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Liturgical Press

Planting Letters and Weaving Lines

Calligraphy, The Song of Songs, and The Saint John’s Bible

Jonathan Homrighausen; Foreword by Ewan Clayton

Planting Letters and Weaving Lines
Planting Letters and Weaving Lines

ISBN: 9780814688168, 8816

Details: 184 pgs, 7 x 10
Publication Date: 10/15/2022

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$29.95
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$21.99
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The illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible have delighted many with their imaginative takes on Scripture. But many struggle to appreciate the calligraphy more deeply than merely noting its beauty. Does calligraphy mean something? How is it beautiful?

This book, written by a biblical scholar who has spent years working with this Bible, shows how calligraphic art powerfully interplays visual form, textual content, and creative process. Homrighausen proposes five lenses for this artform: gardens, weaving, pilgrimage, touching, and enfleshing words. Each of these lenses springs from the poetry of the Song of Songs, its illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible, and medieval ways of understanding the scribe’s craft. While these metaphors for calligraphic art draw from this particular illuminated Bible, this book is aimed at all lovers of calligraphy, art, and sacred text.

Jonathan Homrighausen, a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible at Duke University, teaches in Judaic Studies at the College of William & Mary. His research explores the intersection of Hebrew Bible, calligraphic art, and scribal craft. He is the author of Illuminating Justice: The Ethical Imagination of The Saint John's Bible (Liturgical Press, 2018) and articles in Religion and the Arts, Image, Teaching Theology and Religion, Transpositions, and Visual Commentary on Scripture.

Reviews

“Following the work he began with Illuminating Justice (2018), this latest offering from Jonathan Homrighausen is an embodied experience in and of itself, full of the sounds of the stylus on parchment, the rich earth of the garden from which the letters spring forth, and the journey of the eye on a pilgrimage across these pages. Homrighausen shows that matter not only matters when thinking about incarnational theology, but indeed that 'sensory experience is taken to be a sacramental embodiment of divine presence' and is as important in the exquisite contemporary performance of the art of The Saint John’s Bible project as it was in the scribal illuminations of the medieval world. Homrighausen guides us on a journey through the page and into the sacramental imagination, and like all pilgrimages, the graces will surely continue to be revealed.”
Kathryn Barush, Thomas E. Bertelsen Jr. Associate Professor of Art History and Religion, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, and author of Imaging Pilgrimage: Art as Embodied Experience

“This thoughtful book gives the Song of Songs its due in modern Christian art, restoring visual intrigue to a religious classic in a style both enjoyable and engaging.”
George Greenia, Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages, Founder of the William & Mary Institute for Pilgrimage Studies

"This thoughtful book epitomizes its main themes as it weaves insights into the theology and creation of The Saint John’s Bible. Homrighausen uses strands of spirituality, the experience of physical making, and scholarship as his warp to clothe this illuminated Bible with new insights. His added layers of meaning continue its life and impact on its readers—and even, in my case, on its creators."
Susan Hufton, artist and scribe for The Saint John’s Bible

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Homrighausen’s writing style is both authoritative and lively—a rare combination! His research is a treasure trove of material drawn from various disciplines.”
Arthur Holder, Professor of Christian Spirituality, Graduate Theological Union, and author of The Venerable Bede: On Song of Songs & Selected Writings

"Homrighausen’s presentation of the Song of Songs as presented in The Saint John’s Bible is, simply put, luminous. With elegance and concision, this study contextualizes The Saint John’s Bible’s distinctive, if often overlooked, visual presentation of the Song in a sweeping history of the biblical book’s language and history of interpretation, even as it articulates the deeply intertextual web of biblical language that underlies the manuscript’s imagery. In this volume, itself a study of the eloquence of imagery and the vividness of words, Homrighausen models the rich synergy among media with a sensitivity true to one who is both a scholar and an artist."
Rabbi Laura Lieber, Professor of Religious Studies, Duke University, and author of A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue

"While his proximate subject is the calligraphy of the Song of Songs in The Saint John’s Bible, Homrighausen offers a wise, wide-ranging meditation on what it means to have an embodied relationship with a sacred text. With the acuity of a scholar and the joyful appreciation of a practitioner, Homrighausen thoughtfully calls our attention to points at which myriad threads intertwine, from the art historical to the biblical and theological. Personally, this book prompted me to discover new meanings and new power in biblical passages I thought I already knew intimately, including my own family motto, “Love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6). I expect others will find Homrighausen’s volume holds similarly unexpected exegetical treasures."
Aaron Rosen, Professor of Religion & Visual Culture and Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of Brushes with Faith: Reflections and Conversations on Contemporary Art