Michael Stevens and Nicolas Fredrickson are good buddies who meet weekly for Bible examine.
Whereas they favored finding out the contents of the Bible, they had been lower than impressed with the design and supplies of the bodily Bibles they had been utilizing.
“The trendy Catholic Bibles…had been sadly all fabricated from low cost supplies,” Fredrickson mentioned. “Even my ‘leather-based’ Bible began peeling and falling aside after just a few years. Granted I used it closely, however I definitely could not move it all the way down to my kids in good situation.”
Fredrickson began accumulating Bibles to match totally different translations and commentaries. He found a complete world of “premium” Bibles, fabricated from the very best high quality supplies – however they had been all Protestant variations.
Stevens shared his frustrations, and the 2 started brainstorming what it might take to supply a high quality Catholic Bible. It helps that Fredrickson is a talented typographer, and Stevens a graphic designer.
“We settled on the thought of a ‘Bible of magnificence’: a Bible that may rekindle an consciousness and appreciation for the Church’s huge custom of sacred artwork, structure, and design. This meant trying to medieval illuminated manuscripts for inspiration, finding out the visible symbology of the Gospels, and even together with high-quality reproductions of among the main treasures of Catholic artwork historical past,” Stevens mentioned.
However by that time, they nonetheless had no thought how they might have the assets to create such a top quality product, or the place they might get the theological commentary that additionally they wished to incorporate.
“We merely trusted that if it was meant to be, we’d work out a technique to both fund it ourselves or pitch it to a writer,” Stevens mentioned.
Little did they know, Phrase on Fireplace – the media ministry based by Bishop Robert Barron – was already engaged on this precise mission, and wanted some graphic designers to assist.
They “chilly e-mailed” Phrase on Fireplace to pitch their thought. That they had lengthy been followers of the Phrase on Fireplace podcast, and Barron’s evangelistic philosophy of “main with magnificence” had been inspirational to them of their quest to design a brand new Bible.
“Inside just a few days, we had been astonished at Phrase on Fireplace’s response. Not solely did they like our thought, they informed us they had been simply ending the manuscript for their very own multi-volume version of the Bible and searching for graphic designers to help within the artistic course of. The copy could be prepared for format in just a few weeks: simply sufficient time to convey us on top of things on the mission and determine on a ultimate artistic path if we had been interested by becoming a member of forces,” Stevens mentioned.
“We really could not imagine our eyes as we learn. We might have by no means imagined a extra excellent state of affairs,” he added.
Brandon Vogt is the senior content material director at Phrase on Fireplace. He informed CNA that the thought for a ravishing Bible that integrated among the artwork of the Church had been within the works at Phrase on Fireplace for about three years.
“To be trustworthy, I used to be initially resistant” to the thought, Vogt informed CNA. “I believed, ‘Oh man, there’s so many examine Bibles on the market, not simply within the Catholic area, however within the Protestant world too. Why would we simply create one other examine Bible?’”
“Our elementary mission at Phrase on Fireplace is evangelizing the (religiously) unaffiliated, the ‘nones,’” he added. “Research Bibles sometimes cater towards the already dedicated Christians that wish to do a Bible examine which are already into the Scriptures. So I believed – it is not likely hitting our audience. So I sort of pushed again just a little bit.”
However the thought caught, and Vogt mentioned when he was pressed to consider the potential that this Bible might have, he started to appreciate that it could possibly be evangelistic in nature. He thought of how many individuals’s first expertise with the Bible is that it’s tough to learn – it’s sometimes printed in small, black and white columns on skinny paper.
“We wished to make it a feast for the eyes as a lot for the thoughts. In order that was the primary precept, is to steer with magnificence. We wished it to be a ravishing Bible.”
Vogt mentioned additionally they wished the commentary within the Bible to be geared towards individuals who had been studying their Bibles for the primary time.
“We wished to deal with the extra primary questions of – who’s God? Who’s Jesus Christ? How does the Scriptures reveal God and Christ?” he mentioned.
