Saturday, January 16, 2016

The St. John's Bible- The Joshua Anthology

 The St. John's bible- 
the Joshua Anthology
Joshua 1-24 NRSV
Donald Jackson
Scribe: Susan Leiper
Vellum with ink, paint and gold

"As Moses reaches the end of his life,
 the Lord commissions Joshua, 
Son of Nun to be be Moses' successor 
and to lead the next generation of Israelites
 on a journey to the Promised Land.
The Book of Joshua chronicles the battles, 
deaths and mayhem of violence
 of that journey which initially began in Egypt.
The Joshua anthology, there first major illumination 
in Historical Books from The Saint John's Bible, 
focuses on the crossing of the children of Israel 
into the Promised Land. 
In this Illumination, Donal Jackson sets up a number 
of visual design elements which reprise throughout 
the work and tie the threat of the volume together. 
An Egyptian border motif taken from a wall painting
 in the Valley of the Queens is seen cropping 
into the margins of the anthology page, 
and the addition of a bronze bull and scarab beetle 
continue the Egyptian references. 
The Children of Israel, after having fought their way
 to the Promised Land following so many years
 of Egyptian bondage, 
are still seduced by the pull of the plytheistic images, 
false idols,
and magical rituals of their Egyptians masters.
 Death, violence, and conflagration are present 
in the flames and the headless bodies floating 
down the river; the price of slaughter
 is paid by both sides of a conflict.
Despite this destruction, there is still hope;
 strong and stable arches rise in the center
symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant 
carried across the river and throughout the land.
 The Law of Moses, in the form of fragments from 
Thomas Ingmire's illumination 
of theTen Commandments, 
is jostled across the Jordan, through the ruined city,
between the hills and into the Promised land.
Slender batons of gold, active and present
 throughout the illumination
carry out the theme of God's constant presence
reminding all to
 "Put away the gods that your ancestors served
beyond the River and in Egypt,
 and serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:14
(the display notes at the Biggs Museum)

Thinking about what gods we serve today 
in our own lives- 
the influence of culture and who really masters us?

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