Whether one is religious or not, the Bible is an element of culture which is overwhelmingly present in Western Society. It has been the source of inspiration for artists through the millenia and, although we are living in an increasingly non-religious world, its influence is still very much felt in the world of the arts.
The famous book is present not only in the way we think or behave (religious teachings are the basis for western morals) but too often in the arts as well. Literature, theater, films (even sci-fi ones), music – biblical stories are everywhere. Thus, given its importance in our society, the emergence of new ways to interpret it becomes more and more important from a historical point of view, as we loose touch with the source in our daily lives.
Robert Crumb‘s cartoon-like depiction of The Book of Genesis is a milestone in that aspect, for it makes some of the world’s oldest stories accessible to biblical skeptics. In detail-full images, Crumbs illustrations are very revealing in the sense that they help us see what is behind this often overused theme.
I have become quite interested in the Bible for sociologic and historic reasons. This reading exercize has made me realize a couple of things (revelations, one might say): the first one is that it has come to a point of extreme overuse as a theme for art; the second one is that one really has to read it in order to understand the basis of many beliefs one doesn’t even know were religion-based.
Just as sex is irritantingly overused as a subject for the arts, so have become biblical stories. Nonetheless, it is still important to know what came from where, so as to be able to judge the newness of any piece of art.
Newness, novelty, innovation, inspiration, please. A modern prophet might say.
After all, we need to get our heads off of our sins.