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A Fresh New Look for the Bible?

Sunday, October 5, 2008 • 8:55 pm


Font Feed report on a new cover design for the Bible by Crush Design and Art...

The cover is an arresting design. The first thing that hits you are the glowing colours and the surprising vertical division in a positive and a negative mirror image. The illustration style is an unexpected blend of naive art and information design reminiscent of the pictograms developed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Examining the illustration up close reveals a number of intriguing details begging for interpretation. Crush definitely succeeded in what they set out to do – the eye-popping cover looks fresh and inviting. And even if some people may dismiss it as eye-candy, it is damn good candy, and a very effective design.

Check out a full-size of the graphic here.


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Comments:

It’s a way bit too ying-yangish.

[1] Posted by James Manley on 10-05-2008 at 10:00 PM • top

Which side is Down Under?

[2] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 10-05-2008 at 10:09 PM • top

What is with the smoke coming from Adams hand on the red bottom and what’s with the skull and cross bones? Someone help here, please?

[3] Posted by TLDillon on 10-05-2008 at 10:20 PM • top

How about we say this… if you don’t understand the artwork, then go read Genesis 1-3. You might want to read the 3rd chapter twice.

[4] Posted by MLW+ on 10-05-2008 at 10:23 PM • top

I answered my own questions…..geesh! All I had to do was read:

The text mentions “Mankind’s poisoning of a beautiful world” and asks “The cause of wars and intolerance, or the most important book ever written? How well do you know the bible?” So the idea germinated to conjure up a really contemporary image of the Garden of Eden. On the flip side of the image Crush tried to illustrate the possible “poisoning and destruction of a beautiful world”. Therefore the illustration shows Adam and Eve fat with the overindulgence of a consumer society gone out of control. The trees have died from pollution and skulls illustrate the destruction of the animal kingdom.

[5] Posted by TLDillon on 10-05-2008 at 10:25 PM • top

Thanks for the sarcastic answer MLW+! But, I went ahead and read the article. smile

[6] Posted by TLDillon on 10-05-2008 at 10:27 PM • top

Although the designer may not have intended it, the cover reminds me of Deuteronomy 30:19, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

[7] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 10-05-2008 at 11:32 PM • top

It is an arresting design which would make one want to open and read.  A small quibble but would it have got in the way of the message to call the Bible Holy?

[8] Posted by Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] on 10-06-2008 at 02:17 AM • top

Whatever the designer intended, it looks to me like the lower half is Hell.  The Garden, and the price of disobedience.

[9] Posted by Katherine on 10-06-2008 at 02:34 AM • top

There’s no sign of Jesus Christ, no CROSS, no Salvation, no Holy Spirit come to lead us into all truth…no sign of our Heavenly Father’s Redeeming Love, Truth and Life. 

It’s more of an ad for the new Green religion (more sporks and carbon footprints) not an illustration depicting Christianity. 

Abortion and euthanasia will be considered virtuous and necessary in this new religion.  The weak, helpless, handicapped will have no value.

[10] Posted by Theodora on 10-06-2008 at 04:19 AM • top

It’s brilliant. 

Regarding the cover, I have only two complaints:
- As noted above (#10), it doesn’t point us to the Cross;
- It is a bit greeny / smarmy in its message, at that. 

Here’s what I would have done:

- Keep most of the symmetry of the picture, but don’t overdo the antecedent relationship on everything. 
- In the bottom section, completely break the antecedent relationship of the man and the woman wrt Adam and Eve.  Put them off to the side. 
- Put in a lamb (a live one) in the bottom section.  In the top section, it’s antecedent is identical.
- In the bottom section, the successor for the tree would be the Cross. 
- In the bottom section, change the color palette around the cross and the living lamb (locally), such that it is identical to the color palette in the top section. 

It’s probably possible to get the H.S. in there as well, using the dove/water imagery.  I’m not sure how to explicitly include the First Member of the Trinity.  I do know that Gen 1 and the account of Christ’s baptism are remarkably similar - perhaps including a baptism motif in the bottom would be a way to include all Three.  I don’t know how that would look, though.

[11] Posted by J Eppinga on 10-06-2008 at 05:34 AM • top

RE: “There’s no sign of Jesus Christ, no CROSS, no Salvation, no Holy Spirit come to lead us into all truth…no sign of our Heavenly Father’s Redeeming Love, Truth and Life.”

