BibleProject

Understanding the structure of the Bible with illustrations

Christian Shimbun, February 9, 2020
Translated by Grace Koshino

As many youth turn to online videos to learn about the world and 5G wireless technology is increasingly popular, an online video series called BibleProject has been created to reach the younger generation.

Each book of the Old and New Testament is stylishly explained with solid Bible teaching through a series of YouTube videos. In the overview of each book, pictures and graphics are displayed as the narrator takes the viewer through the Bible. The viewer can follow the events of the Bible through the visuals. The overview of the book and its context is kept in mind throughout the video, and each section is put together to create one final overarching illustration as each video closes. This allows the viewer to see how each of the chapters link to each other and to understand the bigger picture. Each video is seven to eight minutes long.

Taking Psalms as an example, the narrator explains that the book has a “unique design and message . . . which (the reader) won’t notice unless it is read from beginning to end.” He then explains that it can be divided up into five sections, and that Psalm 1, which focuses on the Torah (the five books of Moses), and Psalm 2, which describes the Messianic King, serve as a foundation for the rest of the psalms. The video also points out that the first three sections of the Psalms contain many poems of lament, whereas the fourth and fifth sections have more poems of praise. The video explains that this shift from lament to praise tells us “not to ignore the pain in our lives,” but also that “biblical faith is forward-looking, looking to the promise of God’s future messianic kingdom.”

BibleProject originated in America (bibleproject.com) and was created with the mission to “help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” University friends Timothy Mackie, a Bible scholar, and Jonathan Collins, an animation producer, teamed up after sharing ideas of how they could help people read Scripture. They created their first two videos in 2014, and gradually people joined them to help with production. They now have over 140 videos. The American production team consists of theologians, animators, illustrators, web designers, and marketers.

Project manager for the Japanese team, Hishō Uga, took an interest in BibleProject when he came across it four years ago and was eager to create the Japanese version. Production started last year, with the help of the Grace & Mercy Foundation.

Instead of simply adding subtitles, the Japanese version replaced all of the text in each animation. A Japanese team of illustrators, animators, narrators, translators, and staff from a student outreach group came together to produce the Japanese videos. “The script is built on solid biblical teaching, yet the language is simple. Due to the differences in the English and Japanese grammar, the illustrations and animations had to be readjusted and the choice of words and nuances had to be changed to be understandable for Japanese viewers,” Uga explained. The Japanese version can be followed smoothly thanks to the team’s efforts.

Uga and his team began to put Japanese videos online just before Christmas 2019. Some videos gathered more than 7,000 views within a month. “We aim to upload four new videos a month. We also plan to add subtitles to the videos for the hearing-impaired. Please check our YouTube channel, 聖書プロジェクト (“BibleProject” in Japanese). It is helpful material for personal devotions as well as for group studies,” says Uga. 

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