Manga Messiah was the very first entry into this six volume series. Script Writer Hidenori Kumai is tasked with writing the most important volume of its series: The story of Jesus.
The story of Jesus has been retold countless times. I won’t be doing that, but I will say this volume does an admirable job of retelling Yeshua’s life from the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I will instead share my random thoughts I noticed throughout these pages.
This volume begins with Miriyam and Yosef’s relationship. Right away readers will notice their names are spelled in Hebrew. This means Jesus is addressed as Yeshua. This adds a layer of authenticity which is a nice touch. While this edition does not say which Bible translation it uses, I am certain they use the NLT.
As with these Manga volumes, there is minimal text. While this makes the content easy to digest, there will be some missing details. The context is either brushed by or rushed through along with several time jumps. But some of these missing details work to its own advantage when it comes to the accuracy of scripture. When it comes to the birth of Yeshua, there was no mention of an innkeeper offering a space for Miriyam and Yosef. This is in fact true. The Bible does not mention an innkeeper. The Bible does not mention a stable. There is also no mention of three wise men. There could have been three, but no actual amount is known. I also always thought the wise men were present right at Yeshua's birth, which is also not true. They came to visit when Yeshua was about two years of age. All these corrected details blew my mind. For years, I believed in these inaccurate details from all those Christmas productions. So the Manga Bible got quite a few details right.
The only missing detail to my knowledge that they could have added was Yeshua showing the pierced hole in his hand to Thomas. Other than that, this volume has a mixture of unscripted words and scenes. This can be expected from a summarized illustrated Bible. But I was not expecting this bizarre addition of John holding a microphone while talking. No joke. John is holding a microphone. I don’t know if this was for comedic purposes, but it is a strange thing to illustrate. There is also an unscripted scene of Satan tempting Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane which results in him stomping on a snake’s head. There is no mention of this scene in the Bible, and I would not be surprised if it borrowed this exact scene from the 2004 movie, The Passion of The Christ.
When it comes to violence, this volume handles it in a responsible manner. The only graphic scene is a nail being hammered into Yeshua’s hand. Other than that, a lot of the violent scenes have little to no blood or graphic details. The slaughtering of all the two year old boys in Bethlehem had blood and silhouettes of their bodies. They did not show in detail the beheading of John the Baptist or even Peter slicing off the ear of Malchus, the Jewish high priest servant who tried to arrest Yeshua. To my surprise, Yeshua being whipped and hung on the cross had minimal blood. So the violence I would say is quite mild considering what is actually mentioned in the Bible.
There were some interesting details I learned or was reminded of. I always thought Yeshua cleansed the temple once, but John records a second cleansing about 3 years after the original one. I did not know that God spoke out loud three times. I was also reminded by how many miracles and exorcisms Yeshua performed. Yeshua healed a lot of people. Whether they were lame, blind, sick, or even dead; They all regained their health and life back because of him. Yet that was still not enough miracles for many more to not trust and believe him.
The only unfortunate part of this volume is how rushed the last third of it becomes. From the time Jesus is sentenced to death, all the way to his resurrection, it had a faster pace to it. This was a missed opportunity to expand and detail two of the most important events that are cornerstones of Christianity. To give perspective, the first eight chapters consisted of 102 pages, while the last eight chapters consisted of 68 pages.
It is clear that the Manga Bible Series has always lacked details, but I will say this volume lacks the least amount. Which is crucial considering this is about the most important figure of not only Christianity, but of human history. Almost every parable, miracle, and conversation was mentioned. Inexperienced readers of the Bible will find the character and map profiles helpful. The many scripture references will also help provide context as well. One thing is for certain about this series. No matter how many times one has read the Bible, even Manga has a way of teaching new things.
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