[Warning: AI]

An apostle friend of mine made a fun suggestion: to use AI to illustrate a bible. A carefully selected set of scenes from the bible. It’s a pretty good idea, with lots of potential for mayhem and madness.

The first bit of mayhem and madness, of course, was that Midjourney’s “inappropriate content” filter flagged the subtle nuances of the story of Lot’s daughters. It’s a lot of insinuation, mostly, but I guess it’s probably “inappropriate content” and should be generally disallowed. The bible, in general, is a load of inappropriate content, but we live in a time when congresspeople show dick pics on the floor of the house. It’s funny to imagine that software dick pics (no real dicks in this photo) are somehow offensive. Ain’t that America?

My big realization was that I could just punch in chunks of bible text and ask it to render. But then I discovered a sad thing: the art-space surrounding “Jesus” is already filled with tons of jesussy crap art, from all the dumb jesus cartoons and fliers. AI have been massively trained to reproduce jesussy propaganda, and if you crack that valve just a little bit, you get a flood of stuff like this:

Midjourney AI and mjr: some crap from Matthew 26, the sermon on the mount

You know:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. The Beatitudes He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

Ughhhhhh…. It’s AI regurgitating existing propaganda automatically.

Midjourney AI and mjr: the sermorn on the mount

Cesare Borja

We probably should have a discussion around now of the representation of Cesare Borgia as the face of jesus while his father (Rodrigu) was pope Alexander VI. But I don’t know if that’s actually historical reality. If it were the case, it would be a good study in how religious propaganda and marketing intersect, or something. He was certainly a cutie until his nose was mostly eaten away with syphillis.

I found it hard to handle the gloopy revival jesus of the comic books, and I tried to modify the sermon on the mount a bit, which yielded me:

Midjourney AI and mjr: “emo goth jesus in black leather robes, eye shadow, and look of foreshadowed doomed despair”

It’s probably illegal in Florida since goth Jesus is wearing makeup. But can we all agree it’s a significant upgrade?

Meanwhile, back to the stories of the “real jesus” as carried in the bible?

Midjourney AI and mjr: jesus chasing the venture capitalists money changers from the temple

The money changers seem to be enjoying themselves, but not as much as goth jesus. Before anyone else decides to mention it: jesus appears to have inflicted a plague of polydactyly on the money changers. They have more fingers than they have money.

Jesus’ water-walk rendered remarkably well. I was tempted to ask for it “… in the style of Caravaggio” but this would get too image-heavy.

Oddly, I notice that Jesus is not the only guy who’s going water-EVA. The boat is over there, and there are multiple other guys jogging around on the foamy brine.

I tried punching in some other parts of the Jesus story-book (AKA “bible”) such as the story of Job:

Midjourney AI and mjr: In the land of Uz there lived a man named Job

Job was rich, which means that he had a lot of sheep. These legends emerge from a time when there was aggregated wealth, but it was mostly in the hands of Persian satraps. To make the story of Job interesting, he should be cast as a Persian prince, with real wealth. Then he’d have cursed god at the drop of a hat. A shepherd? Hell, yes, it’s easy to be stoic when you’re a shepherd. I know; I spent my summers in France herding sheep and I grew no closer to god – on the contrary.

Midjourney AI and mjr: Jesus parties with Mary Magdalene and the hos, until the Romans show up and shut down the noise

Look at the size of that opium pipe Mary Mags is swinging! Holy mackerel that’ll make you see god for sure.

Midjourney AI and mjr: Mary Magdalene as an 80s goth chick

I’m gonna omit all the madonna/whore references for now.

I just thought Jesus was a bit too stiff. So I loosened him up a bit:

Midjourney AI and mjr: “and it is written that Jesus could skateboard better than Tony Hawk and they did compete.”

You’ll notice the miracle: he can ollie on a board that has only 2 wheels.


  1. StonedRanger says

    ‘Jesus is a bad mother. Shut yo mouth. Im talking about jesus’. Apologies to Isaac Hayes. But really, jesus got seven toes? Greedy bastard.

  2. JM says

    Is it intentional that your emo Jesus looks like Jared Leto decked out as a cult leader or evil wizard? If you added a wand or staff he wouldn’t look out of place in a D&D campaign.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    “can we all agree it’s a significant upgrade?”
    Can ask agree it’s just Jared Leto?… (looks at #3) oh, apparently yes.

  4. Ridana says

    The onlookers watching Skateboard Jeezus look like they could use a few miracles themselves about now. Raiders’ melting-wax Nazi was a handsome chap next to some of those faces. But while Jeezus has trimmed some toes from his Mount Sermon days, they still need some work. His right big toe looks like he missed the nail he was hammering, and his left toes have merged into just two big fat ones.

    I also love the moneychanger in the left background raising his hand to do a righteous finger-puppet of Anubis.

    Seriously though, when is AI going to figure out human digits? Every time I start thinking, “Oh, they’re getting better,” something like these shows up and it’s “oops, spoke too soon.”

  5. says

    If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin,cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell

    I got several images like this:

  6. says

    Jesus arrives at the sermon on the mount, and verily the others saw Jesus’ strange steed and all were amazed.

    You will be too, once you notice his motocross-style sandals. Those are cool!

  7. Jörg says

    Marcus @#13:
    And Christian apologists praise the Sermon on the Mount as an ethical masterpiece. This polished turd.

  8. says

    Is it intentional that your emo Jesus looks like Jared Leto decked out as a cult leader or evil wizard?


    And this is an important thing to understand about AI: what you get is never “intentional” it’s probablistic. When I told it I wanted “goth Jesus” it went through its tensor networks and increased the activation on “jesus” and “goth” and then began to create an image starting with a field of noise and then iteratively removing pixels that were less goth and less jesus. If I had told it “holding a staff” it would have increased the activation on “staff” and “holding” and I might have gotten an image of goth jesus holding a staff. Or I might not.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Have a look:
    Illustrated Stories from the Bible
    by Paul Farrell, illustrated by Mary Demchuck
    ISBN 10: 1578849225 / ISBN 13: 9781578849222

    I think this captures the spirit you were after, although it doesn’t have the rendering polish that Midjourney provides.

  10. Owlmirror says

    I think it’s interesting, in the last picture with the skateboard, the AI seems to have perhaps taken a source image that had Jesus with a halo — but fudges the image so that Jesus’ head is, by perspective, under a circular ring of wispy cirrus clouds that looks halo-like rather than having an obvious halo.

    If a human had done it, I would have thought it a deliberate and clever subtle touch.

    Of course, then there’s the hot mess of all the rest of the image.

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