In 1998 Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson, senior scribe in Queen Elizabeth II's Crown Office, to produce the first handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible since the advent of moveable type in the 15th century. Jackson designed a custom script for the work and assembled a team of artists and scribes from around the world that used ancient techniques and materials — goose quills, hand-ground pigments, egg yolks, and 24-karat gold leaf. Smithsonian Magazine called it "one of the extraordinary undertakings of our time" and, on being presented with a copy in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI exclaimed, "This is a work for eternity."
The Saint John's Bible includes 160 illuminations, reflecting a contemporary approach to biblical interpretation and incorporating imagery from both Eastern and Western religious traditions. The New Revised Standard Version translation was selected for the text and Dr. Susan Wood, C.S.A., professor of theology at Marquette, served on the historic project's advisory committee.
The volumes are permanently displayed in the Prucha Archives Reading Room on the third floor of the John P. Raynor, S.J., Library. Hours of service are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Evening and weekend hours may be arranged by appointment.
Visit the Raynor Memorial Libraries' website to see more images of The Saint John's Bible. For additional information on viewing The Saint John’s Bible, please call Special Collections and University Archives at (414) 288-7256.