The Christian Bible has long been a written work that has been read by countless readers across all elements of geography, language, and time. While the scriptures have been able to reach nearly all humans and made consumable in function, it is not always met with true understanding by the reader. While a wide variety of factors might contribute to an individual’s ability to comprehend the content in their personal study of scripture, it is proven that there are multiple mediums that can be used to convey a singular concept.
The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) is a freely accessible web-based publication that covers most books bible by orchestrating modern and historical artwork, scriptural texts, and commissioned commentaries to help readers “rediscover” the Bible in a brand new way.
One of the primary disconnects between a modern reader and scriptural text is the figurative canyon that exists between the context of the persons of scripture and the modern reader. In response, the VCS is founded on the belief that the very “world of experience” that is depicted in scripture is a “world of experience” that can be conveyed in a way that is relatable and meaningful to modern-day readers.
While the creators behind VCS had a vision for creating a stirring, unique method of interpreting scripture, they wanted to ensure that they maintained the validity and the sacredness of the scriptures by creating a framework of qualification for each contribution within the collective work. Each contribution was vetted for its “authoritative” nature and “fruitfulness” by three primary factors: “the quality of attention that the commentators paid to the texts, the power of insight brought to the texts, and the way their particular insight created a lively dialogue with fellow commentators and unfolding experiences of a historical people.”
It is a remarkably innovative feat that greatly benefits the modern, visually creative thinker to have access to a free resource that enables them to interact with the Bible in an unprecedented way. However, this feat would not have been possible without the work, time, and generous investment that brought it into existence. The VCS project is an on-going project that continually adds to its library, already with $2 million in total funding. Primary donorship includes Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, philanthropists based out of Southern California.
Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. is a philanthropist and writer with strong convictions in a number of spheres including politics, creative arts, and the crisis around housing affordability in Los Angeles. Along with his wife, Roberta, Howard conducts his philanthropic endeavors through Fieldstead & Company, a philanthropic group that he founded himself. Philanthropic work within the Ahmanson family did not begin with Howard, but rather Howard Sr., his father. Howard Ahmanson Sr. built his wealth in the savings & loan industry, stockpiling a fortune of wealth to be left to his son after his death in 1968. From there, Howard viewed money as a tool for change and has used that philosophy to impact a wide variety of organizations across multiple industries and spheres.
Howard’s deep convictions are clearly carried out in his philanthropic work. All of his efforts revolve around helping those in need, solving a large-scale problem, or making something possible that previously was not. In the case of the Visual Commentary on Scripture, Howard performed the latter. Many lives have been and will continue to be impacted by a fresh, new way to understand the Bible, thanks to the support put forth by Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr.