Five hundred years ago Martin Luther made a big breakthrough when he translated the Bible into the vernacular. The Latin Vulgate was no longer the language of the people. The invention of the printing press helped to popularize the newly accessible Word of God in German.
While this move was not supported by the Catholic Church for centuries, it was one of the gifts that Pope Francis mentioned at his visit to Lund, Sweden, in ceremonies to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the church.
Pope Francis began an ecumenical service by praying that the Holy Spirit would “help us to rejoice in the gifts that have come to the church through the Reformation.” Later, he said one of those gifts was a greater appreciation of the Bible as God’s word.
The world of Bible translations has made tremendous progress in the last century. Scholars work together in ecumenical teams and Christians have access to a variety of biblical translations. Indeed, this world has greatly changed in the past 500 years.
As the world moves into the digital age — and perhaps less of a scholarly era — the Bible is now also available in a new format. The Kingstone Bible from Florida-based publisher Kingstone Comics is available in a three-volume, full-colour hardcover comics adaptation that recreates the entire Bible in the form of a graphic novel. A team of 45 comics artists, all with experience at Marvel and DC Comics, produced the Kingstone Bible illustrations, according to a Religion News Service story.
This is the first time the complete text of the Bible has been made available as a graphic work. “It’s an epic look for an epic book,” said publisher for Kingstone Comics, Art Ayris.
The 2,400-page, three-book set was launched Nov. 1 with a 60,000 copy first printing run. The three-piece set is priced at $75.
Ayris, a pastor at First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Fl., said the idea came to him while ministering to at-risk young adults in 2000. “I needed materials to reach them,” he said. “As everyone who is successful in publishing knows, you have to find an underserved niche, and it’s been key for us.”
While Ayris’ approach to this sacred text has been criticized, he has the support of evangelical theologians. Endorsements have come from Bible societies around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore.
Gerry Breshears, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society in Portland, Ore., called the Kingstone Bible “a powerful new way to get the message of the Bible into the hands, heads, and hearts of people who simply do not read books, much less the Bible.”
That’s the challenge Martin Luther faced some 500 years ago. In this ecumenical age, it remains to be seen how Ayris’ approach will be accepted by today’s readers.
Amazing new technology is now able to read ancient scrolls too fragile to unwrap.
Computer scientists at the University of Kentucky used a computer to unfurl a digital image of a charred ancient scroll discovered half a century ago.
The lump of carbonized parchment could not be opened or read. Its curators in Jerusalem conserved it, hoping that new technology might one day emerge to make the scroll legible.
The writing retrieved by the computer from the digital image of the unopened scroll is amazingly clear and legible. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think anything would come of it,” said Pnina Shor, head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Dr. W. Brent Seales developed the software program to read the text inside an ancient scroll. It’s something Luther could never have dreamed of.