The Saint John's Bible

Sacred Scripture and Benedictines are inseparable. Called to pray at critical points during the day, a monk centers his life on the Liturgy of the Hours, a set pattern of prayer composed of Psalms, biblical readings, and hymns. It should be no wonder that when the community of Saint John's Abbey was looking for a way to mark the turn of the millennium, the Bible in some way should play a role.

Bible2.jpgIn 1996, the Queen of England's calligrapher and longtime friend of the abbey, Donald Jackson, suggested to Fr. Eric Hollas that Saint John's should sponsor him to complete a handwritten Bible using parchment and quill. Fr. Eric brought the idea to Saint John's University president, Br. Dietrich Reinhart, who in turn raised the possibility with Abbot Timothy Kelly. It did not take long for the monastic community as well as monastic and non-monastic faculty members and Donald Jackson to begin work on the project. From the get-go The Saint John's Bible has been a grand collaboration between artists, calligraphers, theologians, historians, and scholars stretching across the Atlantic.




Explore the Saint John's Bible

In 1998, Saint John's Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. We invite you to explore this work of art that unites an ancient Benedictine tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium.

Explore the Saint John's Bible Website


A1MSF.jpgJust as the Bible set the direction for the first two-thousand years of Christian history, the purpose of The Saint John's Bible has been to shape and guide the Christian message for the third millennium. Rather than nostalgically looking to the past as some golden age, however, this Bible takes a Catholic approach to history, which sees the Christian Tradition as a continuum of salvation involving past, present, and future. Furthermore, because Benedictines define theology as faith in search of understanding, the monks see the natural and human sciences as informing biblical interpretation; the more we know about creation, the more we can know about God's love for all creation. We can see such openness to the world reflected in the calligraphy and artwork of The Saint John's Bible.

Visitors coming to Saint John's Abbey and University can view the rotating exhibits of The Saint John's Bible on permanent display at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. While looking at its splendid folios replete with gold, lapis lazuli, and Chinese ink, guests should keep in mind that what they are viewing is but the initial stage of the whole undertaking. Early on, when the Abbey and University discussed this venture, they decided that it would be a foundation for a whole educational, pastoral, and ecumenical outreach to Christians across the globe.

The primary means of outreach is the Heritage Edition. Standing as a work of art in its own right, the Heritage Edition replicates to the degree possible, the original Saint John's Bible. Donald Jackson oversaw its development at every stage, and no two imprints are exactly the same. Universities and colleges, whether church related or not, have acquired a Heritage Edition for their chapels and libraries. In addition, teachers, ministers, priests, and leaders can inquire at the School of Theology•Seminary and the Liturgical Press for materials to use in their classes, parishes, and congregations.

Conceived to mark the third millennium of Christ's birth, The Saint John's Bible witnesses to the glory of God and thus is fulfilling its mission to proclaim through scholarship and art, the salvation of Christ to the world.