As a part of the ongoing Creighton’s “The Saint John’s Bible” lecture series at the Joslyn Art Museum, the fourth lecture titled “Where Science Meets Scripture: The Saint John’s Bible” was given Sunday.
As described on the Joslyn website, “The Saint John’s Bible” is a Bible commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University in 1998.
Completely handwritten and illuminated with stunning artwork, “The Saint John’s Bible” is the first bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.
The Bible was created using both ancient illuminated manuscript methods (writing with hand-cut quills on calfskin vellum and using natural pigmentations) and modern technology (following a layout designed on a computer).
The fourth lecture was given by Sherri Brown, biblical scholar and associate theology professor at Creighton, and Gintaras Duda, physics professor at Creighton. The lecture centered on science and theology as two paths to revelation.
During his opening remarks, Duda made the connection between the two areas.
“Reason and revelation are both two truths and since a truth cannot contradict another truth, together they are one truth,” he said. “The Bible even presents cosmologic science alongside scripture, and the artists understand that connection and have depicted it in their illuminations."
The illuminations shown in the lecture incorporate subtle references to scientific elements. The frontispiece for Ecclesiastes features seven pillars of wisdom along with gold circles from an ancient Arab astronomy book that reflect the motion of the superior planets - Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - while the illumination for Psalms 1 features sound waves from a Gregorian Chant, a Native American sacred song, a Buddhist sacred song, an Islamic call to prayer and a Taoist sacred song.
Heider College of Business freshman, Connor Brainard, particularly found the illumination for the Acts of the Apostles to be fascinating.
“I really like how the crosses dot the border and how they represent how God is calling for religion to spread to the ends of the Earth,” Brainard said. “I also think it is cool how the borders are not solid, reflecting the ever-expanding nature of the universe.”
“The Saint John’s Bible” is made up of seven books that are two feet tall and three feet wide when open. The exhibit features a selected 76 original pages from the Bible, and the lecture on Sunday discussed six of those illuminations.
Brown shared the story behind the creation of this lecture.
“We came to the exhibit on one of its early opening days and just walked through it,” said Brown. “We were both big fans of ‘The Saint John Bible’ prior to this exhibit, and over this past year, we’ve met and became friends. As we walked around the exhibit, Gintara got the idea for a lecture that focused on both our areas of expertise, so we picked out illuminations that spoke to us and that the audience would find interesting. We really wanted to share with people this artistic encounter between the two disciplines.”
The Saint John’s Bible exhibit will be at the Joslyn Art Museum until Jan. 19, 2020.