It’s worth remembering, as Pope Benedict XVI travels across Britain condemning a culture of ‘’aggressive secularism,’’ that in just a few months, the country will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (i.e. the people’s holy book.)
There are dozens of events planned to celebrate the first printing of the sanctioned English bible and its famously beautiful prose, but already one London artist is paying homage to the book – by writing it out, longhand.
That’s Daniel Rapley over there in the corner, trying to shake the cramp out of his hand. Okay, not really. But you can see the result of the young artist’s work, called Authorized, at London’s PayneShurvell, a new gallery opened by Canadian Joanne Shurvell and Londoner James Payne.
While not quite as colourfully elaborate as the illuminated manuscripts that monks used to produce, hunched over by candle light, Rapley’s Bible is still a lovely work of devotion (to his craft, if nothing else). The first page of Genesis (“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.’’) is written in elegant, tiny cursive that a penmanship teacher would applaud. Anyone who’s tried to write even a page in longhand these days will know what a painful exercise it can be, and Rapley is only a fraction of the way through, having written 128,334 of the 788,258 words in the King James version.
Apparently the writing gets messier as the book goes on. However, you can only see the first page that Rapley has written – all the rest of the sheets are neatly stacked underneath. You have to take his word that the rest is there – an act of faith, as it were. Which is, of course, what the Pope thinks is missing from modern life; maybe he can make a quick gallery hop in the Popemobile.