the #codexinstagramus initiative: a bible photography project

instagram, picture bible, mobile photography

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

October 30, 2015

What if you could only use pictures to tell the story of the Gospel?

I’ve been thinking a great deal about Luke, the writer of his Gospel and the Book of Acts. The influence of his writing is unquestionable. But one thing most people don’t know about him is that he was also an iconographer. In a largely illiterate world (also without widescale printing), Luke turned to art, a sort of ancient bible photography, to tell the stories and communicate the Gospel of Christ to people who weren’t able to read it.

I’m studying Luke to learn how to better capture and communicate the story of the Church in the world today. The fun part of it is imagining what it would be like for him if he had the technology we have available to us today. There’s no doubt Luke would have an Instagram account. And assuming he did, I can’t help but to wonder what his Instagam feed would look like.

One of my favorite things about the Gospel is that it’s alive. It’s not just their story, it’s also our story. It’s a story with such great importance, Jesus tasked us with carrying it into all the world.

So that’s what I want to do. I want to try to tell the story of the Gospel (according to Luke) using only pictures. And the photo platform preferred by most today is Instagram. I’ll work section by section through Luke’s Gospel by sharing photos that I believe tell each part of the story. It’ll sort of be my visual paraphrase of the Story of Christ.

Of course, I’ll be hashtagging everything. First with #codexinstagramus, to identify the whole series of images used to tell not only this, but also any bible story. Second with a reference to the first verse in the passage the image represents. I’ll use the section breaks (and titles) used in the ESV Bible, as follows:

  • Dedication to Theophilus #Luke1v1
  • Birth of John the Baptist Foretold #Luke1v5
  • Birth of Jesus Foretold #Luke1v26
  • Mary Visits Elizabeth #Luke1v39
  • Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat #Luke1v46
  • The Birth of John the Baptist #Luke1v57
  • Zechariah’s Prophecy #Luke1v67
  • The Birth of Jesus Christ #Luke2v1
  • The Shepherds and the Angels #Luke2v8
  • Jesus Presented at the Temple #Luke2v22
  • you get the idea…

Here’s the image feed for #codexinstagramus. I’ll be working through the Gospel of Luke myself, but feel free to use that hashtag for other passages. The only think I would ask is to try to let the image tell the story. While I like those cool quote images, try not to use any text on the pics using this hashtag. We know that a picture can speak 1,000 words. So be thoughtful about the images, and let them tell the story.



Honestly, I’m not expecting other people to do this with me, but the door is open if anyone is interested. But as I go through this, I’m praying that the Holy Spirit would help me to better look at the world the way he does. I pray that I’m able to see the Gospel story in every aspect of my daily life. And I pray that he gives me the creativity to share that story in new ways which keeps it alive and relevant to others in my realm of influence.

What do you think? How can we (the church) get better at using the tools available to us to share the message of the Gospel today? What are you doing to be a good steward of the Good News? And if you want to participate with me (using the same or any other part of the Bible)…


Photo by leniners. Used via creative commons on Flickr.


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the #codexinstagramus initiative: a bible photography project

by Dan King time to read: 3 min