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Blob goes the Gospel story

09 January 2015


HE MAY not be the first person to dedicate his life to translating the Bible, but Ian Long is probably the first to do so without using words.

Beginning with Jonah ("It's very dynamic, with a lot of emotional breadth"), he has begun translating all 66 books into illustrated form, using the "Blobs" (above). The Blobs first came to life 20 years ago, as a means of helping his friend Pip Wilson in his work with young people.

The latest addition is the Gospel of Mark - his first attempt to translate a book from the New Testament. A Blob with flames in his heart depicts John the Baptist, and Jesus is shown as a Blob with a heart symbol in his chest.

"I came up with the idea of the heart to reflect that God is love," Mr Long said on Tuesday. "After the book of Acts, all the Christians I draw will have the symbol of the heart in them, to show that the Holy Spirit has come. John the Baptist has a heart that is one fire, alive by the Spirit of God."

The most challenging passage in Mark was, he said, the one that explains the rules for the sabbath: "It's a very slow discussion, whereas most of the others have a bit of action to them."

He hopes that the books will be used in many fields, including international mission. As a former primary-school teacher, he is confident that images help people to learn more effectively: "You remember ten per cent of what you hear, but 40 per cent of what you see."

Churches could project the images on to screens, he suggests, to help illustrate sermons. Adults, as well as children, are welcome to colour-in the Blobs. A full-colour version is available that can be used on smartphones, tablets, computers, and interactive whiteboards.

It was Mr Wilson who first challenged Mr Long to tell a story, and it was while reading the Bible on his iPhone in church that he came up with the idea of telling the story of the books contained within it. Jonah, Ruth, Philemon, and Mark are now completed, and he aims to finish 28 by the end of this year. The remainder will take many years, he imagines. "My aim is to spend the rest of my life doing it." He admits that he may leave Numbers and Leviticus until last.


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