Bible study, Biblical Art

2012 hand-copied, illuminated Gospel

A news feature in the spring 2012 Bethany College Connection (the alumni newsletter of Bethany College, of which I am an alumna) caught my eye. I will quote from the press release “Candace’s Gospel Project”:

“First-year students in the ‘Jesus and the Gospels’ course, have a choice for their major assignment: write a research essay, or create a beautiful handwritten copy of one of the four gospels.

This year, Prince Albert, SK, student Candace Bighead produced a gospel manuscript that was simply outstanding. Candace, who was often seen around campus sketching and doodling, illustrated a copy of the Gospel of John with over 80 drawings to illuminate the life of Christ.

Most drawings are coloured with pencil crayon, and many are embellished with the thick textures of window paint, often to portray glistening water, wine, or blood. Some of the drawings are more abstract, evoking the theological symbolism of John.

The gospel itself, all 21 chapters, is copied in a very even calligraphic script.
Candace had this to say about the process of writing out this manuscript:

“My manuscript is my prayer journal. I have prayed, reflected, bled, and cried throughout writing and creating it. Drawing the whip marks and the blood of Christ just seeped into my heart and mind.”

For Candace, this was an amazing labour of love. After finishing, she estimated that she spent over 200 hours on this project.”

Gospel of John - Candace Bighead
Drawings from Candace Bighead’s hand-copied Gospel of John || Candace receiving “Award of Excellence”

I’m thinking, WHAT A FABULOUS WAY TO BRING THE BIBLE TO LIFE—one’s own and others!

4 thoughts on “2012 hand-copied, illuminated Gospel”

  1. What a fabulous idea. I’ve always hand-copied my favorite texts, but I’ve never thought of making a contemporary illuminated Gospel. I’m going to do it. I can’t think of any better way to meditate on and contemplate the words, than to write them carefully and also illustrate them. I was just reading something (now I’ll have to try and remember which book it was, maybe “Surprised by Hope”) about the importance of art in connecting us to deeper meanings that words simply can’t encompass, and I’m finding myself more and more drawn to combining words with visual art and music.

    Great idea you had, to post this. Thank you!


  2. this is Candace bighead here. just thought i’d read your blog post about my manuscript! I have recently done Exodus and that one took me 300+ hours to do. writing out the bible is and immense task and i would not recommend it unless you are willing to commit many many hours to it!!! i already have hand and wrist issues but hey love is pain! God moves through art and how he moves your heart is incredible!!!!!


    1. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment Candace. I was so moved when I saw the photos and description of your project in the Contact! And now Exodus too! Wow!! It will be neat to see what is ahead for you. Blessings as you allow your heart to be moved by Him and His wonderful word.


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