Phillip Medhurst

Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage

Tag: sin

Phillip Medhurst presents 011/788 James Tissot Bible c 1899 Cain Leads Abel to Death Genesis 4:8 Gouache 23.9 × 18.7 cm Jewish Museum New York


Phillip Medhurst presents 009/788 James Tissot Bible c 1899 Adam and Eve perceive their nakedness Genesis 3:7 Morgan Museum New York


The Apocalypse Revealed 2

One incarnation of the underground stream of Truth is the Apocalypse of John of Patmos. Unsurprisingly, visions here of the end-time are reflections of dreams of the beginnings. In both, the number seven is key as the time-sequence of the primal story, and light is the symbol by which all other symbols are seen. And yet, as if to emphasise the fact that Truth is not located in sequential order and rational lucidity, the Apocalypse constantly subverts sequence and reason in its presentation of material: the orderly and light-filled procession of the story of creation has become a nightmarish jumble, a reflection of the creation-story seen in a glass darkly – as darkened by sin and as rendered a counterfeit of God’s intended order.



This is a photo of De Loutherbourg’s original drawing pasted into the Bowyer Bible, a grangerized version of the Macklin Bible.

Bowyer Bible 43.6063/6064. Tail-piece to the first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, vignette with sword slicing through a skull with snake in mouth. See 1 Corinthians 15:26. The print: letterpress in two columns above and on verso. 1800. Inscriptions: Lettered below image with production detail: “P J de Loutherbourg RA inv et del”, “J. Heath direx” and publication line: “Published by T Macklin June 17 1800”. Print made by James Heath. Dimensions: Height: 487 millimetres; width: 390 millimetres.

From a collection of photographs of the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England curated by Phillip Medhurst.

Phillip Medhurst



Since Adam delved and Eva span

Man’s waywardness has spoiled God’s plan.

Disease and death here level all;

Our winding-sheet conceals a Fall.

Though God could make a bush to speak,

A dumb child tells us who is weak:

Though He made His dead Son to eat,

Yet feeding some would be a feat,

For they can neither dig nor spin,

And day by day their limbs grow thin.

Such is the consequence of sin.


On Reading Psalms and Holy Verses

Proverbs 1:31; 9:5 

If I could grasp at Truth at all,

In a fine feast of hymnody,

I’d eat my fill; but my own fall

Has made of it a parody.

Beyond my reach, it’s only ash

I savour now, from Dead Sea fruit.

My lot bewailed, my teeth I gnash,

As I grub up fell’s shrieking root:

My birthright sold, my mess it makes.

Sin’s fruitage taught what Adam knows:

With swine the prodigal partakes.

I’ll go, then – glean where Wisdom sows.

Sophia’s fare – her wind-doled meat –

Her manna won’t to poison turn.

With new-washed hands I’ll take, I’ll eat,

Refresh my soul, and lesson learn.

Spiced with sagacity Faith’s songs

Will whet anew my appetite:

Then grown upright and done with wrongs

I’ll taste a fresh and chaste delight.