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The Brick Testament - David vs His Own People


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#1 Brendan Powell Smith

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 04:40 AM

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Hello, all.

I've been reading the Eurobricks forums for a while now, and thought maybe I'd officially join and start participating.  Some of you may already be familiar with my main LEGO project, The Brick Testament, but for those who are not, it is an attempt to illustrate the entire Bible in LEGO.

I've been working the project for over 6 years now, and somewhere along the line, it also became the world's largest and most comprehensive illustrated Bible in general, with 349 stories illustrated so far, covering 19 books of the Bible, with 3,804 individual illustrations.

I am currently working on the epic and very dramatic saga of King David.  This post concerns my latest update of six new stories which just about bring the King David section to a close.  The new stories are:

20,000 Israelites Killed, David Demotes Joab, David Imprisons His Concubines, Revolt, Murder, Decapitation, Young Woman for an Old Man, and Bathsheba’s Scheme.

Here's a couple of preview images:

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At the start of these stories, King David of Israel has been overthrown and by his eldest son Absalom, and made to flee his capital city of Jerusalem.  If you feel a little lost joining this story in progress, you might do better to start from earlier in the King David section, or any other part of the website that strikes your fancy.

Best regards,

Brendan Powell Smith

#2 ExoBuilder

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 04:49 AM

Welcome Reverend Smith!

I've gone through the Brick Testament a countless number of times. I really like how it makes the Bible so real *y*  Now everytime I open my bible I find myself looking for Lego figs! :-D

Being a Christian, I not only find it awesome that someone interpreted the Bible in Lego, I have a friend who's into Lego who is not a christian but he loves your website :'-)

I also do love the quality of your comics, everytime the get better *y*  You're very talented at customizing minifigs as well, your'e a true inspiration :'-)

I hope to see you complete the bible someday in Lego version.

*sweet*

#3 Scouty

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 05:05 AM

Hello there! It's a great honor for you to be here  :'-)  !

I love your wonderful illustrations on the Bible.

I have yet to go over the whole site, but what I have seen is great.

Not only is the motive awesome, but the style of your building of sets and figures is just great too.

I look forward to reading the new stories (I haven't got time as of now :-( )!

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#4 Hinckley

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 05:42 AM

Hey Brendan,

Welcome to the site. I'm a big fan. Your work inspired me to do my own visual story projects on my website. My friend is an improviser for Second City and Boom Chicago! in Amsterdam and she had no background in Christianity and had no idea how to play off of biblical references. So, I bought her your books for Christmas! :-D

Nice to see you here on Eurobricks. Welcome. I hope you have a great time. *sweet*

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#5 LegoLyons

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 07:34 AM

Wowsa, thats some awesome stuff Rev.

New to me, so a lot for me to see, great work. And welcome to EB.

#6 iamded

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 08:38 AM

Welcome to Eurobricks, Reverend Smith! I saw your work a while ago, I must say it's all very cool! I loved it! And I'm glad you continue it, keep up the great work!
I must say my favourite parts were the 10 plagues, I loved how you portrayed Egypt and everything, very cool! *y* *y*
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#7 Ricecracker

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 12:34 PM

hey Brendan! welcome to EB.

i love your work and check the site often, so im glad there's more.

im actually Jewish and for the most part its the same!

i'm also learning about this exact part of the bible in school.


again, welcome to EB

#8 Asuka

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:18 PM

Hello and welcome, Brendan Powell Smith, to the more worldly side of the heavenly brick.  *y*
Your biblically work is very famous, beautiful and impressive indeed. You´re an inspiring and very talented MOCer for sure....  :'-)

#9 zero1312

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 02:19 AM

WOW, that's so realistic built. :'-) Impressive!!! *wub*

Edited by zero1312, 20 March 2008 - 02:20 AM.

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#10 SirNadroj

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 02:24 AM

Ah, hello, and welcome to EB! :-) I am a fan of your work ~ it's incredible. Very, very impressive!

Keep it up!  8-�

#11 Brendan Powell Smith

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 04:41 AM

My thanks to everyone who has greeted me so warmly.  Nice to know several of you are already enjoying the Brick Testament project, and it's always great to be of inspiration to other builders, just as I have drawn inspiration from so many other great builders.  For those new to The Brick Testament, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and criticisms.

