“Community” is a frequently-heard word at UP. When students, faculty and staff are asked what makes UP special, “the sense of community” is often part of their answer. In honor of this sense of community, Clark Library chose the illumination “Life in Community” for the next Saint John’s Bible display.
This detailed illumination appears in the Gospels & Acts volume, illustrating Acts 4:32:35 and its idealized vision of Christ’s followers, e.g. Acts 4:32, “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions.” According to SJB art analyst Susan Sink it borrows from Eastern Orthodox icon traditions, especially icons of the Pentecost:
Pentecostal icons traditionally show the twelve apostles sitting on curved benches as they are here. Additionally, there is usually the figure of an old man in the space below, where the altar is in this image. He is called “Kosmos” and holds a white cloth with twelve scrolls on it, one for each of the twelve apostles. He represents the world that the apostles are being sent out into with the good news. (Sink, The Art of the Saint John’s Bible, vol. 1, p. 104)
In the illumination, several figures hold scrolls; some hold books, and one has a small child.
The Virgin Mary sits at the center of the illumination community, with Peter at her right hand and possibly Paul at her left. Next to them, six apostles sit on each side, and beyond them figures representing saints of the church. The figures at either end of the row are meant to reflect the world church: a man in a Middle Eastern tunic and vest, and a woman wearing a Guatemalan skirt.