Sister Wendy Beckett contemplative nun and author

02 November 2006


'I've been deeply impressed by Illuminating the Word. St John's University in Minnesota is making a handwritten Middle Ages-style illuminated Bible, but using modern images [ Arts,10 February]. The Prophets (one of the finished five books) is currently on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The illustrations are extraordinarily subtle, and the book draws us into the meaning of the biblical words.

With images taken from Rwanda, Vietnam, and the everyday junk of our own lives, the illustrators show the rainbow of promise peeping through the debris. The Son of Man emerges from the shadows of monsters that are blown-up images of the HIV virus. The book traces the research to get the right image, and encourages us to open our minds to the meaning and beauty of the Bible. It is contemporary, using the tools of our past, but in a way that is relevant to our present lives.

I've also been reading Prayer and the Priesthood of Christ by Graham Redding, which looks at how Calvinist doctrines are under-stood now. The author shows that Christ is the only priest, and that Christ dwells within us. Though the Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions seem so far apart, we converge on Christ, who is the centre of our lives. It's a beautifully written book, and there is a special joy in reading the wonderful expressions that show us the place of the Lord in our lives.

I don't think that any Christian can study Christology enough. In The Meaning of Jesus, Marcus Borg and N. T. Wright also have different visions of Christ, but share common ground. These two great theologians know and love God; and, despite their different viewpoints, they are one with each other in faith. I am encouraged by this.'
Christopher Calderhead and Jerry Kelly, Illuminating the Word, Liturgical Press US (dist. Veritas), £21.25, 0-8146-9050-5; Graham Redding, Prayer and the Priesthood of Christ, T & T Clark, £25 ( £22.50), 0-567-04241-3; Marcus Borg and N. T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, SPCK, £14.99 ( £13.50), 0-281-05254-9

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