The Bible is an astonishing book. There is no other text like the Scriptures. Over 40 authors. Dozens of literary styles. An overarching story of over 6000 years. But will it keep my teenager engaged? Will my 10 year old want to read it?
Those were the questions facing Aaron Armstrong. How do you share the truths of the Bible in a way that kids would actually get? And not in a video or tweet-like format.
Enter EPIC, the graphic novel format of the Bible.
Covering the “One Big Story”, Armstrong tells the overarching narrative of Jesus in a comic book like way that is sure to pique the interest of kids everywhere. With Heath McPherson illustrating, the ancient tales of the past leap forward and come to life in a Bible geared towards the often neglected age group.
Find that your kids isn’t “teenager” enough for the Teen Bible? See your daughter or son getting frustrated by the strange names or large page count?
EPIC is just the Bible you are looking for. With life-application questions for readers to answer or to start conversations around the dinning room table, this graphic novel-ization of Bible will bring life where other Bibles may have brought frustration.
EPIC is a great prep Bible, or a sidecar Bible. When Armstrong and McPherson decided to create this version of the Bible it wasn’t a replacement for a “full-script” spiritual text. It works best alongside, to be read in concert with the Scriptures, never as a replacement. That is what EPIC is for those that already know or have some familiarity with the Bible. For those that do not, EPIC works as a great interest-piquer. The whole of the Bible is one giant story, spanning the centuries with dozens of “main characters”, but all pointing towards, all culminating in one person.
For the intended audience, young kids between the ages of 10 to 15, this Bible works great. The great illustrations help convey the action, the real issues that people faced, and the amazing things that happened during Israel’s history. The simplified way that Armstrong has told the overarching story of the Bible helps younger readers keep going, rather than being bogged down by weird names of people and towns. EPIC makes reading the Bible stories as enjoyable as they should be for a demographic known for their short attention spans and lack of interest in religions.
Let me speak of EPIC as a comic book fan, for EPIC is created in that style.
Graphic novel may be a loose use of the style. There is more text than illustration, which is usually reversed in other comic book type books, but understandable when you are trying to shift the format of the Bible. The artwork is an addition to the words, a great match of Armstrong and McPherson. Many a comic book has failed because the artwork did not mesh with the writing.
There are times that the artwork and writing do great comic book-ish things, like foreshadowing what will come. This is great, because everyone wants to have a hint, an idea, as to what is coming. This is also great because the epic of Scripture is always pointing towards Jesus, so to see that played at in art and word is wonderful. There are times it may be more heavy-handed than I may like (that is the comic book fan speaking now), it is a great hook for people that have never heard.
Let me also speak of EPIC as a theological thinker, for EPIC is a translation or paraphrase of the Bible.
Can anything really replace the Bible? Is a paraphrase, a reworking of Scripture into a less and simpler terms actually what kids need? While the first question should receive a resounding “no” (from which I am sure Armstrong and McPherson would give as well), the second question may deserve a moments thought. To put Scripture into our own language, our own way of saying things is not wrong. In fact, we do it all the time. It would become a problem if Armstrong and McPherson tried to pass EPIC off as more than it is. If you come to this book assuming that this is a replacement for the Bible, you have misunderstood the intention of this book.
There is a fine line that must be threat with a book such as EPIC. While one’s person theological or position within Christianity may influence what is emphasized, what words are used and repeated, Armstrong seems to find a balance that does not betray a specific leaning. A wonderful accomplishment, for no one denomination or way of thinking about Scripture is perfect and inherently flawless. I may have liked to see different words, different emphasis on particular aspects of the Bible, but that is my own bias.
The only other real issue I have with EPIC is how some portions of Scripture are treated. As a single cohesive story, with one style and format, many of the biblical books are mashed into a summary. Like the Prophets or the Epistles, visions and letters are reduced to a solitary tale with a message that keeps time and tempo with the overarching narrative. There is so much to these books, so much to be gleaned – it was sad to see them reduced. I understand why. I acknowledge what Armstrong and McPherson are attempting to do here. Still, sad.
EPIC – The Story That Changed The World may not rock your world. As a Christian parent, this wasn’t new information to me. But it may be exactly what my kids (when they are old enough) need to start seeing the Bible and the person of Jesus as much more than something Mom and Dad talk about. Or as something far more interesting than what the pastor blabs about every Sunday. EPIC is geared to a specific audience and I think speaks well to those that have and have not heard the “one big story” before.
I give EPIC – The Story That Changed The World a 4 out of 5 star rating.
I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
This book review first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.