Sister Jane creates an image of the many books of the Bible

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When graphic designer Sr Jane Maisey, RSJ, hears of a need she can put her artistic talents into, it’s an invitation she can’t refuse.

So when Te Kupenga, the Catholic Theological College lecturer, Father Merv Duffy, SM, asked her if she could create an image that will feature the books of the Bible, she said “yes,” in a way very catholic.

“When you hear a need, the design process or the creation process for someone who is Catholic or who has a spirituality, it is that you have to take it in prayer and you have to give it time because . . .it’s not a math problem in an accounting sense. It’s more of a process of listening to a revelation,” she said.

Father Duffy showed Sr. Jane a picture he had cobbled together of a bookshelf on which the books of the Bible were piled.

But as the creative process swirled in her mind, Sr Jane said she started thinking about stained glass.

“We have such a beautiful tradition with stained glass in our churches around the world. It is the beauty that invites us, the beauty that is not confrontational. It’s welcoming to everyone. It’s seductive,” she said. “So, developing it, I said, ‘ok, let’s do the stained glass thing. “”

Sr. Jane said that a few other people had asked her for such an image, which convinced her that there was a need for a visual representation of the books of the Bible.

She began by dividing the books of the Old Testament into four sections: the Pentateuch, History, Wisdom and Poetry, and the Prophets. An additional pane was devoted to the New Testament.

“Once we had that framework in place, the visuals were accurate,” she explained.

Sr. Jane calculated the correlation between the number of chapters in a book and the width a particular book would have.

“If I draw Genesis it’s almost 50 chapters, how wide will it be in a window?” she says. “With the psalms, there are about 150, so it would take three scrolls.”

When the Old Testament was written it was initially on scrolls, while the New Testament writings took the form of codices and books.

“Once we figured that out, it was about how we were going to label them, what sort of clutter might there be? Theologically, how would this work? What is correct? i really needed help [from] theologians and Bible scholars because that’s not my area of ​​expertise,” she admitted.

Fortunately, she worked not only with theologians, but also for Te Kupenga, the National Center for Religious Studies.

“It so happened that I rubbed shoulders with people who had the skills [that] I can lean on and also be able to ask teachers along the way what their thoughts are and if this is something they would need,” she said. “That’s what’s great about the community. When you work together, it’s beyond your imagination.

She had to make sure that the images like the flowers and the fruits were linked to the scriptures. Such images might be pomegranates for the Pentateuch and poppies for Jesus’ message on the lilies of the field. An eagle represents Wisdom, while the Ark of the Covenant is represented by an acacia tree.

The community, which also included her family, motivated and encouraged her throughout the process.

“When you reach out and work with others, it can become more than you imagine. And that is what our community God calls us to, to do all things in love,” said she declared.

Sr Jane explained that Catholics are “not fierce readers” of the Bible, unlike people of other Christian denominations.

She hopes this poster will help inspire people to read the scriptures.

“We are all invited into relationships through the Word and through beauty, which leads us to goodness and truth,” she said. “Beauty is a revelation that leads to relationship.”

For more information on the Sr. Jane’s Books of the Bible poster, go to www.designjane.com/bible-books-windows-poster-catholic-school-educational-art-resource.

Photo: Sr. Jane Maisey, RSJ, with the Books of the Bible poster

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