The Bible is often called “the greatest story ever told.” But rarely—if ever—is it described as “a light read.” Our appreciation of biblical stories can be hindered by archaic vocabulary, unfamiliar settings, and age-old references which we are far-removed from. It can be helpful, therefore, to have a guide through the Bible, an interpreter to offer clarity to an otherwise mystifying text.
For many, Adolf Land has been one such guide.
In 1957, Land started Pathway Thru the Bible—a massive, scripturally-inspired gallery of sculptures northeast of Joliet. Land put countless hours into bible study and supplemental research before attempting to interpret the stories through sculpture. Stone was the most common material used in rendering each scene; however, Land also used agates, seashells, petrified wood, and other materials for his creations. The pillars in “Solomon’s Porch” were salvaged from a Red Lodge bank. The cast-iron stairs leading to “The Wisemen’s Tower” are from the Steamship Josephine.
Land worked on Pathway Thru the Bible for more than two decades, in total creating thirty installations.
When he passed away in 1984, his wife, Helen, had difficulty maintaining the property on her own and found Rick and Verdine White to become its caretakers.
To this day, Pathway Thru the Bible is well-tended and free for visitors to explore. A pamphlet is available for self-guided tours, providing context for each of the installations. Visitors are presented with the scriptures, some analysis (in plain English), and occasional details about a sculpture’s creation. The written and visual components play off one another, underscoring the soul-stirring nature of these texts.
On the pamphlet cover, Helen Land sums up Pathway Thru the Bible in two sentences: “The Lord gave the Word [Psalm 28:11]. My husband put the Word in stone.”
Pathway Thru the Bible is located at 9739 U.S. Highway 212 near Joliet. For more information, call (406) 962-3497.