Rare Books  >  The Saint John's Bible  >  Introduction

The Saint John's Bible is the first handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible produced in English in over 500 years. Although the techniques for producing The Saint John's Bible, making quills to apply hand-mixed inks to calfskin vellum, are similar to those used by monks centuries ago, this is a 21st-century Bible that includes modern elements and artistic styles. A team of artists and scribes working at a scriptorium in Wales under the direction of Donald Jackson, in consultation with a committee of scriptural scholars and theologians from Saint John's University and Abbey in Collegeville, MN, completed the sacred text and artwork in 2011 after eleven years of work.

So that more people might engage with this beautiful set of Scriptures, Saint John's decided to create Heritage Editions, fine art reproductions that would closely approximate the original. Each of the seven volumes is bound in red Italian calfskin. The paper, designed specifically for the project, has the feel of vellum. The printing and embossing produced text and art similar to the original. Because mechanical processes could not do certain things, the illuminations were treated by hand, which means that each Heritage Edition set is unique.

The Heritage Edition at Creighton University is housed in a viewing stand and cabinet handcrafted by the Saint John's Abbey Woodshop. The design is intended to reference the transatlantic collaboration that produced this magnificent Bible.  The pieces are made primarily of red oak sustainably harvested from the Saint John's University and Abbey campus in Minnesota, while Welsh oak (from a tree that fell on Donald Jackson's farm, where the scriptorium was located) is used for the drawer fronts of the case and the dark hexagonal accents at the corners of the stand.  In addition, the sweep of the legs and the hexagonal elements suggest features of the Abbey's Bauhaus church.

For more about this wonderful work of sacred art and Scripture, please visit The Saint John's Bible website; and that site's online brochure tells more about the Heritage Edition.