My first full day here in Dublin has been largely a “touring day,” focused primarily on delving deeper into places that I only visited yesterday. The highlight of the day has been a visit to Trinity College of Dublin to see “The Book of Kells,” an exquisitely illustrated manuscript of the four gospels that was compiled by Celtic monks sometime around 800 AD.
You can’t take pictures of The Book of Kells. (The ones provided below are photos from the exhibit that accompanies it.) The original is kept behind glass in a room where the temperature and lighting are strictly controlled to make sure that the document doesn’t fade. But even if you could photograph it, I’m not sure that the pictures would do it justice. Even when magnified to a size that is several feet across, as the shots below are, you have to look closely to see the level of detail that has been incorporated into each image. Given the conditions under which the manuscript was created— including the laborious processes that were required to prepare the calfskin on which it’s written and to produce the pigments that were used to illustrate it— it’s remarkable that a work of such intricacy was even possible. But such was the love of these early believers for God’s word that they devoted years of their lives to crafting a copy of the scriptures that would both inspire and educate.
I’m reminded of an observation from Pastor and author Mark Buchanan who wrote:
Curious times, these. There is simultaneously a glut of the Word of God and a famine of it…a drought and a deluge. We have every translation of the Bible you can imagine—the NIV, the NEV, the KJV, the NKJV…the Preacher’s Bible, the Worshiper’s Bible, the Spirit-Filled Believer’s Bible, the left-handed bald gypsy fiddler’s Bible (that last was made up). You can have it in hardback, paperback, leather, or cloth…in pink, blue, red, orange, or psychedelic paisley…with maps and charts and appendices and concordances and holograms of the Temple in the back, and a little sleeve with a CD-Rom that takes you on a guided tour of the Holy Land. The food is out there—and it’s a banqueting table. We’re just picky eaters. Oh, we’re buying Bibles. And sometimes we’re even reading them. But there’s not much evidence that we’re studying them. We’re nibbling, not devouring. And you are what you eat.Mark Buchanan, Your God Is Too Safe
After visiting The Book of Kells, I went on to take tours of several historical sites that yesterday’s walking tour only allowed me to see from the outside. My visits included “The Long Room,” a historic library at Trinity College that’s packed floor to ceiling with rare books and manuscripts; Dublin Castle, where I was able to visit an underground archaeological site that contains foundations and walls from the original Viking settlement on the site that dates back to sometime around 1100; and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where I learned that one of its famous preachers (Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver‘s Travels) had a special pulpit constructed that could be rolled around the worship space, enabling him to preach directly to anyone whom he caught sleeping during his sermon! (Maybe I need to talk with Calvary’s deacons about ordering something like that for our church.) 😁
Of course, after all that history, I needed something a little lighter. So on the way back to my hotel, I stopped by to tour the factory where Guinness is made. And I also walked back through the “Temple Bar” district to see the crowds of weekend revelers.
Since tomorrow is Sunday, I hope to make it a genuine the day of sabbath rest. My plan is to find a church with whom I can worship in the morning. And then I hope to spend the afternoon reading, sitting in a park or two, and listening to music. Naturally, I wish you a restful Sabbath day, too. And I will look forward to sharing more with you as my adventures continue.