Interview with the Author
The Gospel maps have been written by the Revd Susanna Gunner, Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich
First published in 2011, over 12,000 copies of these unique sets of Bible study 'maps' were originally published and all became quickly sold out.
In this interview we asked Susanna to reflect upon the thinking behind them.
What was your inspiration behind the maps?
“I started to write the maps when I was Lay Development Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Norwich. I realised that to reach even a fraction of the many thousands of lay Christians across this Diocese, I was going to have to do more than run courses and organise one-off events. I decided to try to offer tools for deepening faith and discipleship which people could use alone at their kitchen table or with a small group in someone’s home.
Why did you choose this unique map concept?
“I wanted to give people something special: I really hoped that the action of unfolding the map would feel like unwrapping a beautiful gift which drew them more and more deeply into the episode in question. I knew that using the arts to enrich exploration of the gospel would help people to ‘think feelingly and feel thinkingly’.
Have you had any feedback from those using them?
“So many people have kindly got in touch. Here’s my favourite: “Whenever people see and open these maps their eyes light up! Thank you for making it possible for us to explore Christian faith with the whole of our being.” It’s been thrilling to hear about all the different contexts in which they have been used and the ways in which they have appealed to people of varying traditions and experience.
What have you enjoyed most about writing and compiling them?
“I always start a new map by filling a large sheet of paper with as many things as I can think of which relate to the text under the spotlight. I love letting my mind roam freely to make all sorts of connections, unexpected ones as well as the more obvious!
How long did it take to write each set?
“Hundreds of hours! When space is at a premium, every single word counts and crafting a brief paragraph about something rich and multi-layered like a painting or a theological idea takes a huge amount of time and care. Once everything is written and I’ve tracked down my visual images, I go and sit with Gordon Darley at his computer and we start to put things down on the page. I’m indebted to Gordon not just for his technological wizardry but also for his enthusiasm and imagination.
How is it that the maps will now be available nationally?
“The enthusiastic way in which the maps were received in the Diocese of Norwich (3,000 sets of ‘Mapping John’ ordered in just 10 days!) and the fact that they were already being ordered from much further afield encouraged us to seek wider dissemination. The re-edited and newly printed sets in their smart new box covers are now being marketed and sold by the publishing house Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd.”