NSFW Legendary underground comic artist Robert Crumb has caused a bit of a stir with his illustrated Book of Genesis - complete with biblical rumpy-pumpy and "gratuitous" violence, as the Telegraph puts it.
The book prompted Mike Judge of God botherers' "think-tank" the Christian Institute to opine: "It is turning the Bible into titillation. It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God's rescue plan for mankind."
He warned: "If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many many people and should be treated with the respect it deserves.
"Representing it in your own way is all very well and good but it must be remembered that it is a matter of people's faith, their religion. Faith is such an important part of people's lives that one must remember to tread very carefully."
A spokesman for the Church of England offered: "I haven't seen the book but I think trying to sell something by emphasising the sexual nature of some of the scenes doesn't seem to be a good way to pass on the message of the bible."
Refreshingly, though, other Christians are less concerned. A spokeswoman for the Bible Society also admitted she hadn't seen the book, but conceded that reviews* indicated Crumb had "really engaged" with the subject matter.
She said: "It may surprise people but the bible does contain nudity, sex and violence. That's because it contains real stories about real people. If by reading the book people are encouraged to re-engage with the Bible then that can only be a good thing."
The Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, weighed in with: "I didn't think it was satire. He set out to say 'this is important, fundamental myth', and it seems to me he's done a good job."
Regarding Crumb's own beliefs, the Telegraph notes that the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr Natural has gone on the record as saying he "does not believe that the Bible is the word of God".
Crumb elaborated: "I take it all for myth from start to finish, with probably some faint relation to historical reality. They're great stories. But for people to take texts as something sacred, handed down from God... that's pretty backward, I think."
The Book of Genesis illustrated by R Crumb is currently available in the US only for 24 bucks. The cartoonist's website says fans will shortly be able to buy one of 250 "special, signed, limited edition books" at $500 a pop. ®
*Here's one from Bookforum.com, which describes the book as "a fitting capstone to a great career".