Copyright © Baptism of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Primary artist: Donald Jackson
John the Baptist is the patron Saint of Saint John’s Abbey, and so it was decided to give him a prominent place in the Bible’s illuminations. The Gospel of Mark opens with a depiction of Jesus’s baptism, rather than his birth; unusually John the Baptist is in the foreground, the focal point of the image. Having baptised Jesus, John is now leaving but turns to see Jesus reveal His divinity (Sink, 2013; Explore The Saint John’s Bible: Mark - opening page, 2019).
In the background, we see a red-eyed wild beast and two large spiders which represent the temptations and dangers of the desert for Jesus. Jesus, having moments before been baptised, rises up in a cloud of gold (Sink, 2013). The sky is open and angels (or perhaps birds, which are sometimes used as a Biblical metaphor linking the Divine and human worlds) circle overhead, waiting to take Him away (Sink, 2013; Explore The Saint John's Bible: Mark - opening page, 2019)
Explore The Saint John’s Bible: Mark – opening page. (2019).Retrieved from https://www.saintjohnsbible.org/Promotions/Explore/#book/889
Sink, S. (2013). The art of The Saint John’s Bible: The complete reader’s guide. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.