The Brick Testament
"Adam and Eve" from The Brick Testament website
Type of site
|Created by||Brendan Powell Smith, aka Elbe Spurling|
The Brick Testament is a project created by Brendan Powell Smith, also known as Elbe Spurling, in which Bible stories are illustrated in satire using still photographs of dioramas constructed entirely out of Lego bricks.
The project began as a website in October 2001 that featured six stories from the book of Genesis, and is completely unaffiliated with the Lego company. There is also a Brick Testament book series.
Throughout stories are retold using passages from the Bible, with chapter and verse cited, the wording being a free adaptation that Smith says is based on a number of public domain Bible translations. Occasionally, mostly when images are being used to contrast with the underlying scripture, Smith dramatises the images with additional text. Such text is displayed in gray instead of the usual black.
Smith's own commentary occasionally appears in illustrations and is displayed in gray text, and also as original titles for the stories themselves. For example, Smith presents a story titled, "Stephen Gets Stoned" which is based on the New Testament book, the Acts of the Apostles, chapters 6-7. The scripture verse is cited directly beneath the illustration and commentary:
- Scripture: Acts 6:10 But they were unable to stand against the wisdom and spirit with which Stephen spoke.
- Illustration and commentary: A man is depicted holding a scroll in front of a crowd with a speech balloon saying: If you look at a few phrases here and there and completely ignore their original context, they totally predict Jesus! 
A Rolling Stone article that is included as a link in the Brick Testament web site suggests that Brendan Powell Smith is an atheist. In 2015 Spurling announced on Facebook that she was an atheist, a transgender woman, and a lesbian, and had legally changed her name to Elbe Spurling but would likely retain the name Brendan Powell Smith for her books.
The dioramas seen in The Brick Testament are created from Smith's personal Lego collection. The pieces come from hundreds of Lego sets dating from the 1960s to the present.
In the few instances where alterations are made to Lego elements, they are generally simple changes made with a hobby knife or permanent ink marker. An example alteration is God's hair: Smith made God's white hair by carving a white helmet piece (found on Peeron). The only completely non-Lego part of Smith's scenes is the background sky.
All of Smith's images are digital. Smith photographed early scenes with a Nikon Coolpix 950. He now uses a Nikon Coolpix 4500. After photographing the scenes, he adds speech balloons and sometimes makes alterations using image editing software.
The Brick Testament website began in October 2001. It originally featured six stories from the book of Genesis. The site now contains over 400 illustrated stories, from both the Old and New Testaments, and over 4,500 images. It had an Alexa traffic rank of 53,191 in April 2007. Each story is tagged if it contains nudity, sexual content, violence and/or cursing. The website has had over two million visitors.
Several hardcover Brick Testament books have been published, The Brick Testament: Stories from the Book of Genesis, The Brick Testament: The Story of Christmas, The Brick Testament: The Ten Commandments., and The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament. The US retailer Sam's Club withdrew The Brick Bible from sale in November 2011, "due to the complaints of a handful of people that it is vulgar and violent".
Notes and references
- Rubin, Daniel (11 December 2003). ""In the beginning" was a snap.". Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Brick Testament on Amazon.com
- Smith has stated the rationale for updated wording of TBT is to avoid copyright issues.
- The Brick Testament, Acts 6:10
- Excerpt from Rolling Stone Magazine article about the Brick Testament,
- "Timeline Photos". M.facebook.com. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
- Brick Testament FAQ
- The Brick Testament website
- Tom Chivers (2009-10-08). "The Brick Testament - the Bible retold in Lego". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- The Brick Testament, contents page
- Eric Young (2009-10-12). "'Brick Testament' Illustrates Over 400 Bible Stories with Legos". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- 2003, Quirk Books, ISBN 1-931686-45-9
- Das 1. Buch L. (German version, ISBN 3-7254-1336-3), レゴで遊ぶ天地創造ものがたり (Japanese version, ISBN 4-576-04235-1), 레고로 만나는 창세기: 하나님 처음 지으신 세상 (Korean version, ISBN 89-91290-10-8)
- 2004, Quirk Books, ISBN 1-59474-012-7
- 레고로 만나는 예수 탄생: 크리스마스 이야기 (Korean version, ISBN 89-91290-11-6)
- 2005, Quirk Books, ISBN 1-59474-044-5
- 2011, Skyhorse, ISBN 978-1-61608-421-9
- Terdiman, Daniel (23 November 2011). "'Brick' breaker: Lego bible too racy for Sam's Club". CNET News. Retrieved 23 November 2011.