2012 hand-copied, illuminated Gospel

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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!

Emotion of Epiphany depicted through art

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On Sunday, January 6th, the church celebrates Epiphany. Timeanddate.com defines Epiphany:

“Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. It is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany also refers to the church season that follows the day.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.” (Emphasis added.) Read entire…

While I come from a tradition which doesn’t differentiate the wise men’s visit from Christmas, I love the idea of celebrating the revelation of Jesus as God on a special day.

Throughout church history the Epiphany has been a favourite subject of biblical artists. Last year the Museum of Biblical Art (New York, NY) hosted an exhibit of an ancient altar piece depicting the events of Epiphany. The three sections of the piece “The Adoration of the Magi” by Bartolo di Fredi (1340-1410) were on loan from Italy, Germany, and another museum in the U.S.

"Adoration of the Magi" - Bartolo di Fredi

“Adoration of the Magi” – Bartolo di Fredi – (Wikipedia Commons)

It’s one thing to gaze casually at such a work of art, another to study it with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of the event depicted and perhaps the artist who created it.

To help with such a study the museum posted on its website a (pdf) Family Guide to the exhibition. In addition to explaining the history of the painter and this work of art, the guide also points out interesting aspects of the painting.

The adoring posture and gaze of the visitors, along with one of their crowns at Mary’s feet (something I noticed only after reading the guide) help us feel the worship of these kings and join in, even as we are aware of what an amazing thing it is to see grand men of luxury, power, and state worshiping a mere baby.

Below are more artistic depictions of the Epiphany. What do they add to your understanding and enjoyment of, and participation in the story?

(For additional insight [and another Epiphany painting] check out “A Sonnet for Epiphany” – by Malcolm Guite, one of the poems from his newly released book Sounding the Seasons.)

Wise men on camels

Wise men – Artist Unknown

"Epiphany" - Hieronymus Bosch

“Epiphany” – Hieronymus Bosch

"Adoration of the Wise Men" - Botticelli

“Adoration of the Wise Men” – Botticelli

"Epiphany"- Fernando Gallego

“Epiphany” – Fernando Gallego (from Wiki Commons)

"Epiphany" - Artist Unknown

“Epiphany” – Artist Unknown

"Epiphany" - Crreggio

“Epiphany” – Correggio