A Task of Biblical Proportions: Part I

The Bible is Brought Bang Up-To-Date with Bold & Beautiful Illustrations


How do you distil the books of the Old and New Testament into 66 retro-style posters without it being a reductionist exercise? Step forward Joseph Novak, a Presbyterian pastor with a passion for graphic design, who has created a minimalist cover for each and every one of the Bible’s many books. The entire collection is available here, exclusively on The Plus Paper, for the first time. His symbolic pieces are beautifully simple in design terms, but wonderfully open-ended in terms of meaning.

Novak describes his creation as a ‘visual diving board back into the sometimes troubling waters of the Bible.’ His artistic process was in part a scholarly exercise: Novak set himself the task of reading a particular book of the Bible before starting on its cover. The results are perceptive, contemporary and composite. Take his design for Genesis – always a good place to start – seven concentric circles appear to symbolise the seven days of creation, with the seventh circle coloured red to mark the day man entered the world. Novak’s concept was actually more complicated, as the image is meant to represent the ripples mankind caused in the clear pond of a sinless world. People say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but with Novak’s stylish, considered motifs, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

A Q+A with Joseph Novak, and his New Testament designs to come in part 2 of this story.