But first, you’ve got to get people lost.

Nobody gets saved if they think they don’t need saving.  I think the cover’s design is saying “something’s wrong with this world—it’s not like it’s supposed to be.”

[12] Posted by Sarah on 10-06-2008 at 06:33 AM • top

Hi Moot. I think the cover may be cruciform in a way that is not readily apparent. Notice the snake in the tree and recall the golden snake Moses raised and Jesus’ use of that imagery to point to his redemptive act in John 3. Second the tree itself cuts from death to life…the image when the top and bottom halves are combined is that of a cross/tree complete with the obvious “curse” associated with the tree (Gal 3)

[13] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-06-2008 at 06:39 AM • top

We must not lose sight of the fact that this cover is supposed to attract non-Christians, not Christians.  Once they are inside the book they can find out that it is Holy, that there is God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that there is salvation for sinners (and we are all sinners).  First they have to buy the book and then open it and THAT is where the cover comes in.

I like Matt’s idea about the cruciform tree.

[14] Posted by old lady on 10-06-2008 at 06:53 AM • top

[*Sigh*] Methinks some are reading way too much into the cover (don’t judge a book by it’s cover tongue wink ), as long as the contents are good, then that’s all that matters. I remember some of the Bibles they had when I was a teen, to make us think the Bible was “cool” ... no comment ... though I did like the Blue Jean style cover, I still have it but don’t used it (a “Good News” paraphrase). I hope this is the last time you see this cover in this condition, else I hope it’s like some of the recent college grads who wonder in with the ratty thing, cover have torn off, creased all over ... that’s a fitting end to a “cool” Bible cover, one I suspect the graphic designer hopes for as well grin .

[15] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 10-06-2008 at 06:55 AM • top

The Cross becomes more apparent if you focus on the front cover in the top photo, in which the mirrored tree trunks form the vertical, and the horizontal is formed by dividing line between the upper and lower images.

However, what worries me is what this particular issue of the book says inside.  While the publisher (linked from the Font Feed report) publishes quite a number of Bibles, including many NIV editions,
http://www.hodder.co.uk/book_search.asp?title=Bible&author;=&isbn;=&keyword;=&binding;=&Go=Go
my guess is that the version we are seeing here is for the “The Bible, Contemporary Edition” ( There is another edition with stunning graphic cover about 2/3 down the page)

This unique, contemporary packaging of the Bible is designed to challenge a new generation of readers to take a critical look at the bestselling book of all time.

Is anyone familiar with this edition from the International Bible Society?

[16] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-06-2008 at 07:05 AM • top

Well, it appears that this intriguing and creative cover design at least succeeds in generating fresh interest.  And in an increasingly unchurched society that is more and more alienated from the Christian faith and life and deplorably ignorant of the Bible, anthing that helps stimulate people to read the Bible is to be welcomed.

Like Dean Munday of Nashtoah House, I think it reminds me of Deut. 30:15-19, and the call to choose between life and death, divine blessing or a horrific curse.  It also reminds me of numerous passages in Proverbs, which likewise highlight the fateful choice between the way of life and the way of death (cf. also the dramatic beginning of that fascinating early 2nd century church manual, the Didache 1:1 ff., which also highlights the momentous choice between The Two Ways).

When the American Bible Society first came out with its new transalation, Today’s English Version, they dressed ip up with a fresh cover that featured a collage of mastheads from major world newspapers under the title “Good News for Modern Man.”  And perhaps more important, they included numerous fresh illustrations using stick figures or line drawings, scattered through out the text, to help maintain the interest of new Bible readers.  My point: it takes more than a fresh cover to sustain reader interest very long.  More illustrations of that creative type scattered throughout the Sacred TExt would be welcome and help to dispel any misleading impressions gained from the cover by itself (such as that the Bible is a Green book about environmental stewardwship etc).

For my part, what gives me pause to wonder about the wisdom of the theme selected for the cover here, is that it appears perhaps pessimistic in concentrating on the story of the Fall, without any indication of the ending that the ancient Church Fathers rightly called the “Protevangelium” or “First announcement of the Gospel” in Gen. 3:15.  That is, the snake that appears so prominently in the top portion of the image simply disappears in the bottom half, instead of having its head crushed by “the Seed” of the Woman.

