A review of Sister Wendy’s Bible Treasury

One of my little pleasures in life is to heave home from the local library an art book far too expensive and heavy to buy and admire its shiny pages. The best sort of all are those which ‘open up’ the world of great art to an amateur like me – pointing out the techniques and images employed by the artist. Sister Wendy Beckett will be known to many from her previous books of this type.She has a proven ability to describe what is ‘happening’ in a painting in a way which draws the reader in.

The Bible Treasury, however, is a little different.This is neither a paintings book nor a Bible book – but a combination of the two.If you are looking for the kind of minute analysis of paintings you have found in other books by Sister Wendy, you won’t find it here. Equally, if you are looking for an in depth analysis of the Bible this is not the place to look. The clue, as they say, is in the name – treasury.

This is the kind of book you will want to dip into. In its two hundred or so pages, you will find introductions to all different kinds of Biblical literature. There are also portions of Biblical text, some paintings simply by way of illustration and others receiving Sister Wendy’s more usual critical treatment.The book would make a perfect gift for a person with a only a little knowledge of the Bible, a passing interest in great art – or both.

Last year, we held a Bible photo competition in this church as part of our Biblefresh programme. Entrants were asked to illustrate a verse of their choice from the King James Bible with a photo. The result was a glorious tapestry of the arty, the ethereal, the comical and the familiar. The most common question posed by visitors to the exhibition was “which came first”? In other words – did people pick a verse and then illustrate it, or pick a photo and then find a verse to fit? The answer is that they did both. Not only that, but both are equally valid. To look at the Bible through creative eyes, or through your camera’s viewfinder with Biblical eyes are both worthwhile exercises.

Sister Wendy’s book might just help you to do both!

Sister Wendy’s Bible Treasury: Sister Wendy Beckett SPCK Publishing. PRICE £14.99

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