In manga Bible, the tough guy is Jesus

Ajinbayo Akinsiku wants the world to know Jesus Christ – just not the gentle, blue-eyed Christ of old Hollywood movies and many illustrated Bibles.

Akinsiku says his Son of God is “a samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette,” here to shake things up in a new, much-abridged version of the Bible rooted in manga, the Japanese form of graphic novels.

“We present things in a very brazen way,” said Akinsiku, who hopes to become an Anglican priest and who is the author of “The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation.” “Christ is a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy.”

Publishers with an eye for evangelism and for markets have long profited by directing Bibles at niche markets: just-married couples, teenage boys, teenage girls, recovering addicts. Often the lure is cosmetic, like a jazzy new cover.

Sales of graphic novels, too, have grown by double digits in recent years. So it makes sense that a convergence is under way, as graphic novels take up stories from the Bible, often in startling ways. In the last year, several major religious and secular publishing houses have announced or released manga religious stories.

The medium shapes the message. Manga often focuses on action and epic. Much of the Bible, as a result, ends up on the cutting room floor, and what remains is darker.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

7 comments on “In manga Bible, the tough guy is Jesus

  1. NWOhio Anglican says:

    Interesting. The problem is that understanding is about words, not pictures. Language allows us to think.

    On the other hand, I’ve always liked Madeleine L’Engle’s comment that most portrayals of Christ are too “nice.” We seldom see a picture that really looks like a man whom a paralytic would obey if he said, “Get up, take up your pallet and walk home!”

  2. Brian from T19 says:

    Actually, there are several manga Bibles and Gospels out there. Some are true manga and others are just a copying. If you are interested in manga, I’d recommend Osamu Tezuka’s 8 volume set ‘Buddha’ which tells the story of Siddartha. It is amazing.

  3. Wilfred says:

    #1 – I don’t think Madeleine L’Engle was including any of the icons of Christ Pantocrator in this category.

  4. libraryjim says:

    I often agree with Madeline L’Engle, except when it comes down to specifics of Theology. In this case she is spot on.

    Jesus was a carpenter for the first 30 years of his life. This was not a time when, if one needed a 2X4 they could run down to the local Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up an order. Most of the board word was done from rough lumber, and had to be cut by the carpenter to size and shape. He would have built up considerable muscle. Add to that that many scholars believe carpenters in Biblical times also did stone work, and you have even more muscle building labor. He would not have been the blonde, blue-eyed anemic wimp portrayed by most artists, who probably wanted to emphasize his gentleness and meekness rather than being interested in His true physical form (which is why so few use Jewish models for their subjects, Michaelangelo being one exception).

  5. libraryjim says:

    PS, I saw a “Manga Bible” at the Family Bookstore a few months ago. The curious thing was that it wasn’t just Manga. The Manga portion was inserted in three sections of a regular print Bible, not as a replacement, but as a suppliment.

    (and by the way, for some reason, I am NOT typing well today, so I’m having to retype quite a few words. In the words of Moses from the story “ARGHHH!”.)

    Jim Elliott <><

  6. libraryjim says:

    See what I mean? It was NOAH in the article, not Moses! again




  7. ocamp says:

    I got “Manga Messiah” for my son, who is old enough to like Pokemon and Nauratu. At first he turned up his nose at the book. But later, he read it cover to cover. He asked a lot of questions about faith and is more interested in living a Christian life. Yea Manga!