-Brendan

#12 PaulC

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 11:12 PM

Hello Brendan. I think your work is quite spectacular. I love the way you use a very small amount of bricks to craft sweeping vistas with the use of forced perspective in pictures such as this:
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If I had any criticism at all, it would be that sometimes the verses you've selected from the Epistles in the New Testament seem a little out of context. For example, you've illustrated Ephesians 5:24 "And as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything" with a wife waiting on her husband. Ephesians 5:28-29 continues "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church" and if you love your wife you won't be making her wait on you hand and foot!

Keep up the good work!

#13 trooperdavinfelth

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 12:36 AM

These look great! I especially like the way Absalom's hair was done! One question, though: Why do some of the soldiers have 1x2 bricks on top of two 1x1 pegs for legs? :-/

Also, neat way of using Sensei Keiken's head for Joab!

Two thumbs up! *y*  *y*
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For gosh's sakes, people! THEY ARE PRELIMINARY!

On the semi-crappy looking early 2009 sets.

#14 Inertia

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 12:43 AM

Welcome to EB Reverend Smith!

I am also a fan of your work, your landscaping and just how you portray the characters is excellent!
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#15 Brendan Powell Smith

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 01:32 AM

View PostPaulC, on Mar 24 2008, 03:12 PM, said:

Hello Brendan. I think your work is quite spectacular. I love the way you use a very small amount of bricks to craft sweeping vistas with the use of forced perspective in pictures
Hi, Paul.  Thanks for the kind words.  That technique of forced perspective is something that I stumbled upon early in the Brick Testament project, but now it's hard to imagine how I would have been able to get by without it.  I feel that it sometimes doesn't work quite as well as I'd like it to, but on the whole I think it's something I'm getting better at.

Although that Egypt shot was good for its time, it makes me cringe a little now to see the "Nile" flowing off into a diagonal horizon, not to mention a pyramid that was done in light gray bricks. Compare that with an example from my most recent set of stories...

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...and the effect is much more subtle.  To give the illusion of a city stronghold, I built only two small sections of wall.  The closer one uses 1x6 arches, and the farther one uses 1x4 arches to look like more of the same style wall at a distance.  And just a hint on the 1/4-scale buildings poke out above the wall to imply a fully inhabited city.

In general, I almost always try to make sure something microscale is in the background of any exterior shots (usually hills, mountains, trees, etc) to aviod the look of the barren land hitting the horizon that characterizes some of my earliest illustrated stories.

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If I had any criticism at all, it would be that sometimes the verses you've selected from the Epistles in the New Testament seem a little out of context. For example, you've illustrated Ephesians 5:24 "And as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything" with a wife waiting on her husband. Ephesians 5:28-29 continues "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church" and if you love your wife you won't be making her wait on you hand and foot!
I am mostly posting to Eurobricks to discuss the LEGO-related aspects of The Brick Testament.  It's not that I'm at all against the idea of discussing or even debating the non-LEGO aspects of The Brick Testament, I'm just wary that other Eurobricks readers may find it annoyingly off-topic.  Over at LUGNET.com (the only other LEGO-themed online community I've been a part of) there was a clear way to continue a discussion over in the designated "off-topic" forum, but I'm not sure what the etiquette and protocol are here.  Anyhow, I'll be happy to answer any such questions, but if other folks are annoyed and wish us to take such discussion elswhere, I'm open to such suggestions. :-)

The part of The Brick Testament that you've singled out here is one I titled "Instructions for Women".  From that alone, it should not be too surprising that I did not include the parts of Ephesians that give instructions to husbands, if only because husbands are not women.  But I am guessing that the larger nature of your criticism is that I have selectively chosen passages from the Epistles that appear sexist when pulled out of context but are not sexist when read in their original context.

So let's put the verse back in context and see how it fares.  I notice that in your quote of Ephesians above, you skipped over the verses in between my quote (verse 24) and your quote (28-29).  Ephesians 5:25-27, which directly sets up your quote reads as follows:

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Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,  so as to present the  church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything  of the kind�"yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.
I would contend that this is some highly sexist language in that it implies that, without some sort of death sacrifice from their husbands, wives are somehow unholy, unclean, and blemished.

I would also take issue with your actual quote itself, in which husbands are instructed to "love their wives as their own bodies" and where the author contends that "no one has ever hated his own body".  This strikes me as being bizarrely opposed to most Christian writings which presume a pure dualism where mind/spirit is entirely separate from body/flesh, and where the spirit is often protrayed as being trapped within a worthless, sinful, fleshly body.  Most of Christian teaching, including that of Jesus himself seems to denigrate the body.  Whoever wrote this passage of Ephesians seems to be entirely unfamiliar with the longstanding tradition of Christian asceticism which would seem to date back to Jesus and his first disciples.

