The Saint John's Bible
Regent College received The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition in September 2021 thanks to the gift of a very generous donor. The Heritage Edition is a fine art reproduction of The Saint John's Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible in the modern era. View the following sections to learn about the history and creation of the original manuscript as well as how the Heritage Edition has become an important part of Regent College.
The seven volumes of the Heritage Edition are located in the Allison Library Rare Books Room, with one volume always on display in the library foyer. Though it is a rare and valuable work of art, The Heritage Edition is also meant to be read and studied. All Regent students and visting scholars can view The Bible up close and personal by making an appointment.
The Saint John’s Bible is a work of art and a work of theology. This contemporary Bible was created by a group of 23 scribes, artists and assistants in a Scriptorium in Wales under the artistic direction of Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords. The team worked in conjunction with a committee of theologians, scholars and artists from Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota. This collaboration brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination with an ecumenical Christian approach to the Bible rooted in Benedictine spirituality. The result is a living document and a monumental achievement. All 73 books from the Old and New Testaments (including Apocrypha) using the New Revised Standard Version are presented in seven volumes of approximately 1,150 pages. After fifteen years of work, the pages were completed in 2011 and given a permanent home in The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), located on Saint John’s University campus, Minneapolis.
The Saint John’s Bible incorporates many of the characteristics of its medieval predecessors: it was written on vellum using quills pens fashioned from feathers, natural handmade inks, hand ground pigments and gild such as gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum. Yet, it employs a modern, English translation as well as contemporary scripts and illuminations.
The goal of The Saint John’s Bible is to ignite the spiritual imagination of all peoples throughout the world by commissioning a work of art that illuminates the Word of God for a new millennium in a way that is relevant to the 21st century. It is a prophetic witness to the Word of God in our day and beyond, an opportunity for learning and scholarship and a dignified expression of the Benedictine vision: "That in all things God may be glorified.”
In 1997 Donald Jackson proposed the idea for a hand-written, hand-illuminated copy of the Bible to the President of Saint John’s University. The project began in 1998 and in March 2000 the first words of The Saint John's Bible (from the gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word…”) were written by Jackson. Each of the 1,165 pages of The Saint John's Bible required 7-13 hours to complete. Work on the Heritage Edition began in 2007 and in May 2011 the final volume of The Saint John's Bible was complete.
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was selected by theologians and scholars at Saint John’s University as the translation for The Saint John’s Bible because its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version, had gained the distinction of being officially authorized for use by most major Christian Churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.
The Saint John’s Bible has over 160 illuminations, many in gold leaf, and numerous special text treatments filling its 1,100+ pages.
Visit The Saint John’s Bible website to read more about how The Saint John's Bible was created.
“The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition exquisitely blends Regent’s commitment to the power and authority of Scripture with the College’s deep appreciation for the arts” ~ Regent College President Jeff Greenman
Regent College is very grateful for the generosity of alumna and former board member Julie Hindmarsh, who gifted The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition to the College on the occasion of Regent’s 50th anniversary in honour of Dr. James M. Houston, the founder of Regent College. Expressing her gratitude to Dr. Houston, Julie noted that The Saint John’s Bible is a fitting tribute to his mentorship: “Through friendship, Jim illuminated the Scriptures to countless students.” “It was the beauty of the illuminations that first drew me to The Saint John’s Bible,” says Julie. “They artfully tie the promise of the Messiah in the Old Testament to the fulfillment in The New Testament. Jackson felt a call to calligraph the entire bible early in life. He included a fleck of gold on each page to signify God’s presence. The Saint John’s Bible is a rich source for visio divina as well as lectio divina. Keats says that ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’ and it is my hope that The Saint John’s Bible will bring ‘joy forever’ to Regent College.”
The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition is housed in the Allison Library Rare Books Room. A volume is also on display in a custom case in the library foyer; a new page is turned each day.
About The Heritage Edition
Regent is fortunate to receive the gift of a Heritage Edition—one of only 299 hand-finished, limited edition sets in existence; each is numbered and initialed by the creative director, Donald Jackson. Jackson also directed the making of the Heritage Edition throughout the entire process to assure its fidelity to the original and he approved every page before final printing. Correspondence to the original is so important that even the “show-through” caused by transparency in the vellum is captured on the pages of the Heritage Edition. The paper of the Heritage Edition is designed specifically for this project and the weight and feel of the cotton pages approximate that of the vellum used in the original manuscript. After printing, gold and silver foils are applied using a series of stamping and embossing processes. In places where results cannot be achieved through mechanical means, Jackson’s studio manager, Sarah Harris, has hand treated the illuminations. Therefore, no two Heritage Edition sets are identical.
For more information about the Heritage Edition, click here
The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition is often a part of Regent College Chapel and the Library hosts viewing sessions, "Open Pages With The Saint John's Bible," periodically in the Atrium.
The Word Come To Life: An Exhibition of The St. John's Bible at the Dal Schindell Gallery
The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition was featured in an exhibition in the Dal Schindell Gallery: THE WORD COME TO LIFE: An Exhibition of The Saint John's Bible, October 5 - 26, 2022. This gallery showcase featured illuminated prints from the Bible and all 7 volumes of the Heritage Edition were on display.
The Heritage Edition in the Allison Library is a full-size fine art edition of The Saint John's Bible. Bound in Italian leather, the Heritage Edition features the exquisite calligraphy, vibrant imagery and stunning gold and silver illuminations inspired by the original.
A volume of The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition is always on display in the Library foyer; however, Regent students and visting scholars have the opportunity to view this limited-edition work of art up close by booking a viewing session in the Library Reading Room. Prior to booking it may be helpful to view a summary of each volume or view each volume digitally.
The Saint John's Bible Website
Explore each volume of The Saint John’s Bible digitally and learn about the history, vision, guiding principles, and techniques that make The Saint John's Bible an epic work of art.
The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition
Learn about the creation and craftsmanship of the limited fine art edition of The Saint John's Bible.
The Heritage Edition Blog
The blog features stories, news, updates, events and testimonials about the Heritage Edition and its ongoing journey into hearts and minds across the globe.
Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), home of The Saint John’s Bible, is dedicated to the preservation of and access to art, rare books and manuscripts focused on how humans imagine the sacred. HMML is located on Saint John’s University campus, Minneapolis.
The Saint John’s Bible Products
Fine art prints, a documentary, and books about The Saint John's Bible are available for purchase through Liturgical Press. Note cards and full-color reproduction books are available to purchase through the Regent College Bookstore.