The Saint John’s Bible
The Saint John’s Bible
Thanks to an anonymous donor, the Cathedral is the proud owner of a heritage copy of the Saint John’s Bible. Here are some interesting facts about it:
First illuminated manuscript Bible in more than 500 years.
Sponsors—Benedictine Monks of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Commissioned in 1998 as a millennium project originally proposed by Donald Jackson and led by Br. Dietrich Reinhart, Abbot of Saint John’s at the time.
Chief calligrapher & creative director Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Queen Elizabeth. He chose the calligraphers and artists.
Translation—New Revised Standard Version. In seven volumes: Pentateuch 2003, Historical Books 2010, Wisdom Books 2006, Psalms 2004, Prophets 2005, Gospels & Acts 2002, Letters & Revelation 2011.
Committee for illumination & text
- Comprised equally of men and women, scholars and artists.
- Each would read the text, meditate and pray.
- Decided which verses to illuminate and suggest themes.
- Each artist developed a plan and prototype to present to the committee.
- Same techniques used by ancient scribes & illuminators.
- All organic materials: vellum (calf skin) & ground lamp black, carnelian, lapis lazuli, gold leaf, etc. mixed with egg yolk and water.
- Wrote with goose, turkey or swan feather quills.
- 12 scribes worked in Donald Jackson’s scriptorium in Wales.
- One scribe to do facing pages.
- Six artists: three in the United States, three in the United Kingdom.
- Each was free to use his or her own style of art.
- Gold: the presence of the divine.
- Black: absence of the divine, sins of commission.
- Vacuous spaces: sins of omission.
- 299 copies so far, reproduced as accurately as possible.
- Special cotton paper to reproduce the weight of vellum.
- Shadows on prior or subsequent pages “bleed through” to reproduce the appearance of translucent vellum.
- Gold leaf for all the gold in all 299 copies.
Word Made Flesh, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Adam and Eve, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Garden of Eden, Donald Jackson with contributions from Chris Tomlin, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.