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ExhibitionIlluminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible

Dec 19, 2014–Mar 15, 2015

Exhibition Overview

The Saint John’s Bible is a hand-written and illuminated bible commissioned by the monks of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Celebrated calligrapher Donald Jackson and a team of scribes and illuminators completed the bible over a fifteen-year period employing techniques and materials that untold scribes before them used prior to the invention of the printing press.

The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten Bible that interprets and illustrates scripture from a contemporary perspective, reflecting a multicultural world and humanity’s enormous strides in science, technology and space travel.

In the Benedictine tradition of inclusion, The Saint John’s Bible incorporates elements from the world religions, including Judaism and Islam, as well as influences from the Native American cultures in the Minnesota area. It also documents Minnesota as the birthplace of The Saint John’s Bible through illustrations of flora and fauna indigenous to the region.

The seven volumes comprise 1,150 pages of calfskin vellum, the script is written using hand-cut goose, turkey and swan quills, and the ink is hand-ground lamp black from 19th century Chinese ink sticks. Egg tempera and gold leaf provide vivid color to the illuminations.

Programming & Financial Support

Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council, the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, and from the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions.