The Scrolls Illuminated

The Scrolls illuminated: an illuminating presentation of The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther from the Bible

Illustrated and designed by Fiona Pfennigwerth

Kindness and severity, romance and sorrow, bewilderment and dawning comprehension… these ancient texts in very different ways explore many of the complexities of life and meaning that people in every age and culture encounter.

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Fiona Pfennigwerth’s accomplishment in this book is nothing short of stunning.  The art that accompanies the biblical text is masterful and speaks to everyone.  The commentary on the Bible that Pfennigwerth has assembled is of the very highest scholarly quality.  The resulting book is unique.  It adorns the biblical text with beauty and insight.

Leland Ryken, Wheaton College, Illinois


The Scrolls Illuminated is a stunning integration of the visual and the verbal, the beauty and shape of creation with the sounds and metaphors of scripture. Artistic imagination and prayerful listening come together in witness to the fullness of God’s revelation. In her calligraphy and painting Fiona Pfennigwerth draws us into the “beauty of holiness”: ­ sheer gift.

Eugene H Peterson, (The Message)


When I looked at The Scrolls Illuminated the word that came to mind is stunning. The great words of the Bible are so beautifully adorned and interpreted by Fiona Pfennigwerth’s magnificent Australian illustrations. This book will be a blessing to many.

Peter F Jensen, Sydney




Song of Songs



From the illustrator…

My aim in producing this book is to illuminate readers’ understanding of the shape and content of each of these Bible books, by presenting them in a way that is sympathetic to the original author, through the design of their layout and typefaces. It comes from my commitment to present the Scriptures in an accessible way to my contemporaries.

I chose to illustrate Australian nature to connect these perhaps 3,000 year old Middle Eastern texts across time, culture and geography to those of us in the 21st century “at the ends of the earth” – and anywhere between.

Rather than limiting readers’ sights to my artistic interpretation of what the people in the stories were doing, I want to broaden their vision to appreciate the texts’ wider purposes and application.

The illustrations in each book are largely from the one habitat, chosen because in some way it suits it. So The Song is bordered by spring flowers; Ruth is decorated by images of   barley harvest; Lamentations shows bushfire damage and regrowth; the ebb and flow of life on the tidal mudflats reflect Ecclesiastes; and for Esther, the lush but rank rainforest.

The illustrations are naturalistic – and thus easily recognised.

This book grew out of many years’ experience studying Bible books by the Manuscript Discovery method, and developed through my studies in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle, Australia. It was the project of my Honours and PhD studies in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle, Australia, based on careful literary and theological research.

In future, I hope to produce an artist’s book edition of these texts in the concertina form in which I exhibited them for my PhD, which enables readers to see at a glance their literary shape.