The Vision and Values
In the Middle Ages, monasteries helped preserve knowledge and culture for the sake of the greater community. By commissioning a handwritten Bible, Saint John’s revived a tradition and affirmed its commitment to the study of scripture, to the book arts and to educational, artistic and spiritual pursuits.
The Saint John’s Bible, consistent with the educational mission, values and vision of Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota is a spiritual, educational and artistic endeavor and a significant contribution to the new millennium. The Saint John’s Bible is guided by the following vision and values:
Ignite Imagination — With the same dynamic relationship that existed between medieval Benedictine houses and the scribes whose talents they engaged, Saint John's Abbey and University and calligrapher Donald Jackson, in collaboration with many from the wider community, produced a Bible, a work of art, which serves to ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world.
Glorify God's Word — A Biblical illumination takes the Word of God and glorifies it by transforming the Word into a complementary art form employing illustration, color and design.The Saint John’s Bible is meant to be a prophetic witness to the glory of the Word of God and to humankind's God-given dignity.
Revive Tradition — In the Middle Ages, monasteries were leaven in both church and society. They were centers of culture and learning which kept the tradition of scriptural reading alive for the whole world. They helped preserve knowledge and culture for the sake of the larger human family. In commissioning a handwritten, illuminated Bible, Saint John's revived a tradition that had been nearly absent from the Christian world since the European development of the printing press in the fifteenth century. The Saint John’s Bible affirms this community's commitment to the study of Scripture, to the book arts and to educational, artistic, spiritual and scholarly pursuits.
Discover History — Scholars have speculated about the processes and challenges involved in creating a great manuscript. The Saint John’s Bible allows art and cultural historians the opportunity to experiment in historical discovery, to explore a process that was once a core activity of human civilization.
Foster the Arts — The Saint John’s Bible with its spiritual themes and art reflects the cultural context both of Saint John’s and of contemporary society.
Give Voice — The Saint John’s Bible seeks to give voice and expression to those who are now unprivileged. By involving many people, The Saint John’s Bible is linked to other commentaries, other images, other interpretations and understandings. Inviting various groups to contribute toThe Saint John’s Bible extended the arms of churches to the marginalized in the true spirit of Christianity.
Beginning in 1970, Donald Jackson expressed in media interviews his lifetime dream of creating an illuminated Bible. Following a Saint John's sponsored calligraphy presentation at the Newberry Library in Chicago in 1995, Jackson discussed a handwritten Bible with Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, former executive director of the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library at Saint John's University. Between 1996 and 1997, Saint John's explored the feasibility of the Bible project, Jackson created first samples, and theologians developed the illumination schema. The Saint John’s Bible was officially commissioned in 1998 and funding opportunities were launched. The public was introduced to the project in 1999.