Of course, no one picture can convey the whole biblical story, but there is something very incomplete about this cover design.

David Handy+

[17] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 10-06-2008 at 07:06 AM • top

(#12) Sarah,

The people are lost.  They’re fatter, the man is holding a smoking gun (which replaces the serpant), and they are surrounded by death.  Note the successors of the animals, reflected in the water. 

(#13) Matt,

I like how you think.  I think you’re onto something.  I would tweak this a bit to get rid of the smoking-gun, succeeding the serpant on the top half. 

Now that I think of it, I can’t remember anything in Genesis 3 that refers to the Serpant (the Evil One) being in a tree.

[18] Posted by J Eppinga on 10-06-2008 at 07:07 AM • top

Moot, #18, Scripture connects the tree and fruit of the knowledge of good and evil with the serpent - just doesn’t say the serpent was actually IN the tree. 

Before the Fall and its consequences, the serpent may not have been footless or slithering prostrate on the ground.

I still say, the cover preaches that the consequences of the Fall are the destruction of a material, not spiritual nature, including the flesh of man.  It has a green enviro-religion message. 

BTW - I think that’s a cigar, not a gun in the hand of the ‘fallen’ man - and therefore, most likely it is an allusion to Bill Clinton.

[19] Posted by Theodora on 10-06-2008 at 07:17 AM • top

Moot—I agree—the people are lost.  That’s what the cover art is demonstrating I think—and that’s a good thing.

I’m just not a believer that all art has to show the main points of the 39 Articles, or the Nicene Creed, or cover all the key themes of the books of the Bible, or nail down the Ordo Salutis in order to be considered worthwhile.

[20] Posted by Sarah on 10-06-2008 at 07:27 AM • top

The artwork confines itself to a message of material environmental consequences of the Fall and does not convey hope. 

The bottom part of the picture is one of a humanity (even those in the church) that STILL rejects God’s gift of Atonement - The Way (Holy Love), The Truth (Holy Living Word) and The Life (under His dominion, in the Holy Spirit).

[21] Posted by Floridian on 10-06-2008 at 08:13 AM • top

The cover is fine.
If the story of the Bible is Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration - then it shows us Creation and Fall.
It shows the problem (see inside the book to find the solution) - Like the poster for the movie Jaws - it says -  uh oh there’s a problem - what can possibly be done to deal with it?
I think it is theologically fine - aesthetically it is cute but no “Passion of the Christ” (oops - there is another work of art that does not explicitly illustrate the entire arc of salvation history)

[22] Posted by Philotheos on 10-06-2008 at 08:35 AM • top

Speaking of the Bible, here’s a prayer shout out to all those in the financial services industry, construction, well, just about any kind of business directly affected by this mess.  Small business owners as well.  The job losses are going to get ugly this winter.

[23] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 10-06-2008 at 08:57 AM • top

Oh pplllleeeeaaaaassssssse…

[24] Posted by FrVan on 10-06-2008 at 09:07 AM • top

Yecchh!

[25] Posted by Cennydd on 10-06-2008 at 09:20 AM • top

I like it, but art is in the eye of the beholder…

[26] Posted by Kate S on 10-06-2008 at 09:22 AM • top

We have several versions on our library shelf. This particular edition will not be joining those.

Call me a boring traditionalist wink

[27] Posted by Fisherman on 10-06-2008 at 09:40 AM • top

Has anyone noted yet this little slip: in the top the fruit is still on the tree (there is ony one visible, so I assume it is THE fruit), yet Adam and Eve are already wearing their fig leaf ensemble. Shouldn’t the clothes be reserved for the bottom half alone?

[28] Posted by texanglican on 10-06-2008 at 09:46 AM • top

I see it as a choice; one of abundant life- or death, both physical and spiritual.  The fact that so many commentors are reacting with such depth says something of the intent of the artist.  Only God’s Word is perfect.  Everything else falls short.

[29] Posted by wportbello on 10-06-2008 at 10:49 AM • top

Hi Sarah (#20),

I misinterpreted your (#12). 

RE:  Ordo Salutis and the kitchen sink.  Yeah, I agree that religious artwork doesn’t have to capture everything.  The problem I have with this artwork is that there is simultaneously too much, and not enough, despair.  There would have been a few small things they could have altered to enrich the painting. 

