Arts / Events

New bible made with medieval technology on display in Dover

The illustrated bible was made with, among other things, goose quills, calf-skin vellum and candle soot. It's made to last millennia.

A photo of an illustration from the bible exhibit. (Photo by Flickr user Randy OHC, used under a Creative Commons license)

Plenty of bible apps offer quick access to the Good Book, but you (religious or not) might want to put down your smartphone for this one.
The Saint John’s Bible — commissioned by St. John’s Abbey and University in 1998 — was completed in 2011 and is now on display at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, according to a story from WHYY’s Delaware desk.
The project’s director, Tim Ternes, told WHYY that the bible was the biggest commission in modern times since the Sistine Chapel.
The illustrated work boasts 1,127 two-foot by three-foot pages. The verses on each page are hand-written in calligraphy — a job split among six people chosen for their similar calligraphy styles — and the whole thing was made to last between 1,500 and 2,000 years. The pages are illuminated in 24-carat gold too, to catch the light.
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Artists purposefully avoided modern technology in the endeavor: The bible was instead created with several medieval techniques. Artists used turkey, swan and goose quills on calf-skin vellum along with 1870s Chinese ink sticks made of candle soot.
Seventy pages taken from book’s seven volumes, in addition to tools and process sketches, will be on display at the Biggs Museum through March 27.

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