Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Book of Genesis Illustrated

      Recently I acquired The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by R. Crumb, an illustrator whose work is quickly recognizable through the style of his drawings. According to Wikipedia, “The book includes annotations explaining his reactions to the stories. It is reported on NPR in October 2009, that it was a four-year effort and does not rewrite any part of the text. Much research was done by Mr. Crumb in the earlier language versions of the text to support the interpretations. It contains all fifty chapters of Genesis and comes with a warning on its cover: ‘Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors.’”
      It is interesting to observe most people’s first reaction when I mention the book: “How does he depict Adam and Eve?”
      Well, they look a lot like the rest of us, and of course they are dressed in whatever attire the Bible calls for. In the beginning they are wearing nothing, and yes, they are anatomically correct. They appear to be healthier than we are, perhaps because of their outdoor lifestyle. It is also possible that they followed a more nutritious diet than we do.
      The Bible doesn’t record whether they were carnivores or herbivores, although there is documentation that they did eat fruit on occasion. (Would that make them fruitivores?) We also know that their sons got involved in both farming and animal husbandry.
      The next question is usually something like, “How is the phrase ‘He knew his wife’ illustrated?” Well, there are some cuddly pictures, although nothing pornographic, but they are a bit more graphic than a wave of the hand or a nod of the head.
      With these two topics out of the way, most people seem to be satisfied.
      But the most graphic pictures, at least to me, are the ones of corpses floating in the flood, and the citizens writhing in the flames during the destruction of Sodom. I wonder about people who think that the sinful parts of the book are about nudity and sex, and shrug off the blood and gore and mass destruction.
      Contrary to the warning on the cover, I think it might be a good idea for kids to view the illustrations whenever they study the old testament – words alone cannot convey the full horror. The Book of Genesis Illustrated is proof that “One picture is worth a thousand words.”
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      Genesis proclaims that man was created, not from nothing, but from the dust of the ground. Man was not a supernatural being; he was, and still is, an integral part of nature. But what an exciting part! Because of its ability to store concepts, his brain holds the potential for memory, insight, emotions, imagination; entities that had never before existed. For the first time in history the Spirit could look out and see what it had done. It could combine what it saw with the hidden cranial potentials and create all sorts of new things. Because of the power of the Spirit working through his brain, man received dominion over the earth. Creativity took a quantum leap forward. And as Genesis says, mankind was driven from the Garden of Eden. His ability to speak and to classify separated him from non-speaking nature, but not from the Spirit.
      The Wisdom of Genesis – The Spirit Runs Through It.

      The book is available in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.

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