Testament Online – For Free! plus NOTES

Vertigo has finally seen the light. No, not that light, but the obvious power of the Internet to share and, ultimately, promote comics work.

So they’ve created a page where users can download complete versions of the first issues (mostly sold out) of the latest and greatest comics on their roster.

Testament has been included in this group, and I encourage you to download it from the Testament downloads page. In addition to a full color pdf of the first comic book, the page includes (on the lower right) a link to download my never-before-seen explanatory notes to the first five issues – the ones included in the first ‘graphic novel’ collection available at a book or comic store near you (or from Amazon right here.

The notes were a real labor of love for me – and took about as much time as writing the comic itself. They’re quite valuable for understanding why the Bible scenes are depicted the way they are, and site all the chapters and verses from which various scenes and insights were culled. I’ve even gone so far as to include the Talmud and Midrash sources I used to come up with some of my interpretations of these scenes. (The notes to the first ten issues will appear in the back of the second collection.)

For example:

“Although the Bible makes no mention of Sarah’s reaction to Abraham’s intention to sacrifice her Isaac, we can only assume that when Abraham trots Isaac off to Mount Moriah, she knows what he intends to do up there. For, unknown to most casual readers of the Bible, child sacrifice was more than just common: it was the norm. Men of Canaan, in particular, sacrificed their first-born sons to the god Moloch, as a way of appeasing the ever-chaotic forces of nature. It was believed if you pay Moloch his due, you could at least control the inevitable losses that life would bring.

* * *

“That’s why I’ve rendered Abraham’s servants so confused at his decision to bring Isaac up to Mount Moriah. He’s already been through this, and has already accepted his God’s new deal. And even though God’s order to Abraham is framed as a “test,” (Gen. 22, 1) I think the real test here is not whether Abraham is willing to listen to God’s commands – but whether he is really able to leave his old ways behind.

Thus, we see not the Bible’s God himself, but the Canaanite god Moloch ordering Abraham to carry out this deed. For it is he who would most benefit from the sacrifice of another child to his fiery altar. Moloch’s power is dependent on the sacrificed flesh of children.

In a sense, the Bible can be understood as the chronicle of humankind’s changing relationship to God. God starts out demanding child sacrifice, then proves satisfied with some foreskin and the occasional animal sacrifice. Thanks to later prophets and the destruction of the Temple, we learn that God is actually satisfied by prayers of devotion – that he be internally experienced. And finally, through the book of laws and ethics known as Talmud, God is to be acknowledged through acts of kindness and social justice. God quite literally leaves the stage.

It is a leap of sorts to portray Moloch as ordering the sacrifice, but one absolutely consistent with how such actions would have been understood by the Torah’s original intended audience.”

For the hundreds who have emailed me asking questions about the Biblical or historical basis for the seemingly secret information I’ve uncovered or counter-intuitive interpretations I’ve come up with, I thought I’d open up the books a bit further and show how truly supported they are by the text.

So please do download the comic and have a free read, as well as look at some the rationale for restaging Bible stories in a near-future where people have RFID tags under their skin as a way of recording their currency transactions. The story may begin to make more sense than you’re comfortable with.