Makoto Fujimura-The Four Holy Gospels

Four Holy Gospels_Letter2o celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Crossway Publishing commissioned  Makoto Fujimura to create the Four Holy Gospels, a contemporary illuminated manuscript. The meeting of so many different cultures, the ancient tradition of the illuminated manuscript, the traditional Japanese painting medium known as Nihonga, the modern language of abstract expressionism, and most importantly, the word of God, beautifully reflects the truth of the Gospel as a message to all peoples, places,  and times.

Fujimura's presentation of the frontispieces for the Four Holy Gospels

Fujimura’s presentation of the frontispieces for the Four Holy Gospels

Fujimura uses Nihonga, ground mineral pigments, hide-glue, and water, a medium dating back to Japan's Middle Ages.

Fujimura uses Nihonga, ground mineral pigments, hide-glue, and water, a medium dating back to Japan’s Middle Ages.

Charis Kairos (Tears of Christ)

Charis Kairos (Tears of Christ)

Fujimura’s illuminations range from non-representational to suggestive abstractions (like the tree above). The subtlety of these more contemplative images, as compared to the lavish detail of traditional illumination, reflects his Japanese training and creates a meditative atmosphere for the reader. The pictures do not tell the story, the words can do that much better. Instead, they serve to slow readers down by giving their eye something to drift through as they contemplate the word of God. It is often intangible and impossible to explain, but something about the abstract, and often minimal, additions to the text just feels right, as if Fujimura is sensitive to the kind significant form that resonates with the meaning of the words.

Consider the Lilies (Matthew)

Consider the Lilies (Matthew)

 

Water Flames (Mark)

Water Flames (Mark)

 

Prodigal God (Luke)

Prodigal God (Luke)

 

In the beginning was the Word (John)

In the beginning was the Word (John)

“We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

– Makoto Fujimura–

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