Manga Bible (series)
Cover of first book in the series, Manga Messiah
|Written by||Hidenori Kumai|
|Illustrated by||Kozumi Shinozawa|
|Published by||Next, Japan Bible Society|
|English publisher||Tyndale House|
|Original run||January 2006 – August 2011|
Manga Bible (新約聖書 Shinyaku Seisho) is a five-volume manga series based on the Christian Bible created under the direction of the non-profit organization Next, a group formed by people from the manga industry. Though first published in English, the books are originally written in Japanese and each volume is illustrated by a Japanese manga artist. Each book is adapted from the Bible by Hidenori Kumai. The first two books were illustrated by manga artist Kozumi Shinozawa, while the remaining three will be illustrated by a different artist. The first book in the series, Manga Messiah was published in 2006 and covered the four gospels of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Manga Metamorphosis (2008) covers the events in Acts and several of Paul's letters. Manga Mutiny (2008, 2009) begins in Genesis and ends in Exodus. Manga Melech (2010) picks up where Manga Mutiny left off and continues into the reign of David. The fifth, and currently final book, Manga Messengers (2011) addresses events starting with the reign of King Solomon and takes stories from several of the major and minor prophets, and the Book of Esther and concludes with anticipation of a messiah.
The Manga Bible series is the creation of Next, a non-profit organization created in 2006 to produce and distribution biblically-based manga series for distribution in a multitude of languages worldwide. Next was formed by Roald Lidal, general director of New Life League Japan, pulling together manga publishing and printing professionals from Japan, and includes Japanese manga artists and other professionals in the manga industry.
Lidal created the Manga Bible series in order to "reach children who might resist traditional Bible translations and never attend a church." When he first announced his vision, it was met with some derision, with other Christians feeling the books would be insulting to the gospel. Lidal was persistent, and continued his vision to produce the five book series, with three covering the Old Testament and two covering the New Testament portions of the Christian Bible.
Each book in the series is initially written in Japanese by Christian Japanese artists, then translated to additional languages and published by regional religious publishers. Each language edition is reviewed by members of regional bible societies before publication, to ensure accurate translation.
The first book of the series, Manga Messiah, was scripted by Hidenori Kumai and illustrated by Kozumi Shinozawa. Though initially written in Japanese, the English edition was published first, premiering in the United Kingdom and the Philippines in 2006. In North America, Tyndale House purchased the English rights for all the books in the series, publishing Manga Messiah in September 2007. COMIX35 acted as the English consultants for translating the Japanese editions into English. The Spanish language editions are being published by the American Bible Society. The Japanese language edition was published in Japan in February 2008.
|No.||Title||Japanese release||English release|
Kyuuseishu Jinrui o Sukui Shi Sha (救世主 人類を救いし者)
Tsukawasareshi Monotachi (遣わされし者たち)
|3||Manga Mutiny||October 2008
|4||Manga Melech||—||September 2010
|5||Manga Messengers||—||September 2011
Before its creation, some Christians expressed concern that the Manga Bible series format would "cheapen the gospel." The first book of the series, Manga Messiah, received mixed reviews from critics. Matthew J. Brady of the website "Manga Life" found Manga Messiah to be "a fairly authentic manga," feeling it had an authentic manga background and styling, but showing Western-influences in its use of full-color pages and greater amounts of captioning and text. As a whole, he felt the book was a faithful adaptation of the gospels, but did note that some slight liberties taken with the story would "probably bother steadfast Christians".
Comixology's Jason Thompson was less impressed, heavily criticizing the art of the book, referring to it as the "most basic kind of manga shorthand—awkward geometric faces with big eyes, big hair, exaggerated expressions" with "blandly attractive" main characters, "dorky caricatures" of old RPG characters used for the villains, and crudely drawn backgrounds. Both reviewers felt the book tried to include too much information, and that the authors used Jesus' Hebrew name "Yeshuah" in an attempt to make it more palatable to non-Christian readers. They also both criticized the book's occasional odd phrasing when key dialog was rewritten using modern English.
In an editorial piece, Bruce Wilson of The Huffington Post attacked the book, repeatedly quoting an anonymous source who sent him a copy of it, and Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates. The trio felt the manga contained extreme Anti-judaistic views and was pushing for an idea of "objectifying Jews as non human". Berlet is quoting as stating that Manga Messiah is "A colorful comic training manual for motivating young leaders of the next pogrom against Jews. Not just offensive -- ghastly and horrific in content with a clear enemy scapegoat identified for venting apocalyptic religious bigotry." In a follow-up piece, Wilson himself claimed that "Manga Messiah depicts sinister, swarthy rabbis scheming with the devils and Jews laughing at and taunting Jesus as Christ is nailed to the cross. There are no "good" Jews depicted in the comic."
Reviewer Deirdre J. Good, of the Christian think tank Ekklesia, rebuked the book for its removal of the tension between Jesus and his family and the removal of Judas from The Last Supper, suspecting that Japanese family values had been allowed to intrude upon the original text. She partially supports Wilson's assessment, feeling the depictions of the Pharisees were implausible and that "most depictions of Pharisees or other opponents are caricatures of unappealing people which become sterotypes [sic] by the time one has finished reading the book". As a whole, she felt it was too simplistic, even for a teenage audience.
- "Manga Bible series". Japan Bible Society. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Cutshall, Mark (Apr–May 2008). "Manga Messiah". Outcomes. Christian Leadership Alliance. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07.
- "About Next" (Flash). Next, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- Kumai, Hidenori (September 2007). Manga Messiah. Shinozawa, Kozumi (illus.), Next (ed.). Tyndale House. ISBN 978-1-4143-1680-2.
- "NEXTmanga News". NEXT. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Aronson, Michael (2007-09-01). "PR: Manga Messiah and Bible". Manga Life. Silver Bullet Comics. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- "Manga Messiah". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- "Manga Metamorphosis". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- "Amazon.co.jp： 創世(ジェネシス)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2012-01-15.
- "Manga Mutiny". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- "Manga Melech". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- "Manga Messengers". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- Brady, Matthew. "Manga Messiah". Manga Life. Silver Bullet Comics. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- Thompson, Jason (2008-03-21). "Manga Salad #4: The Manga Bible and Manga Messiah". Comixology. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- Wilson, Bruce (2008-05-29). "Aimed at Children, Nationally Distributed Christian Comic Book Called a "Training Manual" For "The Next Pogrom Against Jews". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- Wilson, Bruce (2008-06-12). "Bruce Wilson: Hagee Mass-Marketed Hitler's Favorite Conspiracy Theory". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- "Making Manga out of the Bible". Ekklesia. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2008-08-26.