Book Reviews

Life with St BenedictReviews of Life with St Benedict are on the BRF Online website (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Reviews’).

Richard has also reviewed a number of other BRF publications:

And these books for Preach Magazine (only available in print copies):

  • All Things New by Pete Hughes
  • Defying the Holocaust by Tim Dowley
  • Holy Attention edited by Frances Ward and Richard Sudworth
  • Leading a Church to Maturity in Love David R Tomlinson

And a review of The Word for Word Bible Comic – The Gospel of Matthew   
Illustrated by Simon Amadeus Pillario

With a dislike of graphic novels and being of a certain generation whose understanding  of a ‘comic’ lies in the pages of Eagle, Tiger and the wonderful, yet short-lived, Cor!!, I approached the Word for Word Bible Comic with, I admit, a degree of scepticism. I am glad to equally admit I was wrong to do so.

This is the sixth in the Word for Word series, and it’s clear that converting the whole of Matthew’s Gospel, word for word, in to a comic novel is an enormous undertaking for which the illustrator and his team are to be thanked. A crowd-funded, self-published book, at over 240 pages it’s a long read – but there again so is Matthew’s Gospel. The book is well-researched and also includes a factual section about  key figures and the writing and purpose of Gospels. Maps are also included and they provide helpful context.

Inevitably, by adopting an unabridged approach, the text is dense at times but the drawings are professional, high quality and convey both the drama and the message of Jesus’ life and ministry. Colour is used to convey particular themes (pink hues for parables, for example) but the predominance of greys and browns make it uneasy on the eye at times. There is humour in the drawings though – the baby Jesus eating a rusk biscuit, for example – and it’s good to see there are more than three wise men.

Passolini’s film, The Gospel of St Matthew paints a picture of the ‘uncomfortable Jesus’: a man who would have been difficult to live with. The Word for Word Bible Comic takes a similar approach and with its graphic images and 12+ content rating it is an uncomfortable read – but that in itself highlights how the Gospel message has often been sanitised.

This is a publication which will appeal to lovers of graphic novels but will require a well-grounded faith to take the challenges the images present. That said, it is a contemporary and thought-provoking way of conveying the Gospel message to the current generation.

Adopting earlier versions of the saying, Banksy once said ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ The Word for Word Bible Comic certainly does that.

The Word for Word Bible Comic – The Gospel of Matthew was published on 4 September 2020 by Word for Word Bible Comics. Price £15.99 (digital versions also available).