Carmelite Nun Sister Wendy Beckett's latest book combines Bible passages and many famous pieces of western art, providing insight into both.
Noli Me Tangere: Fra Bartolommeo
Sister Wendy is one of those figures who defy the neat boxes in which we like to place public figures. A Carmelite nun and hermit who also happens to have presented TV shows on art. A celebrated and successful author who lives a life of voluntary poverty. Her attraction is probably down to the difficulty in categorising her, obviously in addition to her sharp wit and perceptive art critiques.
SPCK offer us her latest book in which she recounts much of the Biblical narrative, both Old and New Testaments, through the paintings of leading artists. Sister Wendy takes a good length of Bible passage, with a short introduction, and uses several works of art of the 12th to the 19th centuries, to help he reader meditate on the passage.
As it is Lent I decided to use this book for a while in my devotions and found I was achieving two things at once. The author's own lucid style and the wonderful works of art helped to give familiar passages freshness, and I also gained insight into just how influential the Bible has been throughout Western history.
The problem with many books on art is the price. Large, coffee-table style books seems to be the norm, and while they look great do limit the audience. The publisher has found the right balance here between price and binding, with a softcover product but with a quality cover and glossy, full-colour interior pages.
The Sower: Vincent van Gogh
I found Sister wendy's own mediations on the paintings incredibly moving - bring to life the artists techniques, the drama within the work of art and the interpretations and meanings behind it. Her skill as a story-teller, a theologian and an art critic make this the perfect vehicle for her. A delight to take time over and lose oneself in for a few hours.
Published by SPCK. Buy Sister Wendy's Bible Treasury now from Eden.co.uk.
March 19th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews