The Gospel according to John illuminated


What is the link between the Gospel of John and the semi-arid landscape of outback Australia? The answer is

The Gospel according to John illuminated,
available now my online store

The blessings that Jesus offers in the Gospel – particularly light and life-giving water – are pictured in the transition from red-ochre starkness to abundant life in the refreshed waterways following seasons of rain in the Broken Hill – Menindee region and the southern Flinders Ranges.

The text of the Gospel is set out to show how its original author seeks to persuade readers to trust in Jesus, by presenting who Jesus is as the only Son sent to our world from the Father above, and the amazing gifts he offers. As the writer says in John 20:31,

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples,
which are not written in this book;
but these are written so that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Based on careful reading of the text and theological research, John illuminated seeks to draw people into the world of the Gospel and suggest its depths.

I hope that John illuminated reveals God’s truth, beauty, goodness and joy, highlighted in the Gospel story. I seek to be true to the beauty of the author’s literary craftsmanship; and to reflect the Lord’s goodness and beauty in John’s portrayal of Jesus and in the illustrations of God’s provision in an arid landscape.


Three reviewers respond:

In my experience, opening this book and being captivated by Fiona’s vision expressed in her art, was an invitation to read the text as if for the first time. Whether you know John’s Gospel well or have never read it, I commend this illuminated version to you, so that you can encounter Christ the living Word of God.

Peter F Jensen, Sydney


The illuminated Gospel of John speaks wonderfully, inviting the viewer into contemplation of the text as a beautiful thing in itself. More than this, via the delicacy of Ms Pfennigwerth’s art in colours, layout, font, format and above all painted image, the manuscript draws the willing viewer into meditation on the images of life, light and water by which the Gospel of John opens to us the very life of God’s own self.

Michelle Connolly, Catholic Institute of Sydney


How well do we interact with the Gospel of John as it floods us with images of light, water and life? Words alone, black ink on white paper, hardly do this vivid imagery justice. In response, Fiona Pfennigwerth, skilled artist and accomplished interpreter, illuminates the text with brilliance and radiance. Yet this is no ordinary enlightenment: she sets the words of the Gospel in dialogue with the Australian experience of light, water and life, allowing us to be at home in the challenge the evangelist offers. Her superb artistry enlivens the text, opens us to a venturous re-reading of the familiar, and invites, perhaps insists, that we engage with the text as fully immersed in the Australian landscape. The living water is found beneath our sundrenched feet!

Gerard Moore, Uniting Theological College, North Parramatta


John illuminated flows naturally from The Scrolls illuminated, because I see it as the ‘Gospel of Festivals’. And Ecclesiastes from the Scrolls writes in 3:11,‘He has put eternity into man’s heart…’ and Peter says to Jesus in John 6:68, ‘To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’.


I explain my journey from reading John to designing John Illuminated in this discussion.

And I explain the book’s layout more fully in this paper.