'Genesis': R. Crumb Illustrates The Bible

Underground comic legend R. Crumb has put the entire text of the best known book of the Bible into a graphic work. In The Book of Genesis Illustrated, he depicts it all, from the creation of the world to the death of Joseph.

Crumb spoke with host Neal Conan about the challenges of adapting the 50 chapters of Genesis in panels and drawings. Crumb found his way into all of the sex and violence of the story, and The Book of Genesis Illustrated features a warning on the cover, recommending adult supervision for minors.

I believe he used Robert Alter’s “The Five Books of Moses” translation of Genesis for the text.

Peter K

Hmm! I’d like to see that. I’ve always liked R. Crumb’s art. But then I grew up with it, a product of the hippy era. :smiley:

It’s already been done, and I actually wonder if Crumb stole the idea. Illustrating the sex and violence in the Bible was first done by Paul John Farrell about years ago when he brought out the book Illustrated Stories from the Bible (that they won’t tell you in Sunday school). It took difficult stories from the whole book and had them illustrated (i.e. Yahweh kills 70,000 people because King David counted his troops; Moses’ wife circumcises her son in a panic because if she doesn’t Yahweh will kill Moses; etc.)

Here’s a link to the book in Amazon. You see what I mean by the cover alone, so Crumb’s doing nothing new.


Alrighty, it’s been done before. But it hasn’t been done in Crumb’s unique style before. :stuck_out_tongue:

You mean it hasn’t been done by a sensationalist hack before?

It might have been. If that’s what Crumb is, so be it. I like his art, and I always have. It calls up memories of happier (or at least hippier ;)) days, of free outdoor rock concerts, of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics and Last Whole Earth Catalogs.

He he he…well you may well it the work of a “sensationalist hack” but he plays it pretty straight to really what you’re saying is Genesis is the work of a “sensationalist hack”. And, in the same way, when Paul Farrell, illustrates Yahweh slaughtering 70,000 people, that is the work of a “sensationalist hack”. Only problem is the sensationalist hack is the violent, vengeful, retrubitivive Yahwweh. Question is, can you deal with it CW Betts? Well can you?

I have seen Crumb’s work before. He didn’t have the talent to work for Marvel or DC in the '60s, so he went “underground.” I would expect this kind of criticism of YHWH from a non-believer. What you see as “retributive,” is the enforcement of “hesed,” or covenant faithfulness. The covenants YHWH has made with humanity carry a death curse, on both ends. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, it was because the promises to Abraham went unfulfilled, and then became fulfilled through the sacrifice. So until you actually do some studying, and see what is ontologically going on in the Old Testament, I suggest you keep your God-hating vitriol to yourself.

[quote=CWBetts] I have seen Crumb’s work before. He didn’t have the talent to work for Marvel or DC in the '60s, so he went “underground.”

Oh oh…sounds like sour grapes. Crumb is a very successful cartoonist and has had a great career. We should all be so lucky as to live in style on the French Riviera

Right, if you have a “covenant” that excuses ANY mass killings of human beings. People don’t feel pain if they’ve signed a “covenant”. They don’t miss loved ones killed by Yahweh if they’ve signed a “covenant”.

Oh the dreaded “death curse”. Because I’ve chosen you as my favored people, you get to be killed in nasty ways if you don’t do precisely as I say. As long as you make a covenant, then it’s actually a good thing to kill 70,000 people.

That’s right. Anyone who doesn’t think Yahweh is the embodiment of love and empathy is just ignorant. It’s not just a matter of opinion. My, it’s fascinating to watch the mind of a cultist in action.

And it’s not “God-hating”. I could no more hate Yahweh than the tooth fairy.

Hey CW, here, study the words of your wonderful, loving, deity. He’s sooooo sweet, nice, and understanding towards us frail human beings:

What a nice guy!!

You do hate God. You go out of your way it insult God and his followers. DO you ever post on forums complaining about the tooth fairy do you? Then must mean you think there is something real about God. Provide the reference plaease so I can look at the context, and what you left out (as indicated by the “…”) It looks kind of like Deuteronomy, but I’m not sure.