But my shorthand method to see whether something is sexist is just to switch the sexes and see how it reads.  Let's try that for Ephesians 5:24-30:

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Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also husbands ought to be, in everything, to their wives.   Wives, love your husbands, just as Christ loved the church and gave herself up for him,  in order to make him holy by cleansing him with the washing of water by the word,  so as to present the  church to herself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything  of the kind�"yes, so that he may be holy and without blemish.  In the same way, wives should love their husbands as they do their own bodies. She who loves her husband loves herself.  For no one ever hates her own body, but she nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,  because we are members of her body.
Finally, as for my illustration of the wife waiting on the husband found in The Brick Testament, given the larger context of the quote it seems even more appropriate.  If a husband wants a beer, for example, he might command his own body to bring him one.  If he is to love his wife in the same way he loves his own body, it makes sense that he view her primarily as an object to which he can issue commands in order to satisfy his own desires and achieve his own goals.  Sure, you "love your own body" in the sense that you treat it relatively well in order to keep it in healthy working order, but the primary reason you "love your body" is so that it can continue to subserviently obey the commands of your mind, right?

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Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the comments!  I will keep at it.

-Brendan

#16 PaulC

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 10:00 AM

Thanks for your amazingly thorough answer Brendan. Now I think about it, you're probably right - this sort of religious discussion is probably best kept outside of this topic which is in the "Lego" section of the board. I'll limit my comments here to your fantastic MOC's in future.

However I wouldn't mind further debating the religious issues. I'm unsure of the protocol too, I'll find out and start a topic in the right area soon, or send you a Private Message.

#17 Brendan Powell Smith

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 10:44 AM

View Posttrooperdavinfelth, on Mar 24 2008, 04:36 PM, said:

These look great! I especially like the way Absalom's hair was done! One question, though: Why do some of the soldiers have 1x2 bricks on top of two 1x1 pegs for legs? :-/
Since the normal minifig legs look so much like modern day pants, I wanted a way to portray minifigs wearing more ancient-looking outfits.  My solution (and I readily admit it's not a perfect one) has been  to use 1x2 bricks to look like either kilts or, if the brick color matches the torso color, something more like a tunic that stretches from shoulder down to the knees.  The yellow 1x1 round bricks are then legs.

Sometimes I'll extend the tunic (or a woman's dress) down to the ankle and just use 1x1 round plates as feet.

I suppose what's extra confusing is that I don't use this technique for all my figs in The Brick Testament, so sometimes I do have my ancient minifigs wearing standard minifig "pants".  That's generally because I didn't start using this technique until a year or so into the project, and because it's a lot easier to show minifigs in a running pose with standard legs, and because sometimes I still just like the way normal "pants" legs look better than my tunic-style legs.  Hope my lack of standardization is not too distracting.

Thanks for the compliment on Absalom's hair.  I'm not sure what I would have used if those Dwarf beards hadn't become available!

-Brendan

#18 trooperdavinfelth

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 02:31 PM

View PostBrendan Powell Smith, on Mar 25 2008, 06:44 AM, said:

Since the normal minifig legs look so much like modern day pants, I wanted a way to portray minifigs wearing more ancient-looking outfits.  My solution (and I readily admit it's not a perfect one) has been  to use 1x2 bricks to look like either kilts or, if the brick color matches the torso color, something more like a tunic that stretches from shoulder down to the knees.  The yellow 1x1 round bricks are then legs.

Sometimes I'll extend the tunic (or a woman's dress) down to the ankle and just use 1x1 round plates as feet.

I suppose what's extra confusing is that I don't use this technique for all my figs in The Brick Testament, so sometimes I do have my ancient minifigs wearing standard minifig "pants".  That's generally because I didn't start using this technique until a year or so into the project, and because it's a lot easier to show minifigs in a running pose with standard legs, and because sometimes I still just like the way normal "pants" legs look better than my tunic-style legs.  Hope my lack of standardization is not too distracting.

Thanks for the compliment on Absalom's hair.  I'm not sure what I would have used if those Dwarf beards hadn't become available!

