I wrote this a while back and never posted it:
I'm about to start a new series of illustrations on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I'm trying to design the characters properly, as I did the 12 disciples a while back. However, I'm finding it a lot more difficult to get a sense of these characters. It's hard to nail them down.
I think one reason may be that it's a different kind of writing. The gospels were written by people close to the events - by the disciples themselves, by people who knew them, or by people who knew people who knew them. Genesis is different: Moses was writing six or seven hundred years after the events (presumably based on early written or oral sources, but there's still not the same immediacy).
Perhaps partly because of this, the two types of writing have a very different feel. Genesis - particularly the story of Abraham - is epic. You get the sense of long distances travelled, sweeping views, vast starry skies, heroic battles. We are rarely in a city or even a village. Although you know there are a lot of people around (Abraham has a large entourage, including a private army of 318 trained men!) you get more of a feeling of a solitary hero.
The gospels are much more homely in feel - village life, city streets, jostling crowds, ordinary people. Although some of the travel is similarly extensive, even over some of the same territory, it feels much smaller and more enclosed.
And you know, that makes sense. When God chose a man, he made him great. But when God himself came to earth, he didn't come as a respected tribal chief with great wealth, many servants and a private army. He came as an average working class man from an unimportant town.
(You can see the pictures I ended up with here - click on buttons:)