Bible as Glossy


So I thought I was breaking some new ground in Testament by interpreting the Bible through the comics medium. It gave me the chance to play with a near-future frighteningly like the deep past being described in the ancient mythical stories.

Now, a Swedish adman and former CEO Dag Soderberg is leading a team called Illuminated World that's reinterpreting the Bible as a magazine – complete with sidebars, coverlines, and subheads. He's using the straight text, for the most part, but embellishing it with Bennetton-style photos and pull quotes.

On the one hand, I feel like objecting to the project outright. Something about the combination of an advertising perspective with the Bible feels like a contradiction. This project is provocative, but it's also oh-so slick, and comes off a bit like what happens when an adman hires a team of people to manifest his vision for selling the Bible to a new generation. The Illumination is there to make the Bible easier and trendier, not truer. On the other hand, I tend to feel about St. Paul's modifications on Judaism much the same way.

As someone who reworked Bible stories to promote my own cultural agendas, I'm in no position to criticize someone else for doing the same – even if the agendas are a bit different than my own. Plus, it's only the New Testament Soderberg has reworked (in English) so far. And the message there is a bit different than the one in the Hebrew Bible – which he's releasing shortly.

This is an interesting object to peruse, and it does make you consider both the Bible – and efforts to illuminate it – in a new light.