The third distinguishing issue of this new Bible could be that it was introduced “from the guts of the Church,” he mentioned. “So we wished to showcase the Scriptures in mild of two,000 years of saints and mystics and students and Bible consultants.”
This comes within the type of theological commentary from folks just like the Church fathers all the way in which to up to date Catholics like G.Okay. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, or Bishop Barron, he mentioned.
“So it is sort of a multivalent illumination of the Scriptures. You are seeing it learn and interpreted via this refrain of voices from 2,000 years from the Church’s historical past,” Vogt mentioned.
In addition they took as their inspiration the illuminated manuscripts from the medieval interval, which had been hand-written and painted copies of the Bible, often executed on animal pores and skin pages, with gold or silver leaf detailing.
“We wished to make it merely essentially the most lovely Bible ever produced for mass distribution… possibly essentially the most lovely Bible because the illuminated manuscripts.”
One of many first duties was to pick out the scriptural commentary that may be included within the first quantity, Vogt mentioned. The workforce scoured a whole lot of books and assets and “whittled it down” to roughly 300 items of commentary.
Stevens took the lead on discovering items of sacred artwork that may be included within the Bible, which ended up being about 10 or 11 items per Gospel.
“This facet of the Bible was an absolute pleasure to dive into,” Stevens mentioned. “The Church’s custom of artwork is so huge, and so huge, and so deep. One of many primary concerns right here was the truth that most Catholics know little or no in regards to the creative custom of the Church. Even engaged, well-read Catholics are sometimes sadly uninitiated to the various types and actions within the historical past of sacred artwork.”
But, he mentioned, he additionally wished to make it partaking for the extra seasoned sacred artwork fanatic as properly. The artwork featured within the first quantity consists of works that may be acknowledged by most Catholics, just like the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in addition to some lesser-known works.
Fredrickson did a majority of the web page format for the Bible, which included retaining the commentary on observe with its appropriate place within the Bible. He additionally did a lot of the work on the Angelico font, a brand new font created particularly for the Bible.
Stevens added that there have been different design selections made so as to add to the readability of the Bible – it’s a single column as a substitute of a number of columns, and has a grid format which retains the pages organized and even ensures that the kind traces up on each side of the double-sided pages.
“Whereas this would possibly sound dry and technical, I feel it in the end does join very powerfully to…evangelization. As designers, we imagine it is essential that the design of a e book mirror the true character of the textual content itself, no matter that character is perhaps. On this case, we had been coping with the very Phrase of God, so we felt it was our obligation to deal with it as reverently and superbly as we might,” he mentioned.
“The extra simply the reader can navigate the e book and its layouts, the extra they will commit their consideration to the content material itself,” he added.
For the printing and compilation of the bodily copies of the Bible, Fredrickson instructed the corporate Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto, or LEGO, a family-owned craft workshop with a historical past of manufacturing high-end Bibles.
“LEGO paid consideration to the small print of paper selections, binding, foiling, and so forth in a method that was unmatched,” Fredrickson siad. “They had been the masters of the business, and if we wished a Bible that may be an heirloom, they had been those who would make it occur.”
The Bible additionally introduced some new challenges for LEGO, together with using effective artwork within the Bible and gold accents printed on the leather-based cowl.
“It was really one thing new even for one of the best e book producers on this planet,” he mentioned. After many emails, calls, conferences, and press checks, we had the right mixture. LEGO is simply as happy with this consequence as we’re.”
“The aim just isn’t merely to transmit historic info,” Bishop Barron says in one of many Bible’s promotional movies, “however to facilitate an encounter with a Divine individual – with Jesus.”
It makes use of the By way of Pulchritudinis – the “method of magnificence” referenced by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Barron says in one other video.
The great thing about the complete Bible – the content material, the commentary, the duvet, the format, the artwork – every little thing is supposed to attract the reader into an encounter with God via its charming magnificence, he notes.
“This Bible is a Cathedral in print.”