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Isaiah in five minutes

Oak Hill’s third year students have been busy this term producing short video presentations as part of their work on the book of Isaiah. One of the videos unpacks the message of Isaiah by using Lego characters, and another uses live sketching, and each of them was produced by a team of four students working in collaboration.

Eric Ortlund, who teaches Old Testament Studies at Oak Hill, says that one of the goals of the Isaiah module is for students to see the shape of the book as a whole. ‘One of the ways they accomplish this goal is by presenting the book to the class as if they were in a church setting – for example, presenting the book to a youth group on a weekend away. Cramming all of Isaiah into a five-minute presentation is anything but easy, but our students did a fine job of it this year.’

Jimmy Hill, who produced Lego Isaiah (seen above) along with Alec Ham, Tom Heasman and Jarrod Howard-Browne, says that their team took more than 2,500 photographs to complete the video, moving each Lego minifigure a tiny amount between each photo. ‘It took a couple of days to complete,’ he says, ‘but it sure beats writing essays!’

‘Isaiah is a complicated book,’ says Tom Heasman. ‘There is lots of back and forth, plus repeated themes, so we wanted a video which would capture the essence of the book – judgement, restoration, hope – without losing the wood for the trees.’

Meanwhile, another team of students produced the live-sketch video, Eyesaiah. ‘We wrote the voiceover script in a poetic fashion, to reflect not only the book’s structure, but also Isaiah’s writing style and vivid use of imagery,’ says the team. ‘Then it was a case of working out how Sam could bring these word pictures to life through the drawing! We wanted these images, like the words, to give the viewer a little window into some of the powerful and often satirical pictures that Isaiah uses.’

Eyesaiah was written by Peter Chamberlin and Duncan Cobbett, with illustration by Sam Gibb and the voiceover by Sophia Chichester.

The students have found the process of working creatively with the theological and pastoral themes of Isaiah highly rewarding. Tom Heasman says, ‘This project has been an immensely valuable end to the module. I was in danger of getting lost in the detail of Isaiah, but forcing myself to step back and see the big picture has helped me get a grip on something of what Isaiah is really going on about!’

And for the Eyesaiah team, ‘Engaging with Isaiah visually and creatively has allowed some of the book’s illustrations to profoundly go to work on us. In the same way that political satire in newspaper cartoons really packs a punch, bringing to life some of Isaiah’s images (such as the idol creation in chapter 44) has left a lasting effect on us all. It’s also been great revision for our forthcoming Isaiah exam!’

Oak Hill

Oak Hill
19 May 2017

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