R. Crumb vs. the Bible - Macleans.ca

R. Crumb vs. the Bible

Christian group objects to this literal reading


R. Crumb, best known for his bawdy—to put it mildly—underground comics featuring the likes of Fritz the Cat, is coming under expected fire for his illustrated version of the Book of Genesis (with its cover warning: “Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors”)—even though he hasn’t changed a word of the original. One day 15 years ago, for no reason he can remember, Crumb decided he wanted to read the myths of ancient Sumer. Eventually he found a scholarly work that said some of the myths were similar to the stories in Genesis. He read Genesis closely, and wished to illustrate it. He declared his anger at the description of his book by his own British publisher as “scandalous satire.” So he’s probably not happy with some of the other responses either. Mike Judge of the Christian Institute criticizes Crumb’s book for “turning the Bible into titillation.” According to Crumb, he’s merely being accurate, drawing and drawing out what is plain in the words: “I had no intention to scandalize the Bible,” he said. “I was intrigued by the challenge of exposing everything in there by illustrating it. The text is so significant in our culture, to bring everything out was a significant enough purpose for doing it.”

The New York Times

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R. Crumb vs. the Bible

  1. I dare him to try it with the Quraan.

    • zinger – well done – next stop some HR Tribunal

    • Because that would sure prove something, wouldn't it?

      Are you saying that you admire the zealots of another religion for their attempts to terrorize, or are you lamenting them?

      • Are you familiar with the concept that it's not particularly admirable to hit someone who won't hit back? That is what Crumb, Feschuk, Serrano et al do. It makes for easy shock-value with no consequences.

        If he wants to show what a stickler he is for illustrating the text regardless of how it affects people than I dare him to do it with a book sacred to those who will hit back.

        • Did I catch a glimpse inside the head of a Steyn admirer? "Ooh, Steyn is so dangerous, this stuff is really going to kick up a storm, somebody is going to "hit back""

          • How exactly does this have anything to do with Steyn??

          • How does Crumb's book have anything to dowith the the Quran?

        • How is Crumb hitting anyone? A bit overly sensitive maybe?

        • Interesting that you take it as a "hit". I presume we share a general Christian heritage, yet I feel no fear, insult or doubt as a result. What Crumb chooses to illustrate says more about his perceptions and insights than it does about mine or any work an artist chooses to interpret.

          As an artist, he has accomplished his tasks: he has successfully completed an attempt to illustrate the Book of Genesis, he has done so fatihfully to whatever moves him as an artist and his work has provoked thought, outrage, humour, anger, etc…

          If yuo walk around ready to be insulted, you will get your wish.

  2. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, has everything in it that a Harold Robbins novel does. But if you concentrate on the murder, betrayal, rape, incest, adultery, war, treachery, etc. you are mssing the point.

    It contains those things because it is a truthful account of the human condition. Those events are not there to be exploited for visceral effect. It is the underlying message that we are to concentrate on. That we were created by God and are loved by God, that we have an innate desire to seek God, and we are called to love and honour Him, while loving and cherishing each other, living in peace and harmony.

  3. I've been pining for a graphical art version of the old testament ever since I read the excellent graphical biography of Buddha by Osamu Tezuka. I wouldn't appreciate a cleaned up version either, there are a whole bunch of works like that. It is really the problem with Christian art and film in this past century that they shy away from the depiction of biblical stories in all of their violent and flawed humanity. You do that, and the whole narrative loses its power.

    I don't particularly like R. Crumb's art style, (I find it very ugly) but if he is attempting to genuinely display the story of Genesis accurately, I don't see anything wrong with that. Of course, it would be better to actually get graphical art of the bible informed by historians, classicists, and orthodox theologians that know what the hell they are talking about and what the text actually says and what its contexts are. You can't just read the bible as an theologically uneducated American and expect to understand the minds of Jews, hellenized Jews and romanized gentiles living 2000+ years ago in the near east.