What is it?
The Messiah is an evangelistic booklet produced by the same people who gave us Manga Messiah. In fact, it is a condensed version of Manga Messiah, so you can expect the same authentic Japanese manga experience.
For those not familiar with the original, this is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in full-colour Japanese comics. The stories follow the biblical accounts closely, with Bible references at the bottom of the page. The authors have taken the liberty to add some extra materials which helps with the story telling and brings out the emotions of the characters and the situation. I really like the sections on Mary & Joseph and Jesus & Pontius Pilate.
There are a few improvements with this version. The most obvious is the use of English names rather than Hebrew names (i.e. Jesus/Yeshuah, Mary/Miryam, Joseph/Yosef). This is a welcome change, especially since this book is intended for a non-Christian audience.
However, it still retains the use of some Hebrew words, such as rabbi (teacher) and Messiah. The latter is particularly important, given that it’s the title of the book and that it’s used many times throughout without a clear explanation.
Overlooking this minor quibble, you can also look forward to a few new pages of artwork. The best bit is when Jesus first appears to the disciples after his resurrection. Their shock and disbelief will hopefully appeal to non-Christians and encourage them to be honest with their doubts and questions.
One other improvement in this condensed version is the call to respond at the end. It explains how you can become one of Jesus’ disciples and has a simple prayer for you to follow.
The only problem I have with The Messiah (and it’s a major one) is that it doesn’t actually explain the gospel. The editors have made some odd choices in selecting which pages to keep from the original. A bit of maths for those who like figures: of the 60 pages, 3/8 is on Jesus’ birth, another 3/8 on the Passion (from the Last Supper until Jesus’ death); the remaining 1/4 is divided evenly between Jesus’ life and his resurrection.
What this means is that we get an excellent re-telling of the Christmas and Easter stories. But the few pages spent on Jesus’ life make him seem like a mere miracle worker and a teacher of good morality. We are told that Jesus is the King, Saviour, Son of God, and of course, the Messiah. But it is never explained what Jesus will save people from (i.e. sin), and why he has to die on the cross and rise again. There are brief allusions, but you’d have to have read the Bible before to pick them up. The prayer at the end goes a little way to fix this, but only a little.
Is it worth getting?
Don’t let this discourage you from getting a hold of The Messiah. If you liked Manga Messiah, then you will definitely like The Messiah. The smaller size means that it’s less daunting. You can read it through in 5-10 minutes (depending on how slowly you admire the artwork).
It’s not a booklet you should hand out to strangers on the street. But I can think of 2 ways to use this booklet. You can give them to people who have a church background but are not Christians. It might help them to see some familiar Bible stories with fresh eyes and revive their interest in Jesus (then you’d also have to get Manga Messiah for them).
Or you can give them to friends who don’t know much about Jesus. It’s an engaging way for them to read the Bible without actually reading the Bible. And hopefully, it will get them interested enough to go and read the Bible. It might also raise interesting questions and give you a reference point to talk to them more about Jesus.
Either way, at $2.95 each (or as low as $1.50 each for bulk orders), they are a cheap but invaluable tool. You have to buy a few for your friends or your youth group! I’ve already put my order in!
Buy them from the Fervr Store here.
P.S. I’m not getting a commission out of this! ;)