

I have this book, it's stunningly good. I love Steve Noon's style, I'm going to have to track down some of his other work.

Bible artist said...

Many thanks for your comments Kirsty. As I mentioned in the post - I haven't actually read the text, I've concentrated purely on the pictures which as you say are very good. I would prefer to feature books that are both well drawn and biblically sound too, but as I don't always have time to read them, it's not always possible.

I am always thankful to those who do have the time and comment - so many thanks again.

Kirsty said...

It's the kind of book that could be really useful for an illustrator (I have much dodgier books than that in my reference library!).

But I couldn't in all conscience put it in my church library, as I don't want to undermine the faith of the children I teach.

It's such a shame it's so hard to find Biblically accurate materials that are also historically accurate. Sometimes it's as if non-christians take the historicity of the Bible more seriously than Christians!