Friday, June 10, 2016

Book recommendation: Visual Exegesis, Vol. 1

I would like to call your attention to a book written by Chris Powers, an artist whose ministry Full of Eyes I have recommended to you before. Powers describes the ministry,
Full of Eyes uses still and moving pictures as a means of proclaiming the beauty of God in His Son to the hearts and minds of people around the world.
Powers creates Gospel tracts, animations for music, study curricula to go along with the animations, and now, his book. Here is my Amazon review of the book, Visual Exegesis, Vol. 1


Beautifully rendered, sensitive drawings, June 7, 2016
I recommend Visual Exegesis, Vol. 1 whole-heartedly. Visual exegesis, or visual theology, has been part of our faith since John Bunyan’s "Map Showing the Order and Causes of Salvation and Damnation" was published in 1691. Visual exegesis is simply an image or a collection of images that display in pictorial form, truths from the Bible. Powers makes clear in his introduction what his intent is, which is to approach the Bible with the mindset of a pastor, except instead of exegeting the word with word, to exegete the word with picture, noting that picture doesn’t ever supplant the word. 
Doctrinal concepts are difficult to visualize but Powers has done a masterful job of applying picture to even the most abstract of verses. His representation of Jeremiah 17:11 and Genesis 3:15 come immediately to mind. The pictures in his book are arranged by theme, which include Awaiting Immanuel, Behold Your God, Made Alive, Growth, Suffering and Perseverance, and Turning the Title Page, with a total of 35 biblical scriptures pictorially represented. Powers asks the question Can We Draw Pictures Representing Jesus? and offers his interpretation of the Second Commandment on the question in answer. 
The drawings themselves are beautifully rendered, sensitive, and in some cases tearfully moving or thoroughly convicting. The book is packaged in a 8X8 dimension, so it's large enough to examine the pictures in detail but small enough to carry comfortably. Each depiction is accompanied by a thorough written explanation using scripture on the opposite page. 
I've followed Powers since he founded his ministry and his growth is obviously Spirit-led and solid. His work is outstanding and I look forward to volume 2! I give the book 5 stars for its doctrinal credibility and illustrative beauty.

Portuguese and Spanish versions are coming soon. Powers is committed to offering his work for free. All of it made available to you at no cost. You may download the free PDF here:
http://www.fullofeyes.com/project/visual-exegesis-vol-i/ However if you choose, you can support FOE by buying the book on Amazon.

Chris Powers photo

Here are some things one can keep in mind as you travel the road of visual exegesis. These bullet points are from Donovan McAbee, at Belmont University, from a class that teaches visual exegesis as a mode of interpretation,

  • How does the artist understand the biblical story?
  • How does the artist’s interpretation of the passage compare to your own understanding?
  • What aspects of the characters or scene does the artist emphasize?
  • Considering the biographical sketch of the artist and the historical period in which they lived, why might they interpret the passage as they do?
  • Compare the differences between the pieces and consider why the various interpretations exist.
The effectiveness of this activity hinges largely on the immediacy of the visual arts in offering an interpretation of a passage. While reading different scholarly sources of biblical criticism will ultimately lead students to recognize the influence of history, theology, and other cultural factors on biblical exegesis, the visual arts do so in a more spectacular and immediately evident way...

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