Thursday, April 04, 2013
I have read the Book of Revelation more times than any other book in the Bible; I’ve read it over thirty times. Even though it is a book I am quite familiar, much of the text remains as enigmatic as the first time I read it; prophecy can be rather ambiguous. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to read this graphic novel adaptation of the Book of Revelation, I couldn’t pass it up.
This book, THE BOOK OF REVELATION is an adaptation by Matt Dorff of an original translation by the Greek Orthodox priests Father Mark Arey & Philemon Sevastiades. The illustrations are done by Chris Koelle. The text is taken directly from the translation done by Fathers Arey & Sevastiades. Unlike some Bibles, this is an actual translation of the original work and not a modern translation (e.g. The Message). Each chapter and verse of Revelation can be found in this book. In fact, the chapters in THE BOOK OF REVELATION are divided according to the actual chapters in the Bible. The verses aren’t numbered like the chapters, but they are there. As the illustrator, Chris Koelle, points out in his note at the end of the book, he made his images based upon the perspective of the Apostle John. The images that are seen are representations of what John might have seen as he was transposing the original text. There can be disagreement over the interpretation of certain passages of text, but the translator, adapter, and illustrator have remained faithful to the text.
Like much of the Bible, there is a great deal in THE BOOK OF REVELATION that is violent and explicit. Koelle doesn’t shy away from this in his illustrations. However, he does refrain from making them over-the-top or campy. Destruction is wrought, blood flows, and people die, but it’s shown as the Bible says. Younger children might be frightened by some of the images and rightly so. However, I don’t think that’s enough to prevent a young reader from reading this book. Caution should be used, but it should be according to the maturity of each child.
Revelation is one of the books from the Bible that have inspired artists for several centuries and some of the images and phrases from the book are a part of the common lexicon (e.g. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Armageddon, etc.). Even if you are not a Christian, one cannot deny that the book has had an impact and influence upon our culture. THE BOOK OF REVELATION provides a visual reference outside one’s mind’s eye that can illuminate Revelation for both believer and nonbeliever, child and adult alike.