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[BKARTS] The illuminated Gospels are almost done
For the past 4 years I have been making by hand an illuminated manuscript of
the Gospels. I started the Bible back in 1987, but after 9-11 when 4 of my
friends died, I decided to make a great book, like the Book of Kells,
something that would knock your socks off!
To date I have 304 illuminated pages with a total of 550 pages and most
of the non illumianted pages are decorated and each chapter contains a
different historical manuscript style. I do not use computers, this was done the
old fashioned way, hence why it took 4 years. For those of you who are fans of
the Saint John's bible they only have 26 illuminations in their 136 pages
for their Gospels and Acts, 160 illuminations in total for their entire Bible
and they are not the first in 500 years, neither am I.
Currently I am finishing off the last chapter of the Gospel of Saint
Luke, I just put a Ford GT on the Road to Emmaus. Drawing a Pan Am Clipper right
now. I have a few verse initials to complete and I will be done.
Whereas the Book of Kells and the Saint John's Bible starts off each
book with a full page carpet page, I decided to do that in about half of the
chapters of the Gospels. The idea being that I have already done the one format
Bible Book, I completed my New Testament in 1995 and so I decided to mix it
up a bit and to try to encompass the entire history of manuscript
illumination in this set of Gospels. That is why I have 304 pages of illuminations.
Luke is an insular Celtic manuscript like the Book of Kells, while John
is mostly French manuscript styles. Matthew is a collection of English
styles and Mark gets into more modern work, including the Art Nouveaux movement,
and the more modern scripts found in illuminated manuscripts of bibles and
prayer books made in the late 1800's and early 20th century. I jsut saw an
exhibition of Miro's and Marc Chagall's bibles. Almost every chapter of Luke
contains a full page carpet page in the Celtic design. The illuminations are my
own work, I am not copying previous works. The art of manuscript
illumination is continuous, the art is not lost, people have been making Bibles by hand
almost 2000 years, despite what that monastery says.
John Chapters 18 and 19 are an interlinear Polyglot. I translated the
Complutensian Polyglot of Accala Spain made between 1514 -1517 which contains
the Greek and the Latin and then I placed the texts interlinear with the
English. I lined up the texts so that you can see how the text was translated.
And in the course of researching all this I came up with a concordance from
the Greek and the Latin of Old Testament references which are below the text.
Most of the verse initials of Luke are inhabited initials, this
encompasses hundreds of drawings. The calligraphy styles represent the entire
history of manuscript illumination. I made this by studying the manuscripts and
learning how they made their letterforms. Each chapter is written in one script
so I am interested in learning how to make fonts out of these handwriting
styles. If anyone can give me advice on that, that would be helpful! There
should be enough material in each chapter to scan the ligatures and the
combinations. The scripts span the entire history of the Bible from ancient papyri
to the Codex Siniaticus, to the Lindisfarne Gospels, to the Bibles of
Charlemagne, the Norman bibles, the French scripts found in books of hours, all the
way up to the Gutenberg typefaces, and the scripts of more modern
manuscripts. Its all there, and I learned how to do it by myself.
I have scanned the manuscript and I got advice on that from the Getty
and the Met. The imaging of an illuminated manuscript is tricky because of the
The Bible was placed on display at the Biblical Arts Museum in Dallas,
Texas in March and April of this year. Here are news articles including a
video from WFAA TV, I was their Easter Story. It shows me writing the text.
* WFAA TV ran this Easter 2005 video showing me writing the Bible at
my Exhibition at the Center for Biblical Arts in Dallas, the Biblical Arts
Museum in March and April 2005.
* “An Epic Undertaking” The Dallas Morning News, March 15, 2005.
* “Hand Lettering of Bible proves illuminating” The Dallas Morning
News, March 14, 2001. This article interviews the director of the Saint John's
Bible project in 2001 comparing the Bibles.
* “James Pepper: Still toiling, now with pope’s blessing” Dallas
Morning News December 31, 2004
These links can be found on my website which is best found by doing a Google
of “The Pepper Bible.”
I have blessings from the Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of York
and the Archbishop of Canterbury sent a Bible to correct my New Testament in
James G. Pepper
Now Online - The Bonefolder, Vol. 2, No. 1 at <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder>
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