About the class

“The Bible as Book: From the Dead Sea Scrolls to Gideons’ Bibles” (AH 402) is a new course being taught Spring of 2017 by Dr. Kerry Boeye, Assistant Professor of Art History, in close collaboration with Anna Clarkson, Head of Archives and Special Collections, and other members of the staff at LNDL. In the course students are challenged to examine rigorously the material history of the Bible as an object, and to assess how this artifactual legacy is critical to understanding the Bible as a living text through history. Partnering with LNDL is instrumental to the achievement of these learning aims. Throughout the semester, students will work directly with Bibles from the Library’s rare book collection, and will thereby anchor their learning in direct, open-ended research. These opportunities, which are impossible to replicate with conventional classroom resources, manifest and clearly convey to students the importance of material history and original research that underpin the course. The collaboration with LNDL, moreover, will extend to augmenting the benefits of studying historical artifacts with the potential of digital pedagogy. As part of the course, students will create an online exhibition of the Library’s Bibles on a website hosted by the Library. Building the site will engage students with articulating and presenting their work in a public forum, while also prompting them to reflect upon their learning process through research blogs. The cooperation with LNDL is vital to transforming “The Bible as Book” into a distinctive, impactful learning experience, and complements other aspects of the course.

• Students will study at first-hand over thirty Bibles in the Library collection.

• Students will create an online exhibition on a website hosted by the Library, which showcases their learning to an audience that extends far beyond the classroom.

• Students will visit the extraordinary exhibition “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” at the Freer-Sackler Museum in Washington D.C. to complement their study of the Bible by considering the material history of Islam’s sacred book.

• Students will make several visits to the Walters Art Museum to explore the material history of the Bible through the Museum’s world-class collection. Highlights include: fragments of an 8th-century Coptic Bible; the incomparable 13th-century Armenian Gospel Book by the scribe/artist T’oros Rosling; pages from a Gutenberg Bible; and a group of 13th-century Parisian Bibles that students will be able to handle and study individually in a one-day workshop.

• Students will participate in a class discussion led by Dr. Britt Halvorson, Faculty Fellow in Global Studies at Colby College, who will visit Loyola on April 19th. The discussion will center upon Dr. Halvorson’s research, featured in her forthcoming book from University of Chicago Press, on how Lutheran missionaries in 19th-century Madagascar buried Bibles in a manner that paralleled Malagasy traditions of burial and the veneration of ancestors.

• Dr. Halvorson will offer another global perspective on the Bible that same evening in a public lecture in which she will present her research about how the interpretation of a passage from the Gospel of Luke currently shapes the aid relationship of Midwestern Lutherans with their Malagasy counterparts.

• Students will learn about the making of the St. John’s Bible from Suzanne Moore, a renowned artist and calligrapher, who contributed to the creation of the book and will be visiting Loyola in early April. In conjunction with the event, students will examine the Library’s facsimile of the St. John’s Bible, and will participate in a workshop in which they will apply gilding to letters with the guidance of Ms. Moore.