good booksChildren of the World Illustrate the Bible
Tel Aviv: Mallmedia Publishing House, 2003

The Faces of Jesus,
by Frederick Buechner, Lee Boltin, and Ray Ripper.
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1974.

Some books are not only good: they are beautiful! Children of the World Illustrate the Bible celebrates the 50th Jubilee Year of the State of Israel. Children from 91 countries submitted hundreds of thousands of paintings. A special group of curators selected  several hundreds which are published in this book. The paintings chosen represented the “personal expression and riveting exposition [of the Bible] without filters, analysis or criticism.” 

This charming book enables us to catch a glimpse of how children view stories in the Bible. They were often very wrong of course. But truth was not what they were after; rather, they were more concerned with making a statement in colour. As we flip gently over the pages, the warm kaleidoscope of colours hit our eyes and is proof of how exciting a child’s perception of the world  must be, how varied and unusual, how innocently they portrayed each biblical event or character. The book is well-designed and is one of the few books that are specially designed to appeal to little children.

A quick glance at the Index at the end shows that some Singapore paintings made it into this book. Several messages emerged for me through these paintings. Their greatest appeal lay in the exciting and arresting images that were presented. Generally the paintings from the West were daring, etched in bold strokes, with splashes of colour. Sometimes they were painstakingly crafted with amazing details crowding every inch of the painting. Sometimes they were rather iconic and mysterious representing some kind of Orthodox belief. A few of the paintings from Poland seemed rather stern and monochromatic. Those from the East tended to present stereotypic figures but their appeal lay in the delicateness of the lines and in their simplicity and childlikeness. One last comment: this book debunks the notion that children don’t understand the Bible or don’t enjoy reading or hearing it. The paintings present a whole array of emotions. They throb with excitement from the ecstatic to the docile. Even the typical ill-proportioned figures of a child expressed an uncanny beauty when it is juxtaposed with playful, comic figures. Do children really understand the Bible? I think they have grasped very well the spirit of the Bible and nudge us closer to its meaning.

The Faces of Jesus serves as a fitting counterfoil to what I have been describing. It goes through the life of Jesus. Sculptures and paintings bring us through a whole gamut of emotions. We see the best of Gothic and ethnic art. The book is based on the quite valid premise that Jesus had a face. But what I disagree with is the statement that “The face of Jesus ... [is] the face of our own secret and innermost destiny” (p.140). Wishful thinking, I thought. Isn’t there something unique about Jesus that cannot be captured in the face of ordinary mortals like ourselves? I ask. I turned to the back of the book and read that the text was written by a novelist who studied at the Union Theological Seminary, a most radical institution. I am not surprised. Yes, the book is unusual, I thought, when I saw a Chinese-looking Christ on p.143. But it is also weird: I spotted a rather macabre French painting of the Last Supper. At times a painting is almost unrecognizable, as in Salvador Dali’s painting of the Last Supper (p.152). The last eight faces of Christ, however, are outstanding (pp.245-253). They were sculptured or painted in bronze, wood, cloisonné enamel and gold, and in beautiful mosaic. If these images could speak, they would certainly insist that their main purpose is to depict Jesus’ struggles. Our Lord Jesus lived and died for us. How then should we live? Listen to the Apostle Paul: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

(Reviewed by Dr Quek Swee  Hwa)

Bessie Ng (BGST student) writes from Dubai concerning last week’s Good Book:

Thank you Dr Quek for the review on museums. I can vouch that museums are never boring! Now that I am in the Middle East , the showcase of museums is fascinating. I have the privilege of seeing so many artefacts in the museums around here. Some I can link to biblical times. I see and read about animals of the Old Testament and about life of the early settlers of the Middle East . They even have information about astrology in the earlier days and how they used the stars to guide their journey. Hence the image and the journey taken by the Magi in coming to Jerusalem to worship Jesus becomes even more vivid and profound. It has been very educational. I am awaiting for opportunities to visit the museums in Jordan and Syria and Oman . The only problem is that there are not enough enthusiasts of museums to really discuss what I see.

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel on 10 March was taken by Dr John Lim. He read from Phil. 4:8-13 and spoke on the topic, “Contentment That Starts Today And Lasts Forever.”

Many people today are not contented because they constantly practice the “when/then” syndrome. And in order for us to break this syndrome, we need to be grateful, practice being actively grateful and know that inner peace is something we learn, not something we achieve. And as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the indwelling Spirit of God to help us achieve it.

Chapel Speaker on 24 March will be Dr Aquila Lee.

NEWS BITS

  1. Introduction to Biblical Archaeology (OT/NT 186). The last two sessions will be on Saturday, March 20 and Saturday, April 3, 5.30-8.30 pm .

  2. Ancient Cities (1.5 credits) by Dr Michael Pucci and Dr Quek Swee Hwa is an elective in Archaeology. It explores not just the layout of the city, but especially what city life was like in ancient times, how political intrigues spelt the doom of many cities, and the religious aspirations. 

  3. The Annual General Meeting of BGST will be held on Saturday, 20 March, at 1.00pm in Room 3-02, preceded by lunch at 12.00 pm .

  4. Developing A Missions-Involved Church by Dr John Lim, commences on 26 March and will be covered over four Friday afternoons ( 3-5pm ).
    "Missions is the heartbeat of God."  No growing Christian will deny that.  Therefore, any child of God or organization that wants to feel this heartbeat must seek in one way or another to get involved in missions.  This course is designed for those who want to partner with God in transforming their local church into a missions-involved church.  Biblical foundations will be complemented by methods that have proven to be effective in developing a missions-involved church.  Some local churches will share their experiences.  The student will also be introduced to a church model and provided with practical guidelines for developing an effective missions programme in his/her church.

  5. Counselling Skills: Dealing with Crisis Situations by Mr Yam Keng Mun, will be commencing on 31 March over four Wednesday sessions ( 7-10pm ).
    This course is designed to assist students to examine common community emergencies and crises from birth to death. Useful for pastors, ministry workers, lay counselors and those who may be assigned responsibilities in emergencies and crisis situations, students will be familiarized with the common types of crises including health-related, people, life-cycle and spiritual crises. Attention is given to programmatic and therapeutic responses to crisis. Incorporated are also counseling techniques for crisis intervention.

  6. Renovation work at the Church premise is in progress. If you are visiting our Library and offices, kindly bear with the noise and inconveniences caused for about a week or two.

  7. Appeal For Sponsorship. Our current LCD projector which is about 5 years old is malfunctioning during classes. In order for us to serve students better, we need to replace the LCD projector. We will be grateful if anyone can either donate a 2nd hand working projector with a short throw length and at least 1200 ANSI lumens or donate towards the purchase of a new projector. The cost of a new projector that meets our requirements is approx. $2000 - $3000. If you are able to contribute in any way, kindly contact Serene at 63538071. THANK YOU!

A BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO ...

Mr Kenneth Tan  15/3

Ms Bessie Ng  16/3

Mr Paul Yap  16/3

Mr Tan Chek Wu  17/3

Rev David Wong  18/3

Mr Ong Chai Lin  19/3

Mr Loo Cheng Koon  19/3

Ms Pauline Koh  19/3

Mr Edmund Koh  20/3

Dr Lee Soo Ann  21/3

Dr Patrick Chan  21/3

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