An upcoming presentation on Whimsy and Humor in The Saint John’s Bible will likely include this image, previously presented on this blog in January 2014.
A ring-tailed lemur swings on vines adjacent to a passage, the first lines of 2 Chronicles 11. The text reads:
2 “But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God: 3 “Say to [King Rehoboam of Judah, Son of Solomon, and to] all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, 4 ‘Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up or fight against your kindred. Let everyone return home, for this thing is from me.’ So they heeded the word of the Lord and turned back from the expedition against Jeroboam.”
The text in brackets is missing. In the original Saint John’s Bible, written in ink on vellum, the scribe could scrape off a faulty stroke or character, but each page of the Bible took 7 to 10 hours to write and so missing lines of text were a bigger issue. The Bible artists solved the problem in a whimsical way, by recruiting animals to lift the missing line into place. Take a look at the display page; the missing line appears at the bottom of the page, and the lemur’s vines have snared it. The vine in the lemur’s right hand traces the correct location for the missing text.
Artist Chris Tomlin, who studied natural history illustration at the Royal College of Art in London, drew many botanical and animal images for The Saint John’s Bible, some of which appeared in previous images on this blog, such as the chameleon at the end of 2 Maccabees, the butterflies on Jacob’s Ladder, and the coral snake and other animals in the Garden of Eden / Adam and Eve illumination. This ring-tailed lemur from Madagascar is the favorite of several library staff.