The Book of Kells

Topics: Illuminated manuscript, Jesus, Insular art Pages: 3 (987 words) Published: February 7, 2007
"The Book of Kells- Arrest of Christ", Insular Monks, on vellum, c. 900 B.C., now in the Trinity College library

When Saint Patrick began the Christianization of the Celts in 432, he empowered the development of a unique form of monastic organization. Irish monasteries meshed traditional Christianity with cultural values of the British Isles, creating the Hiberno-Saxon style of art, best known for its illuminated manuscripts of the Christian Church. Irish monks illustrated Gospels as a method of spreading the Word of God to a predominantly illiterate population. The most elaborate of these Liturgical books is the Book of Kells, a fusion of artistic styles. The book contains the four gospels, along with illuminations of the evangelists and important biblical scenes. It is difficult to believe that the complexities of Christianity were conveyed by pictures, but in actuality these illustrations emphasized the quintessential elements of Christian faith. Rather than focusing on minor details, such art enabled the public to comprehend the overall message of Christianity. A prime example of this is the illustration of Christ's arrest in the Book of Kells, which flawlessly relates the intense emotions and significance of the event. According to the Gospel of John, after the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples travel to a garden called Gethsemane in Jerusalem, which most scholars believe to have been an olive grove. When the group arrives, Jesus leaves them in order to pray privately. He asks God to take his burden from him, requesting that the need for his struggles be alleviated. Ultimately, though, concludes that he will do whatever is God's will. After Jesus returns from praying, Judas arrives with a crowd of soldiers. Judas gives Jesus a kiss, a pre-arranged sign to identify Jesus, and the soldiers immediately arrest him. One of Christ's disciples pulls his sword and attempts to stop the soldiers from making the arrest, but Jesus criticizes the...
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