Although I've read Genesis before, this time around I couldn't stop thinking about all the aspects of it that are so blatantly going against Christian morals. Just to name a few, the second half is full of deceit, polygamy, murder, and worshipping idols. The whole situation with Jacob marrying 2 women and then having 11 kids with them and their maids just blows my mind. I'm not necessarily criticizing it but rather in shock that I don't think people associate all of this with Genesis.
There are various parts in these chapters that discuss sex and the words alone are one thing but Crumb’s images add a lot. There is the part in chapter 19 when Lot’s two daughters conspire to get him drunk and sleep with him to continue his bloodline. Reading these words is unsettling but the images make it so much more disturbing. Crumb depicts these sections in the same literal manner as he does everything else, so seeing these images in relation to these words just makes me feel that the bible is much more disturbing and unsettling then I every would have thought the bible could be. The graphic images, to me at least, point out that the preconceptions of the bible always being this wholesome thing aren’t exactly correct.
While reading the next chapters of Crumb's Genesis, I couldn't help but notice how sexual his illustrations are. Prior to reading Crumb's Genesis, I never imagined the book would be illustrated this way. I understand Crumb is extremely satirical, however, I do not find all of his illustrations appropriate for this particular text. In Chapter 19, there is an image of Abraham with his daughters. The image, portraying human sacrifice, consists of a naked woman with her large chest completely exposed. As if that is not a detailed enough image, she is on her back with her chest thrusting forward. I feel as if the image was a bit extreme and that the woman did not need to be portrayed with such extreme features. Crumb illustrates the women figures of the Genesis throughout the entire book. All women have large chests, curvy bodies, and over exaggerated body characteristics. In a way I feel as if Crumb is insulting women; however, I understand that he is known for his satirical, exaggerated illustrations.
I also was surprised by the extremely graphic nature of Genesis (not to sound like a broken record here). Thinking about this in relation to the fact that Crumb is a well known satirist and atheist in addition to the fact that he claims that this book is not meant to be satirical, i think he is trying to make a point here. To me he is saying: "This book is so ridiculous and contradictory to your beliefs, that I don't even have to do anything to make fun of it, it does it by itself" .This is more of an insult than any satirical interpretation could ever be. (To be fair, take my opinions about the bible with a grain of salt; I am also an atheist who believes organized religion to be of great harm to humanity)
After reading further into Alter and Crumb's respective versions of Genesis, I began to notice a significant contrast between the way people are depicted in the two books. In Alter's Genesis, it seems to be God's story and the people involved are figures to demonstrate how God reacts to particular situations. The people are hardly multi-dimensional and most of their lives seem to revolve around or be defined by a decision or action to which God then reacts. However, in Crumb's Genesis, despite the fact that the text basically remains the same, his illustrations allow the reader to conceptualize the people as just that: real people. The graphicness, emotion, and individual distinctness in appearance all help create a Genesis as the peoples' story; a story overseen by a divine creator.
The story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son has always been really disturbing to me. Crumb's illustrations make it even worse, particularly how he shows Issac's facial expressions. At the start of their journey, Issac is smiling, happy to be helping his dad, unaware that his dad is planning on murdering him. The irony of the situation is really unsettling and it seems as if God is playing mind tricks on Abraham by asking him to do such a horrible thing. Its weird that such a manipulative act is associated with God, who is also displayed as the "ultimate good."
After having read Genesis multiple times before I did not find too many differences in Alter's version that stuck out too me. The only real noticeable one was when an angel was speaking to Hagar and said that her son would be a man that would lead to a great nation, this section of text I have always remembered reading that he would be a wild donkey of a man cast out by others. The rest of the text seemed very close to other translations, only easier to read because of the language used.Crumb had some interesting illustrations for this section that put different images in my head than I had thought of before. When Gomorrah was destroyed, I had always pictured it with a solid pillar of fire consuming the city, not that it was raining down. Most of the other images in the book were as I had originally imagined them, Crumb does a great job with depicting the sides of people and does not try to leave out some of the bad things that people did in the Bible, and I feel like that is a good call because that is not how it is meant to be portrayed, they aren't perfect people in Genesis.
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After reading the first half of both novels, I tried to read the second half in a non-bias way whether believing in God or not. I found it interesting in 2 similar but also very different stories of Able and Cain as well as Jacob and Esau. Both stories pertain to brothers, one of better availabilities than the other. in Able and Cain's story, God punished Cain for killing Able where in Jacob and Esau story, Jacob is not punished for his wrong doings. What I found a bit interesting though is in the end both Cain and Jacob seem to prosper for the better and not for worse. What does this say about the powers of God? Is he teaching that the power of evil can go unnoticed or is he maybe doing this to teach a lesson on redemption on what evils have been brought into the world so good and righteousness can once again be restored?