If you haven’t already heard of this amazing piece of illuminated beauty, do read on. I have nothing really to say that the work itself does not, in its massive scope and dedication, already utter so eloquently.
But since this blog is my device, I fear my paltry words will have to suffice and so I share the mystery, the wonder, the awe that is the St. John’s Bible, a dream-scope of true craftsman and calligraphic genius Donald Jackson, artist and man of God.
This bible is the first of its kind since the middle ages, scripted entirely by hand on vellum–sheep’s hide, treated in a very particular way so as to hold the ink, also crafted in particular way, very labor-intensive, and so as not to fade or crumble–includes, in addition to the Word, a spellbinding array of images. Images, not just pictures, paintings, designs, or media, but art…art the way it should be, and is when love meets craft.
This Bible is holy, I must think. I have not yet seen it, in its naked form that is, but twelve years ago I came upon an edition of the Smithsonian that took both my breath away and my doubt with it. Never again was I to question the value or the necessity of art. I opened the cover to find a process of words meeting spirit meeting love and all the while a dancing-pen light filled my itching nerve to create such an ultimate book. To form something from nothing and have it hold weight. Far from the empty ephemera of the Internet, this Manuscript held weight. And I gather it still does, as I have seen it crop up in posts, strands of conversation or NPR news bursts. I feel smug for a while thinking that I discovered it all before the rest of the modern world did, but then retract my smugness when I recall that someone–a very lucky and privileged someone–researched and wrote the article I read.
From a little child I have adored manuscripts, illuminated or otherwise, and hand-written, hand writing a manuscript was every bit as tantalizing as skiing was for my friends, or birding is for my grandmother.
The hand-art-craft of this work stuns me, but more than that, it reconciles me to believing that my God is a God of wonder and of beauty. All those words are beautiful on their own, simply because they are the words of God. But written in such a way, with such dedication and honesty in craft must make them stronger, if not simply more beautiful. The desire to read these words grows in me, as does the desire to make well my gift to the Lord, to bear my calling, to live in the majesty of his Word.