FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saint John’s Announces the Historic Completion of
The Saint John’s Bible,
the First Handwritten Bible to be Commissioned by a
Benedictine Monastery in more than 500 Years
Monumental Cultural and Artistic Endeavor
Celebrates Scripture from a 21st Century Perspective
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Announces Exhibition
Unveiling Final Pages of The Saint John’s Bible
Minneapolis, MN, September 15, 2011 - Saint John’s Abbey and University today announced the historic completion of The Saint John’s Bible, the only handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the advent of the printing press more than 500 years ago. The seventh and final volume, Letters and Revelation, was completed earlier this year and will be on public view for the first time in the exhibition The Saint John’s Bible: Amen!, at the Minneapolis Institite of Arts from September 16 – November 13, 2011.
“Today we celebrate the culmination of a fifteen year commitment to revive a monastic tradition in the modern world and create a work of art that will ignite the spiritual imagination of the world,” said Abbot John Klassen, OSB, Saint John’s Abbey. “We also celebrate the beginning of The Saint John’s Bible’s journey to inspire people from all backgrounds through the many ways they can experience the project, beginning with this exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.”
The Saint John’s Bible: Amen! at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will include eighteen pages from Letters and Revelation including original text and illuminations (illustrations incorporating gold leaf) on view from September 16 – November 13, 2011. “The Saint John’s Bible represents an unparalleled artistic achievement in our lifetime,” said Kaywin Feldman, President and Director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. “It is a major contribution to the book arts, and we are proud to have the opportunity to unveil its final pages.”
In addition to the exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, an exhibition of 44 original pages from The Saint John’s Bible Wisdom Books and Prophets will be on view at the New Mexico History Museum from October 21, 2011 to April 7, 2012. The Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, a fine art reproduction, can also be experienced at more than 40 universities, museums, libraries and churches, including the Vatican Library and Museum in Rome and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Saint John’s continues to plan long-term exhibition and educational programs based on The Saint John’s Bible, and will continue to display folios from The Saint John’s Bible on its campus in Collegeville. In years to come, The Saint John’s Bible will be bound, displayed and used at Saint John’s Abbey.
The Saint John’s Bible is a fifteen year collaboration of scripture scholars and theologians at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota with a team of artists and calligraphers at the scriptorium in Wales, United Kingdom under the direction of Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords. Written and drawn entirely by hand using quills and paints hand-ground from precious minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, silver, and 24-karat gold, The Saint John’s Bible celebrates the tradition of medieval manuscripts while embracing 21st century technology to facilitate the design process and collaboration between Saint John’s in Collegeville and the scriptorium in Wales.
“Now that I have inscribed the final Amen, I realise that over the long years of this task, a boyhood dream, I have gradually absorbed an enduring conviction of the pin-sharp relevance of these ancient Biblical Texts to the past, present and the future of our personal and public life and experience,” said Jackson. “These texts have a life of their own and their life is a mirror of the human spirit and experience.”
The Saint John’s Bible illustrates scripture from a modern perspective, reflecting a multicultural world and humanity’s enormous strides in science, technology and space travel, as well as recent wars and genocide. “Illuminated manuscripts have always marked the time and place in which they were created, and The Saint John’s Bible will reflect our world at the beginning of the twenty-first century for future generations,” said Fr. Robert Koopmann, OSB, President of Saint John’s University. “The illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible provide a new way for people to see and experience scripture, which is a particularly exciting in our increasingly visual culture.”
Letters and Revelation
The final volume, Letters and Revelation, includes 96 pages and contains more than 30 illuminations and special text treatments. Revelation is the only book in The Saint John’s Bible written and illuminated soley by Donald Jackson. Select illuminations in Letters and Revelation include And Every Tongue Should Confess (Philippians 2:5-11), which paints “Lord” in gold in 14 different languages: Armenian, Chinese, Coptic, Greek, English, French, Ge'ez (Ethopian), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Russian and Vietnamese; Letter to the Seven Churches with the Heavenly Choir (Revelation 2:1-5:14), representing crosses from different religious traditions with the words “Holy, Holy, Holy” written in Greek, Ge'ez (Ethopian), Latin and Spanish; and The Four Horesemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6:1-8), depicting contemporary symbols of power, greed and exploitation.
The Saint John’s Bible
In the tradition of great medieval Bibles, The Saint John’s Bible is monumental — two feet tall and three feet wide when opened and nearly 1,150 pages bound in seven distinct volumes. Saint John’s Abbey and University are dedicated to ecumenism, and the text, translation and imagery in The Saint John’s Bible reflect this commitment. Theologians and scholars at Saint John’s University selected the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) as the translation for The Saint John’s Bible. Though each letter is rendered by hand, The Saint John’s Bible uses state-of-the-art computer technology to create and manage page layouts as well as employing contemporary scripts and illumination. For more information, please visit www.saintjohnsbible.org.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses more than 80,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt, Poussin, and van Gogh; modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Stella, and Close; as well as internationally significant collections of prints and drawings, decorative arts, Modernist design, photographs, textiles, and Asian, African, and Native American art. General admission is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee. Museum hours: Sunday, 11 a.m.—5 p.m..;Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.—5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.—9 p.m.; Monday closed. For more information, call (612) 870-3131 or visit www.artsmia.org.