All great journeys begin with a vision.
An important journey that will soon conclude with the publication of the new Jerusalem Illustrated Bible has combined two visions: one of The Bible Society in Israel and the other of an accomplished Israeli artist and his personal insights into meaning, language and art.
A “faith-based organization,” The Bible Society in Israel has, for nearly 200 years, sought “to walk in accordance to the Word of God…to obey the law of the land,” and to “Speak to the Heart of Jerusalem,” by maintaining an accessible visitor center in the city.
“For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”
According to Victor Kalisher, general director of the Society, The Jerusalem Illustrated Bible is intended to be a family Bible that restores the Messianic Jewish heritage of the scriptures.
“We live in a time when for the first time since the time of Yeshua, there are full families of Jewish followers of Yeshua and even second and third generation,” Kalisher told KNI. “Most biblical illustrations were foreign to Jewish culture and therefore also not authentic. This of course helped in further separating Jews and Christians, Judaism and Christianity.
“The same is true for the Jewish names in the New Testament. For example, Yeshua was changed to Jesus, Miriam to Mary and even YHVH changed to The Lord. Not to mention the name James instead of Yaacov (Jacob).”
Kalisher explained that in this edition, the illustrations are authentic to the roots of the scriptures and is environmentally and culturally relevant to the times.
“Our desire is to encourage the Messianic body around the world and also to bless all believers of all backgrounds with…a Bible with authentic beautiful illustrations…aligned with the people and context to whom God has entrusted His Word,” he continued. “We included both Hebrew and English texts, side by side in this [new] Bible edition as the majority of Messianic Jews still live outside of Israel and we wanted them to connect with their Jewish-Hebrew roots.”
All the new Bible’s illustrations are the work of Tzur Hadassah resident, Elhanan ben-Avraham, a Messianic Jewish artist who, during his 40-year life in the land, has created art ranging in scale from a 45-foot biblical mural featured at Jerusalem’s YMHA – Beit HaNoar HaIvri – to delicate, letter-sized watercolors and minuscule line drawings.
“I sat back one day and mentally took stock of the biblical art I had generated since coming to live in Israel in 1979,” ben-Avraham told KNI. “It struck me, simply in terms of quantity, that I had drawn, sketched and painted enough pieces, based on so many different Old and New Testament accounts, to illustrate an entire Bible.”
Kalisher expects the Bible to be printed this year or early 2019.
“We trust and pray with you that this Bible will be a blessing to many people of all ages and to full families, to encourage them in their faith and support their growth in the knowledge of God and to His glory,” he said.
Kalisher added that the Bible Society in Israel needs financial support and would appreciate any individuals and organizations who would partner with them to financially back the project.