The adventure begins with a meeting. That of two American students from Multnomah University, located in Portland (Oregon), in the northwest of the United States. A small university of approximately 500 students dedicated specifically to training students, teachers and religious leaders in biblical studies. During their training, Tim Mackie and John Collins wondered about how to transmit the teaching they received with new tools. And above all to evoke the complexity of the biblical text without falling into simplifications which do not advance anything. John also has another passion: drawing. In 2014, the two friends published their first video. The adventure begin.
Ten years later, more than 180 videos and 350 podcast episodes have been produced and are available free of charge, including a certain number translated into French. Word of mouth worked well: the site evokes no less than 620 million cumulative views, across more than 200 countries around the world. It is mainly people under 45 who are reached through these videos.
The process of creating each video is interesting. From a series of original themes (a word, a biblical book, etc.), it is first of all a fairly in-depth work of exegesis and theology that is carried out. To identify, for example, narrative repetitions, literary structures, recurring ideas, the place of characters and the importance of places, etc. But also to offer a credible synthesis of the way in which numerous authors worked on the biblical text. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting aspects of this work: a real curiosity about biblical work and centuries-old research on this text in different Christian approaches.
All this research is then visualized over the course of the work sessions to gradually bring out the scenario for future videos. Nearly sixty graphic designers, animators and illustrators are then called upon to finalize the work, step by step.
Everyone will be able to judge the result. If the confessional approach to the work is not explicitly expressed, we are indeed in the presence of the energy of the biblical work of the Protestant churches. Tim Mackie himself served as pastor in one of the city’s most original sites: a skate park where the Gospel is also proclaimed. A project that has affected more than 10,000 young people over the years.
But given the quasi-university approach to the work and an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient and current exegetical work, everyone will be able to watch these videos with confidence. A good tool for younger generations who are often more comfortable with these very graphic approaches. But also a good way to bring young and old together around the biblical text.
Because this is the issue in the end: by reconciling oneself with a curious, open reading of the biblical text, there is so much to discover in the way in which the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob reveals himself in the history. And there is so much to grasp about the way Christ reveals himself in each of us.
To note : It is always interesting to ask how these kinds of projects are financed and by whom. Here, crowdfunding is proposed to cover an annual budget of approximately… $22 million. A sum generally covered by more than 50,000 more or less regular donors and other donations. All these tools are thus free to access and this is not the least of their interest.