"Renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson approached the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s University and Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, with his life-long dream: to create the first handwritten, illuminated bible commissioned since the invention of the printing press. The Saint John’s Bible uses ancient materials and techniques to create a contemporary masterpiece that brings the Word of God to life for the contemporary world."—saintjohnsbible.org
"Monumental. In the tradition of great medieval Bibles, The Saint John's Bible will be monumental—two feet tall and three feet wide and more than 1,000 pages bound in seven distinct volumes.
Contemporary. Though each letter is rendered by hand, The Saint John's Bible uses state-of-the-art computer technology to create and manage page layout.
It will interpret and illustrate scripture from a contemporary perspective, reflecting a multicultural world and humanity's enormous strides in science and technology. English translation and the themes of the Bible reflect the Church in the modern world.
Ecumenical. Saint John's Abbey and University are dedicated to ecumenism. The text, translation and imagery in The Saint John's Bible reflect this commitment." More is here...
New Revised Standard Version. "When theologians and scholars met at Saint John's to research and discuss the question of translation, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was the obvious choice for The Saint John's Bible for a number of reasons.
First, its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version, had gained the distinction of being officially authorized for use by all major Christian churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox." More is here...
"In 1856, Benedictine monks originally from Bavaria traveled to Minnesota and built an abbey dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. They brought with them a vision of the future and the role of education that inspired them to found Saint John's University. They also brought a tradition steeped in 1500 years of monastic history." More is here...
"For monastics, literacy and collection, care and preservation of books, the Bible in particular, have always been foundational to their spiritual identity and to the work and prayer of their daily lives." More is here...
Scriptorium in Wales
"Donald Jackson’s scriptorium is located in Wales where he spends most of his time working on The Saint John’s Bible. He leads a team of calligraphers writing and illuminating the Bible. The team is made up of skilled scribes, some who work at the scriptorium and others who take pages of vellum back to their own studios. Mr. Jackson comes to Saint John’s on a regular basis. There he consults with the Committee on Illumination and Text, meets with friends of the project and spends time on the Saint John’s campus." More is here... Take a quick photo tour of the Scriptorium.
On March 8, Ash Wednesday, the first words of The Saint John's Bible are penned on vellum by Donald Jackson. The verses, from the gospel of John, mark the beginning of this monumental project. Thus the first verses are "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, the Word was God..."
On April 20, in a special ceremony, the first completed volume of The Saint John's Bible, Gospel and Acts, is revealed to the public.
In August Donald Jackson arrives to present the second completed volume, the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament and features illuminations of Creation, the Ten Commandments, and the Death of Moses.
On April 22, Donald Jackson presents the completed Book of Psalms at a press conference at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This marks the third completed volume...
Saint John's Abbey and University received Prophets, the fourth volume of The Saint John's Bible. The reception coincided with the debut of the national and international tour at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, April 9th - July 3rd. The touring exhibition features pages from Gospels and Acts, Psalms, and Pentateuch...
In July three representatives of Saint John’s traveled to Monmouth, Wales to bring Wisdom Books, the fifth volume completed, home to Minnesota. Donald Jackson formally presented the volume to the Committee on Illumination and Text at Saint John’s on September 28th.
Illuminating the Word, the national touring exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible, is placed on exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. from October through December.
On April 1 the Heritage Edition, the full size museum quality reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible, officially enters production.
The Saint John’s Bible takes it place along other great manuscripts of the world by being exhibited along side such world renowned masterpieces as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls.A more detailed chronology is here.
"Vision and Values. The Saint John's Bible, consistent with the educational mission, values and vision of Saint John's University, is a spiritual, educational and artistic endeavor and a significant contribution to the new millennium. The Saint John's Bible is guided by the following vision and values:
Ignite Imagination. With the same dynamic relationship that existed between medieval Benedictine houses and the scribes whose talents they engaged, Saint John's Abbey and University and calligrapher Donald Jackson, in collaboration with many from the wider community, will produce a Bible, a work of art, that will ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world.
Glorify God's Word. A Biblical illumination takes the Word of God and glorifies it by transforming the Word into a complementary art form employing illustration, color and design. The Saint John's Bible is meant to be a prophetic witness to the glory of the Word of God and to humankind's God-given dignity.
Revive Tradition. In the Middle Ages, monasteries were leaven in both church and society. They were centers of culture and learning which kept the tradition of scriptural reading alive for the whole world. They helped preserve knowledge and culture for the sake of the larger human family.
In commissioning a handwritten, illuminated Bible, Saint John's revives a tradition that has been nearly absent from the Christian world since the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. The Saint John's Bible affirms this community's commitment to the study of Scripture, to the book arts and to educational, artistic, spiritual and scholarly pursuits.
Discover History. Scholars have speculated about the processes and challenges involved in creating a great manuscript. The Saint John's Bible will allow art and cultural historians the opportunity to experiment in historical discovery, to explore a process that was once a core activity of human civilization.
Foster the Arts. The Saint John's Bible with its spiritual themes and art will reflect the cultural context both of Saint John's and contemporary society. During the time that it will take to create the piece, Saint John's intends for it to be a source of artistic vitality both inside and outside the Saint John's community.
Give Voice. The Saint John's Bible seeks to give voice and expression to those who are now unprivileged. By involving many people, The Saint John's Bible will be linked to other commentaries, and other images, other interpretations and understandings. Inviting various groups to contribute to The Saint John's Bible extends the arms of churches to the marginalized in the true spirit of Christianity." More is here...
• December 11, 2007 - March 9, 2008 - Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
• April 11, 2008 - June 8, 2008 - Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada
• July 11, 2008, 2007 - September 5, 2008 - Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
Christianity Today's article "The Bible in Brush & Stroke" is a worthwhile read. View the 12-image slideshow that accompanies CT's article. The Art of the Saint John's Bible: A Reader's Guide to Pentateuch is also available.
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Photo Credits: Christianity Today
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