Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pass It On

Review of Pass It On: Bible Tales Like You've Never Read Them Before (Bible Society, 2015)

I picked this up for free outside a branch of the Entertainer toy shop.  It is the retelling of five Bible stories, together with illustrations.  It’s from the Bible Society, and they have brought in some great names to do this.

First up is Anthony Horowitz retelling of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11.1-9).  It is a solid and enjoyable retelling, with all kinds of references to missiles, ancient kings and Bruegel’s painting of Babel.  Martin Coleman’s retelling of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is poetic in the way that books for young children are, and beautifully illustrated by Tim Slater.  It should really be in the larger format of a picture book for bedtime stories!  The comedy of Jonah is captured by Gavin Tyte (who wrote The Hip-Hop Gospel of Luke).  This is a bit saggy in places, but worth it for Jonah thinking ‘that God was all wrong and acting way off the mark’.  Andrew Motion contributes a triptych on the life of Jesus, which offers a very different tone.  It’s a welcome addition to the collection.

The standout piece for me, however, is the story of Samson’s Philistine Wife (Judges 14-15), presented as a comic strip by Beano artist Kev Sutherland.  This is full of humour and witty asides.  It captures the anarchy, the thuggishness of Samson, and the sheer unpleasantness of the story brilliantly.  The medium of the comic strip contributes to understanding the story, and has me thinking afresh about the whole book of Judges.

This little book does what all retellings of Bible stories should do: it offers fresh perspectives and ideas on the stories, and sends me back to the Bible with new questions.  It’s an excellent resource and highly recommended.  I do hope the Bible Society do more like this!

You can download or order the book from here. There's also a competition for young people to retell Bible stories themselves.

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