It recently came to my attention that the first handwritten Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery in more than 500 Years was completed: The Saint John’s Bible, named after the abbey that commissioned it. As a medievalist and a Christian, I find this wonderfully exciting. Having had the privilege of working with medieval illuminated manuscripts, I believe that illuminated texts, especially the Bible, are precious works of art.
The Saint John’s Bible is digitized, and you can leaf through its pages online. I love it. I love the modern, abstract illustrations, the artist’s interpretation of marginal glosses, the cover page for each book. The illustrations somewhat remind me of Coventry Cathedral. The medieval cathedral in Coventry was destroyed by an air raid during WWII, and after the war, a new cathedral was rebuilt beside the ruins. The new cathedral keeps the design and structure of a cathedral, but the art is all modern. It certainly takes a visitor by surprise, but by the end of my visit, I came to like it. Together, the old cathedral and new serve as a testimony to the endurance of faith and of the community.
The style of art works even better on the page. In The Saint John’s Bible, we have again a medieval work of art reinterpreted into our (post)modern context. Click on the image of Genesis above and go explore the Bible. Someday I hope to be able to own a reprint of one of the volumes, possibly Psalms.