Throughout the thirteen years of spending my Sunday's in a classroom with a nun, CCD provided me with a mental image of God and the other characters in the bible without ever really looking at an artist portrayal. While always being taught that God is forgiving, and God loves his people, the first book of the bible shows the more vengeful side of the lord. The illustrations provided by Robert Crumb exemplify that Christian/Judea God seeks retribution for the wrong-doings of his creations. This can especially be seen in the story of Adam and Eve, and the story of Noah.
God in this rendition of the bible has the traditional image of the all knowing face with the flowing white robe and the long white hair and beard. Something that is not traditionally depicted in religious imagery is the expression on his face. When Eve makes the mistake of eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and sharing it with Adam, the readers see, for the first time, the extreme anger that is radiating from the eyes of God. The harsh punishments being dealt to Adam and Eve can really be felt with the images that are provided. The emphasis is put on the faces of the characters. Adam is sweating and looks completely defeated while standing next to Eve, and in the following panel, Eve has exaggerated tears falling from her eyes. The words in this scene as God dishes out his punishment already strike fear in the hearts of many, but paired with the the images, Crumb adds a whole nother layer to the nightmare that Adam and Eve are going through. Some would say that the idea behind the stories of the bible is to scare the readers into behaving according to the laws of religion, and the images depicting the extreme suffering of the sinners really pushes that fear to a different level.
God's vengeful face can be seen again in the story of Noah in chapter six, but the imagery of the sins of man is another aspect of the bible that is being brought to life. The sentence in the bible" As men began to multiply over the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, that the divine beings saw that the daughters of man were comely and they took themselves wives howsoever they pleased," very simply puts than men took the women they wanted as wives in whatever way they saw fit. While this notion is terrible, the images that Crumb provides really enhances the horror felt by the women subjected to this treatment. The panic stricken face and the fear in the eyes of the woman as she's forcefully being carried off by a strong, angry-looking man really drives the point home that this is something that ought not to be done. And this, of course, brings us back to the anger of God when he decides to wipe the earth clean of men and beasts and starts over with Noah and his family. One of the panels when God is expressing his regret for his creations is a close up on his face, and it really shows how passionate man has made him when it comes to correcting his error. His brow is furrowed, his eyes are angry, and he is clearly gritting his teeth. At this point, the readers who fear the wrath of God could really start to shake when seeing the images of man and beast drowning in the flood waters.
What Robert Crumb really adds to the messages of the bible with his illustrations is the emotions that are supposed to be felt by the readers. He elevates everything to another level. When someone can see how angry God is, or can see the suffering of the sinners, they are more likely to play into that fear that beckons them to do the right thing and follow more closely to the word of the lord.