A unique Bible composed entirely of illustrations was unfolded around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this weekend. More than 4,000 volunteers held what the Museum of the Bible dubs the longest Bible in the world around the Reflecting Pool to give passersby a look at this incredible piece of biblical artwork.
“It’s the world’s longest Bible—arguably, the world’s longest illustrated book,” Museum of the Bible CEO Ken McKenzie said of the Wiedmann Bible, which was on display on Saturday, June 1.
The Longest Fully Illustrated Bible in the World
This completely illustrated Bible is composed of 3,333 panels of illustrations organized into 19 leporellos (accordion-style books). The artist, Willy Wiedmann, used his own unique style of art called Polycon to bring the Bible to life. According to the Museum of the Bible, where the Wiedmann Bible is on display, Polycon was inspired by Wiedmann’s love of music as well as other artistic styles such as Surrealism, Dadaism, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism.
It took Wiedmann 16 years to complete the project. Wiedmann’s son, Martin, discovered four aluminum boxes containing the project while going through his father’s possessions after his father’s death in 2013. Martin told CBN he found out after the fact that his father had tried to publish his work in book format, but that no publisher was able to figure out how to take on the massive project, which physically takes up nearly a mile in length when it is unfolded. Since that time, a digital version of the work has been made available for purchase.
Although Wiedmann didn’t tell his family about the project while he was alive, Martin has done what his father wasn’t able to do by making the incredible work available to the public through the museum. An illustration-only version of the Bible could potentially bring the message of the Old and New Testaments to a sizable chunk of the world’s population who are illiterate. While at the National Mall for the unfolding this weekend, Martin told CBN there are over a billion illiterate people in the world, and his father’s work is “one way for them to engage with the Bible—through visuals.” McKenzie articulated Wiedmann’s belief that nearly a third of the world’s population needs to learn about the Bible in a form other than the written word. This motivation kept him working on the project for all those years.
What Does the Wiedmann Bible Look Like?
Because of its avant-garde style, some features of the Wiedmann Bible might take you by surprise. According to McKenzie, who was at the reflection pool unfolding of the Bible this weekend, Wiedmann didn’t want to depict God as either male or female, or with a face, and so he chose a triangle to represent the triune God. In some of the illustrations, a triangle is seen coming from the top of the page. You might wonder what Jesus looks like. He is depicted as having unwieldy blonde hair.
The unfolding event in Washington D.C. gave the museum the chance to show off the sheer physicality and artistic beauty of this incredible work of art. The Wiedmann Bible is a testament to the fact that God’s word transcends culture, time and even medium.