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
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
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