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Artwork for Three Testaments

November 20, 2009
Many people will remember the wise words of Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, at the final session of the May conference in New York, when we began the collaboration leading towards Three Testaments. She was rather passionate about the place of art in such a cross cultural project. Art has its own intrinsic value in such a venture, but in this case, it may also "level the playing field" in guarding against a too dominant role for Western critical methods long agreed to by Jewish and Christian partners but different from Muslim critical approaches. Here is how that has begun to shape up, with a sincere invitation for you to submit ideas, once you recognize the parameters.

List of Illustrations:
Part 1 – woodcuts of Jewish calligraphy and prophetic episodes not addressed in the text
Part 2 – woodcuts of Christian calligraphy and wisdom imagery not addressed in the text
Part 3 – woodcuts of Islamic calligraphy and esoteric materials not addressed in the text

The artwork of this book is intended to be a unifying factor, smoothly connecting the variety of the three styles:
1. The “good read” style of the author in the fifteen chapters
2. The academic style of 3 prefaces and 3 introductions by six scholars (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
3. The scriptural texts of the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran

Except for the cover, the artwork is probably all going to be black and white, consisting of warm and artful woodcuts of classic Jewish, Christian and Muslim scenes in a style associated mainly with Western art, as well as calligraphy that is laden with esoteric meaning in Islamic tradition, as explained in captions, but familiar to Western eyes through medieval manuscript elaboration.

The cover artwork needs to be in color as illustrating the forensic diagrams referred to in the text. A benefit of such cover art could be an image of the book that is less like a Bible that includes the Quran, and more like a study of the related scriptures. An alternative re the color diagrams is to include them as endpapers, though, of course, they will also be available by downloading from the author`s website.

I have been refering to wood cuts and calligraphy, and I have received several suggestions, especially in relation to such material that the New York Public Library is able to supply. However, this is the perfect time to receive submissions from you, the collaborators. If you have original artwork of your own you would like to have included, or if you have favourite pieces that seem to fit the above criteria, please send them to me via comments attached to this blog, or by direct email to me, which is to date the preferred method of communication for many of you.
Posted by: Brian Arthur Brown