To commemorate the 400th anniversary of one of the greatest books in the English language, MOBIA organized On Eagles’ Wings: The King James Bible Turns 400. The exhibition explored the historic context in which the King James Bible was translated and published beginning with an examination of its predecessors, most notably the Bishop’s Bible sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 and singled out as the model to which the translators commissioned by King James were to follow as closely as possible. The exhibition presented the touchstones of the translation process examining how this work was and continues to be inspirational for various audiences over time.
The exhibition also featured the series of paintings commissioned from Makoto Fujimura, a contemporary artist working in New York City. Fujimura was commissioned by Crossway Publishers to design and illustrate an English Standard Version of the Bible in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. He created five large works and a series of small paintings for each Gospels’ chapters. The frontispiece, entitled Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ), sets the tenor for the artist’s spiritual exercise. Fujimura writes:
I painted the five large-scale images that illuminate this volume, The Four Holy Gospels, using water-based Nihonga materials (Japanese style painting), with my focus on the tears of Christ (John 11) – tears shed for the atrocities of the past century and for our present darkness.
Fujimura considered Gospel book, chapter and verse in preparation for each composition. Process and work underscore the relevance of the King James Bible in today’s culture and demonstrate the very vibrant continuum of biblical art.