“Hate” he he he…I just call it like it is. He’s violent, vindictive, and petty. Please feel free to present an argument disputing any one of these charges.

non sequitur…nice try though

Deuteronomy 28, baby. If you break any of my rules (such as removing your neighbour’s land mark…ooo scary) then this is what I’ll do to you…so there!!

Fellas, fellas, …

I think Crumb’s book is a good thing, especially for Crumb.

Andy Warhol the Pop Art phenom of the sixties produced lots of edgy art - some out right pornographic. Late in his career he did a series on the last supper in his predictable pop-art style. He was born a Catholic, and I couldn’t help wonder if maybe in his last days he was re-evaluating his faith and - hopefully - embracing Christ to some degree, enough to save his soul.

I hope the same for Crumb. I hope the book is a sign of a conversion or deepening of faith in God.

I have ‘read’ Crumb’s work, I just have not seen it. That is because he uses Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis as the text. From the sample pages I’ve viewed, Crumb seems to be working as a straight up illustrator and not rewriting or putting his ‘words’ into the text. The illustrations of God do not look satiric or to be carrying a personal view that God is a joker or does not care, etc. God is depicted as a man and doing pretty much what the scripture says he is doing.

So far, not having read the entire book, I’m giving Crumb the benefit of the doubt and hoping for the best. I would be great if the Holy Scripture made it’s way into some homes via Crumb that it would not have ever been accepted into.

Peter K

I don’t have time at this moment, but I will give you a lesson on proper interpretation of the Scriptures, so that you can understand what is going on in Deuteronomy. Right now I have to prepare for a class.

If you think Crumb isn’t poking fun at the Bible and making a point, you’re naive. While the book I mentioned by Paul Farrell is obviously trying to expose the less palatable parts of the Bible, Robert Crumb is just being more subtle about it in the hope that people (like yourself) might think there’s some sincerity in this.

For example, do you really take the story of the Tower of Babel literally? You don’t seriously think God was concerned about the ability of humans to build tall towers do you?

Oooohhh I can’t wait to learn that all those violent, nasty, mean, and vindictive threats by Yahweh are actually really nice, kind, and loving thoughts. He’s so cudly. Looking forward to it, Betts. (Edited)

At the risk of sounding naive, it seems that Mr. Crumb has attempted to do an honest work on Genesis.

I mean, four years of work (in producing the book) is a long time to waste a joke on subtleness.

You took a risk and you sound naive. Four years is not a long time at all if you’re demonstrating that the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally and shouldn’t be for children. That’s an important point. If he had no point to make, then he wouldn’t have wasted four years and his great talent. Lots of people have illustrated stories from Genesis before. He clearly thinks this version is important and it’s because it’s unsanitized. He’s doing it to make a point, not to show that he actually thinks the Bible is a really good book and everyone should read it. He doesn’t think this.

I’m sure the project was fun too. In the other book, I mentioned, the author illustrates familial canibalism which is in the Bible, and a fun think to see illustrated. Not only that but in the commentary section, Farrell demonstrates clearly that canibalism is something Yahweh threatened his people with on more than one occasion. In the story illustrated two women have to eat their own children. Lovely stuff. If you need a reference, I can look it up.

Calm down, sheesh. So you don’t like Crumb and he’s doing ‘nothing new’ with this production. OK. Fine. I liken you to the guy that launches into a vitriolic diatribe against the global warming conspiracy every time he hears some child make a remark about a funny shaped cloud. Lighten up. So you don’t like Crumb and he’s up to no-good. OK. Heard ya. We got it. Thank you for your input.

And I really don’t get the connection between discussing Crumb’s work and a literal reading of the Tower of Babel???

Peter K

I’m quite calm and there’s no “vitriol” thank you. Like I said, I just call it as I see it. If you don’t like my style of commentary, I won’t loose any sleep over it.

Why am I not surprised? How about you take a shot at the question. Do you think the tower of Babel story should be taken as literal history? If not, why not?

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