From papyrus to pixels: How BibleProject’s videos unpack the Bible

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From papyrus to pixels: How BibleProject’s videos unpack the Bible

June 29, 2022 - Mark Legg

Image courtesy of BibleProject

Image courtesy of BibleProject

The Bible was written over the span of thousands of years by dozens of authors. The ultimate author, through the inspiration of the Spirit, was God. The Bible includes stories about kings from thousands of years ago, nomadic ancient Middle Eastern tribes, poetry, history, teaching, laws, and biographies, all written in the context of their time.

So, what does an ancient Middle Eastern law code about ritual sacrifice have to do with us modern twenty-first-century people who live with the internet, electricity, and smartphones? Even the most faithful Christians get halted by the dreaded book of Leviticus in their Bible reading plan.

I would argue that this is because we often treat the Bible like it’s a “grab bag” of inspiring quotes and take them out of context. We might treat it as a theological dictionary, or an instruction manual. But, all of these ways of reading the Bible will get us into trouble because that’s not how we’re supposed to read it.

The Levitical laws don’t give us very many inspiring quotes, or instructions for today, or define baptism, so we give up and move on to Ephesians. But what if we read the books like the authors intended, listening to them on their own terms?

That’s where the BibleProject comes in.

What is BibleProject?

BibleProject is thoroughly unique, combining biblical scholarship with intentional, beautiful animations that show how the Bible can be “approachable, engaging, and transformative.”

Some of their series include word studies, theme videos, how to read the Bible, and animations that summarize every book of the Bible (yes, even Leviticus!) Their slogan is: “The Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.”

They place special emphasis on how the Bible is “designed.” When we see the Bible in that way, God’s word becomes much richer, and, surprisingly, much more applicable to our lives.

The BibleProject team is led by two friends, Dr. Tim Mackie and Jon Collins. Dr. Mackie is a Hebrew Bible scholar, and Collins is a graphic design artist. They put up their first videos in 2014 and from there amassed a large audience. Their wide selection of videos has around three hundred million views on YouTube. Through their weekly podcast, Dr. Mackie and Collins discuss the subjects of their videos, which are both in-depth and conversational.

Together, they lead an entire studio of graphic design artists and researchers to help regular people engage with the Bible in a more meaningful way. For example, their video on Job, an often confusing and difficult-to-understand book, is their most viewed video on YouTube:

Art and the Bible

We’ve often talked about why art and creativity are so important in God’s kingdom. If we want to be culture-changing Christians, we need to equip artists and creatives and stay open-minded while remaining rooted in God’s word.

BibleProject does not compromise on doctrine or God’s word, yet they practice open-mindedness to make deeper and more meaningful connections with the Bible. While we often want our questions to be resolved with easy answers, sometimes the answers aren’t easy to grasp. It takes deep thinking and reflection, as well as the Spirit’s guidance. And even with thousands of hours of research, mysteries remain. BibleProject helps inspire curiosity, wonder, and insight into living according to God’s will.

In this sense, a particularly striking video is simply titled “God,” and it explores the mystery of the Trinity:

BibleProject’s App, a digital commentary

BibleProject’s team has paved the way for a future of coming alongside followers of Jesus. They provide an app that allows you to read the Bible with notes that connect you to themes and patterns throughout the Bible. For example, you might come across the “tree of life” in Genesis, and it will pull up other passages using that imagery throughout the Bible.

We’ve come far from papyrus scrolls. BibleProject now provides digital, interactive commentaries on the Bible. Of course, the BibleProject team strongly encourages people to read in community, sitting under teaching from preachers and teachers.

In an age where we are disconnected from the Bible by culture and time, BibleProject is using digital media to, perhaps ironically, reconnect us to the roots of the word of God. Their ministry provides free resources that encapsulate the word of God through the writings of dozens of people, making an ancient book more accessible to us in the twenty-first century.

For that, I continue to be grateful.

And I suggest you share their work, use their videos in your church or small group, and be personally encouraged by the modern art they’ve created from the ancient truth of God’s word.

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