Brendan Powell Smith has spent a lot of time with Lego bricks. He’s spent about a decade building scenes from the Bible for his website, The Brick Testament, and he shows no sign of slowing down. His latest endeavor is a large softcover print edition called The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament. The title is slightly misleading, as it only contains stories from 13 of the 66 39 books of the Old Testament, but that’s still enough to fill 270 pages of photos of Lego re-enactments of famous (and not-so-famous) moments in Biblical history.
Smith’s stated purpose for this one-man labor of love is: “to present the Bible’s content in a new, engaging, and fun way, and yet also to remain faithful to the way the Bible itself tells these stories.” He states that it’s surprising how so many people hold the Bible in high regard but haven’t actually read it, much like Shannon Wheeler’s comment about his upcoming project, God Is Disappointed in You. It should probably come as no surprise that Smith also tends to incorporate a lot of the stories that are a bit bloody, bawdy, or bizarre.
Of course, most of the well-known stories are here: Creation, Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah’s ark, the Tower of Babel. Abram’s covenant with Yahweh, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the beginnings of the Hebrew nation. Joseph and his coat, Moses and all the various stories about him. You get Samson and Delilah (Samson’s growing hair is delightfully rendered), and a lot of slaughtering (which requires a lot of translucent red Lego pieces). Then, of course, the story of David and Goliath and many of David’s interactions with King Saul.
There are entire sections about the wars between the Hebrews and various other peoples living in the territories, which takes up a large section of the Old Testament that tends to get skimmed over, but these are done in pretty rapid succession. Sometimes I found it surprising that he left out certain stories, either because I felt they were pretty well-known or because they’re pretty humorous. For instance, he tells the story of Gideon and how he selected his army, but leaves out the bit about the fleece. And one that I was sure he’d include didn’t make the cut: Elijah and the bears, when some kids called him a baldy and two bears came out of the woods and devoured them all. It seemed like exactly the sort of thing that would look great in Lego.
Leviticus and Numbers get significantly abridged, but it makes sense since a lot of that is harder to illustrate. And, of course, since the book stops after Chronicles, we don’t get the story of Job, Jonah, or many of the other prophets, some of whom had some very interesting stories associated with them. At any rate, The Brick Bible is a whopper of a book. Whether you’re religious or not, you can probably appreciate the time and effort it took to piece together all of these scenes, and even to find ways to make particular characters stand out, whether through costumes or faces.
I should note that The Brick Bible, much like the real Bible, is full of violence, nudity, and sex* (although depicted in Lego, so not necessarily as explicit). If you give it to your younger kids to read, be prepared to explain things like “circumcision” or “concubine.”
For an idea of what the book is like, head over to The Brick Testament and check out some of the pages there. Many of the images in the book are similar to the ones on the website, but they have been reformatted and laid out to read well as a book rather than a series of individual photos.
*Update: A keen reader noticed a few errors in my post, so here are my corrections: 66 is the number of books in the Protestant Bible, Old + New Testament, not the number of books in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible), which is between 39 and 51 depending on whether you include the apocrypha. Also, I should clarify that the photos themselves depict a lot of violence and some nudity (i.e., yellow-pants minifigs), but there aren’t actual images of sex. However, there is sex in the text itself (often phrased as “lay with”).
Disclosure: Skyhorse Publishing provided GeekDad with a review copy.