I’ve just come back from taking a fabulous course at Oxford University from Dr. Aphrodite Papayianni about Byzantium. In this course she taught me to read icons and illustrated manuscripts of the Greek Orthodox. I had some knowledge of the illustrated manuscripts of the Northern Rennaissance but already knew that was different from those of Byzantium. I have actually taught the making of illustrated manuscripts but by no means count myself a scholar on the meanings of them. I now recognize the actual beauty of all of these manuscripts in many ways stem from the Byzantine era and was so engrossed in learning the meanings of design that I find myself spending more and more time deciphering these ancient and lovely depictions of biblical stories. Just yesterday I spent an hour or more marveling at hand positions of Jesus and the saints giving us clues to what it’s all about. Fascinating stuff folks if you’ve never delved into the world of manuscript illustration. Luckily, I was brought up in the church so knowing the stories helps. But seeing the opulence the illuminators and scribes depicted with their careful drawings and calligraphy is mind blowing. Being a book illustrator myself, I feel an affinity with these ancient artists. I marvel that these lovely manuscripts still survive considering, well everything our earth has been through. I marvel even more that we have scholars such as “Miss Aphrodite” who help the lowliest of us understand not that these illustrations are art, but they are timeless communications from beyond. Thanks Aphrodite!