One more suggestion, and I’m outta here.  The clothes.  Pre-Fall, there shouldn’t be any.  Post-Fall, they should either be leaves or animal skins.  Animal skins would point to Christ, though I admit it wouldn’t be very PC.  wink

Okay.. one more and I’m definitely done.  If they really wanted to sell more Bibles, they could splash a bit of Song of Songs in the work.  Not so much that they’d have to cover it up on the rack, but enough to prove that the Bible isn’t prudish.

[30] Posted by J Eppinga on 10-06-2008 at 11:14 AM • top

#30
Moot, I’m surprised you’re the only other commentor here who noted that the illustration of the garden before the fall should have had no fig leaves on Adam and Eve!  That jumped out at me right off the bat.  And this is too “inconvient truth”-ish for my taste.

[31] Posted by evan miller on 10-06-2008 at 12:17 PM • top

Evan,
TexAnglican (28) got it first.
But your comment got me motivated my first look. 
Right -  it would have been a simple thing, and appropriate to the time sequence set up in the top half of the design, to simply have the “naive art” Adam and Eve figures solid fill, no variation.  The bottom half with fig leaves would have meant the top half figures were actually naked (or “buck neked” as the Scots’ descended Appalachian folk would say), thus showing not only spiritual change, but cognizant change as well.

But, hey, even artists make mistakes now and then.

[32] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 10-06-2008 at 01:31 PM • top

typing too fast—“...got me motivated to take my first look.”

[33] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 10-06-2008 at 01:33 PM • top

Oh dear, maybe they aren’t leaves….

[34] Posted by FrVan on 10-06-2008 at 01:38 PM • top

Good one, Van.

[35] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 10-06-2008 at 01:39 PM • top

If you go to the full graphic link and enlarge the picture, there is more detail about what is what. Very interesting, actually.

[36] Posted by Houseownedbythedog3 on 10-06-2008 at 02:28 PM • top

Have y’all seen the ads for the Green Bible?  I kid you not: http://www.greenletterbible.com .  Yes, the words of Green are in green.

[37] Posted by Michael+ on 10-06-2008 at 02:32 PM • top

The Green Bible - Contributions by Brian McLaren, Matthew Sleeth, N. T. Wright, Desmond Tutu, and many others.

That says it all.

[38] Posted by Floridian on 10-06-2008 at 02:37 PM • top

“............. With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth.”  (emphasis mine)

Oh dear!  A Bible that intends to stress ‘earth’ over the word of God for salvation and therefore sending the totally WRONG message!  Look for it in every TEC pew in the near future.

[39] Posted by prodigal2 on 10-06-2008 at 02:51 PM • top

#37 et al. If you have the stomach to do so, so to the right side of that Green Bible site and “browse” the book. Not a bad thread of its own. It is not good. It takes a bit to even get to scripture. I tried to get to Revelations and did not succeed.

[40] Posted by Houseownedbythedog3 on 10-06-2008 at 03:11 PM • top

I believe it’s a very fine image, forming a full Greek cross on the front cover.  There is some assertion above that it is an Earth-centered picture, but I’m sure it has more meaning than that.  To me, it is a good depiction of the Fall of humanity and the continuing significance of the Cross in both of the human conditions, paradisal and fallen.

[41] Posted by Paula on 10-06-2008 at 03:18 PM • top

Paula, thanks.  I didn’t recognize the Greek cross in the picture until you mentioned it.

Also, the lower half reflects the only words on the front panel, “The Bible”, but now in mirror image and upside down.  I didn’t find the inside solution, but what this says to me is the difficulty of recognizing the inspired Word of God for what it is and from whom it is inspired if you are living in “the curse” (as in comments above from Dt.),

[42] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 10-06-2008 at 05:11 PM • top

Smoking gun? That’s no gun, it’s a se-gar!

[43] Posted by iceworm on 10-07-2008 at 12:58 AM • top

Hi Moot, there is nothing in Genesis 3 referring to the serpent in a tree. There is, however, something quite interesting about that in John 3 and I think that is precisely what makes the cover “cross-centered”

[44] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 10-27-2008 at 12:19 PM • top

I’ve starred at the cover for 30 min - first at arms length, the across the room, then squinting a bit - and I can’t figure out the picture. wink

[45] Posted by Festivus on 10-27-2008 at 12:59 PM • top

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