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The St. John’s Bible

  • Posted on Apr 22, 2009

As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne of fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. Daniel 7:9

I have to go back! This morning, the Wednesday morning Bible Study class went on a field trip to the Walters Museum. We went to see the St. John’s Bible special exhibit. Little did I know that I was about to be completely amazed.

The St. John’s Bible is an extraordinary project begun at St. John’s College and Abbey in Minnesota. St. John’s Abbey is one of the largest Benedictine communities in North America. To honor the millennium, the abbey decided to take on a great project—an illuminated bible for the 21st century. Collaborating with a master calligrapher and artist from Wales, the Abbey has seen to it that the St. John’s Bible is on its way to completion by 2010. The purpose of this modern illuminated manuscript is to present the biblical story with an openness that would invite all faiths and people into the conversation.

At the exhibit, the manuscript pages range from the Gospels to the Apocrypha to the Hebrew Scripture of the Old Testament. The image of the Ancient One in Daniel was a figure that called out to the viewer–a figure that was not a figure of judgment but of compassion. Brilliant blues with gold leaf swirled in his robe and hair. Another favorite of our class was the Woman representing Sophia. Her wise, wrinkled face of silver and purple could have been an elderly woman from any part of the world–from a Native American tribe to a woman from the San of Africa. There were images from the Koran, Hebrew Scripture, Hindu text, and the Hubble telescope woven into the biblical images. To top it off, the St John manuscripts were placed side by side with the Walters world class medieval manuscript collection. The whole exhibit was only three rooms, but I could have stayed all day.

Easter resurrection comes to us through all mediums–through liturgy, community, chance encounters. Today, Jesus came to me through the pens of calligraphers, artists and scribes from the 1200s through today.

The exhibit continues into mid-May at the Walters. It is only $8. By all means, GO…and see if you find God in a new way.