We continue on with our three part review of the Kingstone Bible. In 2017, we looked at Volume I and how it claims to be the most complete graphic adaptation of the Bible. And this is true. To this day, there has been no other series that has matched or surpassed what Kingstone has accomplished. But the key words are "most complete" because it does not cover EVERY book of the Bible. As we look at Volume II, there are a few books omitted. There are no books of Lamentations, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, and Ecclesiastes. Psalms is also missing with only one chapter found in Volume I. The books of Proverbs, Isaiah, Ezra, and Song of Songs have only a few chapters.
To no surprise, these volumes are the same format and style. Having said that, I dont want to repeat too much of what I have already said from the last review. It is obvious the art style continues to remain stunning and colourful. It is also obvious the art style has major shifts from time to time. Volume II has the same format as volume I. It starts with a credits page, an introduction note from Art Ayris, a table of contents, and a Bible and History timeline. Volume II has 48 less pages than volume I at 672. That does not make much of a difference from its massive size and weight. This is not easy to hold or read without a flat surface to lay it on.
Volume II is about the rise and fall of Israel, the exile of Judah, and the major and minor prophets. It continues on where it left off from Volume I where king David builds an altar for the Lord. It starts in the book of 1 Kings where king David is nearing his death and appoints his son, Solomon as his successor.
There is no question a lot of details are missing from these comic book bibles. But I am also learning details on parts of the Bible I have glossed over in the past. For example, I overlooked the importance of Joash being hidden by his aunt from the power hungry Queen Athaliah. She massacred the royal family to become Queen. Joash was the only surviving son to preserve the line of David. He became king of Judah at 7 years of age. I was fascinated how God used the bones of Elishas dead body to resurrect a man. Moabites would raid the kingdom of Israel every spring. So when two Israelite men were trying to bury a dead body, they saw yet another raid, and were forced to throw the body into Elishas tomb. Soon as the body touched Elishas bones, Gods power brought that man back to life. This is an incredible miracle that is not spoken about much. I also learned about how brutal king Menahem of Israel was. It literally says that he was brutal. He assassinated the previous king to gain power. When the people of Tappuah did not accept him as king, he destroyed its city and its surrounding communities. What makes him an absolute brutal king, is that he ripped open all the pregnant women because the people did not open their gates to him.
I had no idea that God sent an angel of the Lord to put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. This was to protect the kingdom of Judah during Hezekiahs reign. Hezekiah prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians and was one of the few good kings that honored God. When it comes to the administrators who conspired to have Daniel thrown into the lions den, I knew the plan backfired. What I did not know was that it was not only them that were thrown into the lions den. It was their wives and children too. These are the kind of details I appreciate learning about from reading this volume.
There were also some funny moments; at least for me it was funny. For example, In 1 Kings 20: 35-36, one of Gods prophets commands this bystander to strike him as an order from God. He refuses, and because of his disobedience, a lion was sent to kill him once he left. Or how about when king Ahaziah tried to have Elijah arrested. He sends a captainand fifty men to bring Elijah to him. But once Elijah says, If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men. That is exactly what happens. The part I find funny is how stubborn and foolish king Ahaziah is as he sends another captain of fifty men. And the same exact thing happens. So king Ahaziah lost two captains and one hundred men. He sends yet a third group and finally learns his lesson. He submits to Elijahs God and asks Elijah for permission to see him. He could have saved 102 lives had he asked nicely.
There is also Elisha who was being mocked by some young men at Bethel. To mock one of Gods prophets was to mock God himself. Elisha asks God to discipline these men. So What does God do? He sends two bears that maul 42 of the young men. Imagine that. Because Elisha was insulted for his bald head, God sends two bears to attack these young men. Elisha must have loved Gods retribution for him. Then there is finally Jeremiah who gives the people of Jerusalem a message from God. He says that they will be safe if they remain in Mizpah. He clearly tells them that if they run to Egypt, they will be taken by war, hunger, and plague. So what do they do? The very next statement says that "The People Fled to Egypt." Not only that, they worshiped other gods in Egypt. It is crazy the immense disobedience they violate towards God.
