Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 10.51.19Over at the Scripture Engagement website Michelle Peterson gives a summary and links for her article Avoiding Visual Miscommunication: Choosing Illustrations for Translated Scripture. I’ve put the description and link below.
The issue has been raised before by a colleague of mine, Johannes Merz, who describes the ‘visual predicament’ of the Jesus Film (see his article, ‘Translation and the Visual Predicament of the “JESUS” Film in West Africa’, in Missiology, 2010, no. 2 pp.111-126 – you’ll need a subscription to read it). His main point is that we need to give more thought to how visual images can be misunderstood and, therefore, we need to do more to overcome those things.
Although Merz and Peterson’s work is focused on non-Western projects, these are questions everyone needs to be wrestling with. Think about how often we use images to illustrate Bible talks; think about how we use images to present something from the Bible on Facebook. What assumptions are we making about how the image will be interpreted, or how the visual context shapes the verse it accompanies. We had great fun chewing over this issue in a Scripture Engagement class last term here at Redcliffe, and there’s a whole lot more to explore.
Here’s the description and a link for Peterson’s article:

Illustrations often serve motivational functions for readers, especially reluctant readers, increasing their enjoyment of a text and the amount of time they give it. Various audiences require different kinds of Scripture visuals to care about the message and understand it well. Just as translators need to carefully check the words of Scripture, it is important that they also check Scripture illustrations with members of the intended audience, and if needed, change their choices based on this interview feedback. This paper encourages translation teams to check visual elements of Scripture with members of the intended audience, and helps prepare consultants to check illustrations based on local visual vocabulary, grammar and rhetoric.

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the Bible Translation Conference in October 2015, Dallas, Texas.

You can read the article by following this link: Avoiding Visual Miscommunication

You can study Bible and Mission on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology part-time using Summer School intensives. Click here for more details: MA in Contemporary Missiology

One thought on “Dealing with the risk of miscommunicating Biblical truth through pictures

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