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Divine Inspiration: Revealing the Sacred in Biblical Texts and Imagery

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An Introduction from the Curators

Based on the physical exhibit installed on the first floor of Falvey Library, this complimentary digital exhibit showcases the historically significant Bibles featured in the physical exhibit, and expands on the subject with additional supplemental biblical material from Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections. From scroll to manuscript codex to the hand-press printed book, Bible production has been a driving force behind global textual revolutions. These selections demonstrate the multitude of ways in which producers of sacred texts incorporated new media technologies into existing Biblical traditions to create the Bible anew. As this exhibit illustrates, the Bible is not dead, but continues to be a dynamic object with enduring spiritual impact for readers from its inception to today.

As the curators of the exhibit, we worked together on the concept and installation of the physical exhibit. The idea for this exhibit first came about because we knew we wanted to do an exhibit highlighting the historically important bibles in Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections, and grew from there. Both curators contributed didactic material based on our respective expertise. Meg Piorko focused on Biblical translations, hand-press printing practices, and material textual culture, while Mike Sgier contributed to the cases highlighting biblical imagery, engraving practices, and an extremely prolific 19th century biblical illustrator, Gustave Doré.

In organizing the exhibit reception ‘Envisioning Celestial Beings’, we had the privilege to connect with Biblical scholars and special collections professionals from Villanova and the greater Philadelphia region. The reception featured a lively panel discussion between Peter Spitaler, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Villanova University; Jennie Castillo, Curator of the University Art Collection & Art Gallery Director, Villanova University; Heather Willever-Farr, Special collections Librarian, La Salle University. The conversation centered on the ambiguity inherent in visually articulating the concept of divinity. Since the beginning of humanity humans have attempted to illustrate religious imagery such as deities, rituals, and parables. Past iconographic tropes continue to influence how artists and craftsmen visually depict divinity today.

We are excited to present the digital version of this exhibit, which allows us to showcase more materials and details of materials in the physical exhibit to a much larger audience.

Meg Piorko, PhD
Distinctive Collections Librarian

Mike Sgier, MFA
Distinctive Collections Coordinat
or

Jacob's Dream, Gustave Doré