Of course there will always be creative liberties taken with comic book Bibles. Kingstone is no exception. Some of those liberties are in the form of vulgar language, made up characters, or made up events. Comic books are not meant to be text heavy. So this a bit of a work around when trying to convey a text heavy book such as the Bible. Here are a few examples of some creative liberties taken. King Nebuchadnezzar called his soldiers "women" in a derogatory way. He even did this a second time a few pages later. He also called his field commanders "jackasses". There is also this Persian commander calling king Belshazzar a "drunken ape". None of these discussions or characterizations are found in the Bible. There are also made up names of the administrators who conspired against Daniel to have him killed. Prinides and Trilarius were named as the high ranking officials that tried to get Daniel killed. But those are names and characters not mentioned in the Bible. There are finally made up events such as King Nebuchanezzar dealing with an execution before summoning Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedndego. It is very likely King Nebuchanezzar did carry out executions to those who disobeyed his rule. But this particular one during Daniel chapter 3 is not recorded in the Bible. One could assume this is to emphasize how ruthless king Nebuchanezzar was. These are a few of what can be many examples of creative liberty found in these volumes of the Kingstone Bible. It is either to set up what will happen next, or add context to the current story at hand.
Some will take issue with this as not being faithful to the Biblical texts. To be fair, many of these examples are found in pages that do not reference scripture. Any pages that do not have scriptural references are the areas where creative liberty is taken. Readers have the task to make sure there are references at the bottom. They should also have a Bible on hand to cross-reference these passages. This is because they may believe some of these things are true and did happen in the Bible when they in fact did not.
There are also a few problems and inaccuracies that Kingstone may need to address or clarify. One example is the father of Abijah. They clearly state that it is king Rehoboam that died and his son Abijah came to the throne. But the very next page, it states that Abijah succeeded his father Jeroboam. So who is Abjiahs father? Rehoboam or Jeroboam? Well it depends which Abijah you are talking about. Because most of the confusion has to do with that both king Rehoboam of Judah and king Jeroboam of Israel had a son named Abijah. Jeroboam had two sons and Rehoboam had seven (that are named of in the Bible). But Jeroboams son Abijah is only mentioned in one brief verse in 1 Kings 14:1. It speaks on how Abijah fell sick and that is it. It was Jeroboams only other son, Nadab that succeeded him as king. So there is nowhere in scripture that says Abijah succeeded his father Jeroboam as king.
Another problem is what Elisha uses to split the Jordan river with. Kingstone is correct in saying that Elijah split the river with his cloak. But when it is Elisha that strikes the Jordan river, it shows him using his staff rather than the same cloak Elijah used. This may not be accurate. In 2 Kings 2: 13 - 14, it appears to say that Elisha took Elijahs cloak, and struck the river with it. Now it is possible this verse could be interpreted as Elisha simply taking ownership of the cloak, rather than striking the river with it. But there is no mention of him striking the river with his staff as seen in the Kingstone Bible. Also, verse 13 is to establish that Elisha took ownership of the cloak. While verse 14 is to establish that he used that cloak to strike the Jordan river. I know that these are all small petty details, but these are the kind of things to look out for when reading a comic book Bible. Kingstone is not accurate in all its details.
To my surprise, the violence is not as prominent as I would expect. Considering that it speaks on a very violent period of time, there was little that felt disturbing. There are arrows and swords piercing bodies, but a lot of the violence is spoken of rather than shown. There are bodies burned from the extreme heat of fire, but there is no gore. I would say some of the most violent images that may be disturbing were the dismembered hands of Jezebel. It shows an image of her hands in blood lying on the ground. And there is also the image of a baby being put into a large fire. You can imagine how disturbing it would be to think of a baby being burned to death.
The stories I enjoyed the most were of Daniel and Esther. Not only were these some of the longest stories of this volume, but they were the most engaging. Both figures served critical roles in being used by God. Daniels faithfulness to God led to the eventual deliverance of the Jews back to their land. Esthers faithfulness to God led to the protection of the Jews in Persia from being killed.
If there was one main theme I discovered over and over again in this volume, it is that God is with us. Even in the most dire circumstances, God promises to restore us from captivity. It does not have to be the captivity that the Jews experienced. Today it is often our hearts and our minds that make us feel like prisoners. But no matter how hopeless our situation appears, God will never leave us. If we remain faithful and obedient to God, he will be with us and protect us always. Kingstone volume II does a remarkable job displaying that theme.
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