The Saint John’s Bible: Beauty and Truth

Genesis

Genesis

It was kind of a crazy idea: produce a large-sized Bible on calfskin using handwritten script, 19th century inks, goose and turky quills, and vivid illuminations. But crazy as it seemed, Saint John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota took on the project, commissioning Queen Elizabeth’s official scribe, Donald Jackson, to oversee it. The handwritten and illustrated Bible took 11 years to complete and a team of 16 scribes and illustrators. You can see this amazingly beautiful Bible here in the Augustana College Library as presented in the Heritage Edition, a fine art facsimile of the orignal manuscript. All 7 volumes of the Heritage Edition are on display this month, until Dec. 15; two of the volumes–Pentateuch and Gospels–will remain on campus all year. One of the unique qualities of SJB is its reflection of contemporary concerns as depicted in its illustrations that include not only the achievements and wonderful diversity of history and our current world but also the devastation caused by war, genocide, and changing environments and cultures. The vision for SJB was to inspire with beauty and with truth. If you want to know more, drop by the library Thursday between 4:30 and 6:30 to view and turn the pages of the SJB, and attend the lecture at 7:00 in Larson Hall, presented by Tim Ternes, curator of the SJB manuscript at Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota.

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