-Brendan

I suppose you could've used this one, but you'd have to paint it brown:
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Just curious: Why do you raise up the headgear and hair and sometimes reverse it? I guess the raised and reversed 'aviator cap' (Posted Image) is meant to be a helmet, but why raise this hair? Posted Image

Again, great work! It all looks so real... *sweet*
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For gosh's sakes, people! THEY ARE PRELIMINARY!

On the semi-crappy looking early 2009 sets.

#19 SlyOwl

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 02:50 PM

Hey! *sweet*
Firstly, you're famous! As far as I know, many people, even non-Lego/Christian, are aware of your project. *y*
Secondly, although I disagree with some of your interpretations, representations or omissions, your work has a certain aspect to it that makes it attractive. I am aware that you have had some criticism over your choice of passages (fighting, rape), but I understand that this is practically a necessity as they are the most physically representable parts, and therefore the most interesting.
Thirdly, a small criticism - I don't like your over-customization; for example, in this scene:
Posted Image
I see little reason to modify the crown and the dragon helmet :-/ But that's just my opinion...
Fourthly, have you any other non-Biblical MOCs?
Finally, keep up the good work!

View Posttrooperdavinfelth, on Mar 25 2008, 02:31 PM, said:

But why raise this hair?
Posted Image
Bearskin hat, or something like it.

To the barricades!
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#20 trooperdavinfelth

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 06:53 PM

View PostSlyOwl, on Mar 25 2008, 10:50 AM, said:

Hey! *sweet*

Thirdly, a small criticism - I don't like your over-customization; for example, in this scene:
Posted Image
I see little reason to modify the crown and the dragon helmet :-/ But that's just my opinion...

I don't see it modified. Do you mean the jewel in the crown? All I see is the silver helmet from King Leo's time and the crown from... Everywhere. :-/

View PostSlyOwl, on Mar 25 2008, 10:50 AM, said:

Bearskin hat, or something like it.

Bingo! Tks, SO! *sweet*
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For gosh's sakes, people! THEY ARE PRELIMINARY!

On the semi-crappy looking early 2009 sets.

#21 SlyOwl

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 07:12 PM

View Posttrooperdavinfelth, on Mar 25 2008, 06:53 PM, said:

I don't see it modified. Do you mean the jewel in the crown? All I see is the silver helmet from King Leo's time and the crown from... Everywhere. :-/
The crown has had the jewel implanted and the nose-piece removed; the dragon helmet has had the chin guards removed and  the silver sword had been "sharpened"... ;-)

Edited by SlyOwl, 25 March 2008 - 07:12 PM.

To the barricades!
Posted Image


#22 trooperdavinfelth

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 07:48 PM

View PostSlyOwl, on Mar 25 2008, 02:12 PM, said:

The crown has had the jewel implanted and the nose-piece removed; the dragon helmet has had the chin guards removed and  the silver sword had been "sharpened"... ;-)

Ahh! Well, I think the nose-piece was removed because it obstructed vision. The jewel, I don't see why you're complaining! It looks cool, and it doesen't look like it's attached via a large stub. :-P  I think the dragon helmet looks fine; the chin guards would obstruct Keiken's face. *sweet*
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For gosh's sakes, people! THEY ARE PRELIMINARY!

On the semi-crappy looking early 2009 sets.

#23 Lt. Col. Thok

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 08:31 PM

Welcome!  I was wondering if/when you would arrive here.  I am a fan of your creations - they are very neat!
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#24 Brendan Powell Smith

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 02:39 AM

View Posttrooperdavinfelth, on Mar 25 2008, 06:31 AM, said:

Just curious: Why do you raise up the headgear and hair and sometimes reverse it? I guess the raised and reversed 'aviator cap' (Posted Image) is meant to be a helmet, but why raise this hair? Posted Image
The raised flattop hair is my best approximation of the Philistine headdress that the actual Philistines seem to have worn (or at least some of them) as depicted in wall carvings that the Egyptians made.  For instance:

Posted Image

I even have David don the Philistine headdress when he joins sides with the Philistines against the Israelites:

Posted Image

Quote

Again, great work! It all looks so real... *sweet*

Thanks!

-Brendan

#25 Batbrick

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 03:11 AM

Thankyou for sharing this information about your amazing creations Brendan Powell Smith. Being a Christian myself I very much enjoy reading it, and find it very humourous and well done. While i also disagree with some interpretations, the Bible is certainly something that can be interpreted many ways, and each one will always draw certain criticism. Great job, I hope you continue, its an amazing work you've done so far.

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