The Book of Genesis, Illustrated

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 22, 2010 in Reviews

book of genesis illustratedLast year, legendary underground comic artist R. Crumb, known for his subversive and earthy style, released The Book of Genesis, Illustrated to rave reviews.

The comic book follows every word of Genesis, and for once is not interested to whitewash the Bible for modern readers. Actually seeing roughly what the Bible says happened reveals the myth and violence of it in a way that Christians may either hate or really, really enjoy.

The Amazon reviews are almost universally ecstatic:

As a theologian… I was really curious to see this book… In a word, stunning! Crumb has not watered down or distorted the Scriptures; nor has he left out any of the juicy or violent bits. I will be proud to display this on my bookshelf next to my Bible and other theological works.”

In March of ’09, some online articles were calling this upcoming work “subversive”… Not so. There’s no intent to be comical here…or to insult Judeo-Christian theology. It seems, in every sense, to be a legitimate illustration of the Book of Genesis. And, I found it beautiful, because Crumb’s attention to visual detail is beautiful.”

For those who would suggest that the work satirzes its material or attempts to demean the underlying Biblical text I would suggest they re-read their Genesis. Where the Bible says Judah had relations with his daughter Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute, the illustrations show Judah having relations with Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute. Where the Bible says Lot while drunk had relations with each of his daughters in a cave, the illustrations show Lot while drunk having relations with each of his daughters in cave.”

God himself would be pleased… Amazing. Faithful. Ambitious. Masterful. Once you read this book in faith, or for the Crumb art, you will find your own set of words that characterize it. Be inspired.

R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis, Illustrated is an intense pleasure from beginning to end.

crumb_breath of lifecrumb_ribscrumb_cherubimcrumb_evil mencrumb_babelcrumb_annihilationcrumb_lot and daughterscrumb_jacob's laddercrumb_circumsizedcrumb_onana crumb_joseph burial

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee A. P. June 22, 2010 at 7:36 am

Yeah I find it supremely odd that a Christian would be offended by this. The same thing often happens when you simply point out what they believe, literally, but you use terms that are not as flattering as what they like. When they hear, or in this case SEE what many of them literally believe, they often become offended. Thats because this is the natural, visceral reaction to literalist Christianity. One has to massage the shit out of it not to be offended.


Bill Maher June 22, 2010 at 8:04 am

It is really great stuff. I am going to put it next to my 150 or so Chick Tracts.


Eneasz June 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

Overall great, but I feel he anthropomorphized the Serpent way too much. Something akin to the Geiko Gecko would’ve been more accurate, IMHO. People back then had no problem with perfectly normal-looking animals being able to talk (and still don’t if Disney is any indication :) )


Reginald Selkirk June 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

One book down, 65 to go.


jepthah June 22, 2010 at 8:34 am

I like the sequence where Onan spills his seed on the ground and then gets bashed over the head with a stone. The Heavenly ramp picture is pretty cool too. Although it reminds me of Carl Sagan’s quote that if Jesus ascended from the earth traveling at the speed of light, he still wouldn’t have made it out of our own galaxy even after 2,000 years.


Lee A. P. June 22, 2010 at 8:53 am

A film with this content shown just as it is could be EPIC (and I think that word is overused on the net bu net geeks).


JMauldin June 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

I went to an exhibit featuring R. Crumb’s “Genesis” at the Hammer Museum a few months back, hoping to see an introspective “behind the drawings” kind of thing. Nope. They literally took every page, framed it and spread it across the walls of a big room. You stood in line while the guy in front of you read page 8, when he was done, you got to read Page 8…and so on and so forth. We pulled out of that line and went home faster than Onan pulled out of Tamar (ZING!). That being said, the graphic novel is amazing.


Sabio Lantz June 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

My kids love it, of course (8 and 10 years-old)
Wait, if I was a good Atheist Dad I shouldn’t show it to them for many reasons, right?


JS Allen June 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Sabio you flawed father! Don’t you know that Christianity can “rub off” like leprosy?!?


Sabio Lantz June 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Oh the dirty contamination of religious thought — I am indeed morally destitute for putting my offspring at such a high risk.


Dylan W July 31, 2010 at 11:29 am

Unfortunately, some are ‘soft’ Christians and can’t recognize the terrible things that happened, and/or spin things the way they want to understand it. Even worse this ‘soft’ mentality is worsened by the American culture and is often taught in churches that don’t wish to deal with the difficult things, and to children who then grow up with that ‘soft’ belief.

However, don’t generalize like that and act as if every person reacts the same way. Besides, it’s an unfortunate part of human nature to become defensive or angry when the unpleasant faces of one’s belief or self are displayed. Many don’t know how to deal with it. Many simply reject it, choosing to only think about the pleasant. However, that is not a basis for the “Bible being false”, it is simply seeing one of the ugly sides of human nature. Something people need to first recognize, and than fight against.

To be “offended” by “literalist Christianity” is your own choice. And, unfortunately, the choice of many believers who think it a twisted view of the Bible and can’t face sad truths because that is how they have been taught or they simply refuse to face it.

To label every single Christian in a negative OR positive way is no different than saying “Blacks should be slaves”, “Mexicans can’t read”, ect. By the same token saying all Christians are ‘perfect’ is the same as saying “The Japanese are greater than all” or “Whites are the superior race”. It is wrong to spin it either way.

Claiming that stereotyping is wrong, and accusing others of racism, only to consign an entire religion to the views of a few is ridiculous. (Yes, I know that you didn’t actually say anything about racism, I’m talking about media and the current cultural trends as a whole)


Chainsaw September 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

The spooky thing is, I read a bunch of the Bible long before I saw any Robert Crumb cartoons (well, maybe the Keep On Truckin’ guy), but aside from his personal style, this is EXACTLY how I imagined it when I read Genesis at age 9 or so.


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