James 1:19-21

His Master’s Voice (2009) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper

James echoes Proverbs in the first part of this passage urging us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  But, he continues, you must also rid yourself of all sordidness in order to hear God’s word and plant it in your heart.

James 1:17-18

Shadowless (2009 (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper
These verses describe the unchangeable God as the Father of lights who “gave us birth by the word of truth. Note the contrast with verse 15, which described the process by which evil desire “gives birth to death.”

James 1:12-16

Death’s Life Cycle (2009) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper
These verses form a sort of contrast to James 1:2-4, which describes the spiritual growth caused in a believer by the process of testing and trials. In verses 12-16, the final result of giving in to temptation is seen as spiritual death.

James 1:9-11

Ups and Downs (2009) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper
A reversal of fates is a common theme in the Bible. Living in central Texas, I especially like the image of the rich being compared to wildflowers in a field that bloom and then wither in the heat of the sun.

James 1:5-8

Wavering (2009) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper
James admonishes his readers to petition God in faith and not be double-minded. This last term is a very rare word appearing in the New Testament only here and in James 4:8 where he applies it to those Christians who are having trouble resisting temptation.

James 1:2-4

Topsy-Turvy Teaching (2010) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper
The result of trials, according to James is so that we can become “mature and perfect.”  This seems like a high goal, but it is an echo of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” One commentator has explained that perfection means being all that we can become.

James 1:1

This is the first in a series of posts illustrating all of the Letter of James.

To the Tribes (2010) (9″ x 12″)
collage on paper

James addresses this letter to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion (or diaspora).”  If taken literally, this would mean that he is writing exclusively to Jewish Christians. However, most commentators take this address to mean the Christian community (both Jewish and gentile) at large. This meaning is consistent with usage elsewhere in the NT epistles employing terms formerly designating the Jews as God’s chosen people, but now enlarged to include gentile believers.

Isaiah 13:19-22

Mansion or Menagerie? (2011) (6″ x 4″)
collage on wood panel
In keeping with the recent spate of apocalyptic movies like World War Z, it is interesting to note that the Old Testament prophets similarly warned the people of their day that any civilization stands only if God allows it. Even Babylon was overthrown to become a place where “wild animals will lie down and its houses will be full of howling creatures.” 

Matthew 12:38-40

Type (2009) (6 3/4″ x 8″ x 1 1/2″)
collage in linotype box
I keep coming back to the interesting parallels between Jesus’ life and that of Jonah. The most famous one, of course, is the three days and three nights in the belly of the whale compared to Jesus’ time in the tomb. While scholars continue to debate the exact days of the week included in the latter event, it is interesting to note that there was an ancient belief that a dead person had to travel three days after death to reach Hades.

Mark 16:9-20

Dubious Denoument (2009) (32″ x 16 3/4″ x 1 1/4″)
collage in type case

If most of you try to look up these verses in your Bible, they will be missing or given in small type. This is because they are not present in the earliest existing manuscripts of Mark that we possess. There are several theories to account for their appearance in later manuscripts. The most popular one is that Mark either intended to end his Gospel at verse 8 or that the original ending was lost early in the process of transmission. In either case, someone later on appended verses 9-20 to provide a “more appropriate” ending.
My own feeling, based on structural analysis, is that the last verses of Mark’s original Gospel were lost, but that we can go to the ending of Luke’s Gospel to get a good idea of how it originally read.