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A Year With The Saint John's Bible

Experience The Heritage Edition

Gospels & Acts Volume

A Year With The Saint John’s Bible furthers the mission of The Saint John’s Bible by sharing the Heritage Edition with people around the world, offering a hands-on experience that, in the words of Cambridge manuscript scholar, Dr. Christopher De Hamel, is “as lovely to touch and feel as its medieval ancestors.”

The centerpiece of A Year With The Saint John’s Bible is the arrival of the Gospels & Acts volume of the Heritage Edition. This exquisite volume features some of the most inspiring illuminations including Genealogy of Jesus, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Luke’s Anthology, The Crucifixion, the Gospel of John Frontispiece, and many others.

Your volume will arrive with an archival sleeve, custom carrying case, and tabletop cradle, all delivered in a protective case with handle and wheels.

Workshops to Plan Your Year

Top: Saint John's University Campus, Collegeville, MN
Bottom: The Saint John’s Bible Gallery, Collegeville, MN
Photo provided by Hill Museum & Manuscript Library/Wayne Torborg

Every institution’s participation in A Year With The Saint John’s Bible is unique. Two workshops are led by The Saint John’s Bible experts to help program leaders prepare and make the most out of the arrival of their Heritage Edition. The first workshop is hosted at Saint John’s University (including a visit to The Saint John's Bible gallery, where many of the original folios are displayed) for key program participants, while the second is brought onsite to your organization for a larger group of constituents. Both workshops cover the following:

  • An immersion session on the mission of The Saint John’s Bible and a description of how the original manuscript was created
  • A presentation on the major illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible
  • A review of best practices for sharing and displaying The Saint John’s Bible with your community, including docent training, lesson plan overviews and group discussion
  • Case studies on how institutions like yours have used A Year With The Saint John’s Bible to connect with their communities and key audiences
  • An overview on proper care and use of the Heritage Edition
  • Introductions to key members of The Saint John’s Bible team
  • A review of marketing and media opportunities with The Saint John’s Bible
“Sincerest thanks for the bountiful hospitality shown me during my stay at Saint John's. I savored every single minute of the work-shop. ‘WOW’ is all I can say to all the new information and ideas.”

Karen Eifler
Co-Director, Garaventa Center; Prof, School of Education, University of Portland

Lecturers Share Their Insights

The more that communities learn about The Saint John’s Bible, the more they appreciate why Smithsonian Magazine called it “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our time.” Saint John’s provides each participating institution a guest lecturer with a unique area of focus to help their communities interpret and understand The Saint John’s Bible. We tailor the lectures to the needs of your audience.

Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB

As the director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) in 1995, Fr. Eric had the initial conversation with Donald Jackson that led to the commissioning of the project in 1998. Fr. Eric received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1971. Following seminary studies at Saint John’s University, he received a Ph.D. in medieval studies from Yale University. Among his many activities, Fr. Eric speaks to audiences around the world on The Saint John’s Bible.

Fr. Michael Patella, OSB, SSD

Fr. Patella is professor of New Testament at the School of Theology Seminary of Saint John’s University, Collegeville. As chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text, Fr. Patella led the scholarship behind The Saint John’s Bible. His latest book, Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of The Saint John’s Bible (Liturgical Press, 2013), won the Catholic Press Award for Scripture. He has been a frequent contributor to The Bible Today and is a member of the Catholic Biblical Association.

Tim Ternes

Tim is the Director of The Saint John’s Bible at the HMML. As director, he works with the artistic team for the project, facilitating planning and exhibitions for the original pages and reproductions, as well as curating and caring for the original folios of the Bible. Tim’s lecture, “From Inspiration to Illumination: An Evening with The Saint John’s Bible,” is the perfect introduction for audiences unfamiliar with The Saint John’s Bible.

“Tim Ternes’s lecture was masterful. We keep hearing great feedback from the students. One student said she called her mother afterward and was moved to tears as she described her experience with The Saint John’s Bible.”

Julie Massey
Associate Vice President for Mission & Student Affairs, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

Framed Illuminations

The art of The Saint John’s Bible transcends generations of religious traditions, incorporating ancient and modern themes to create a holistic, universal and uniquely human story built around the Word of God. Included with A Year With The Saint John’s Bible are six illuminated pages – one from each of the six other Heritage Edition volumes.

Creation (Genesis Frontispiece)

Artist: Donald Jackson with contributions from Chris Tomlin

The Creation story unfolds as an account of order from chaos. The structure of this illumination reflects the progression of days, with seven vertical strips, one for each day, and small golden squares arranged in sequences of seven.

On the first day, fragmented shapes explode from the primordial void, expressed by the Hebrew words, tohu wabohu. Day three contains satellite pictures of the Ganges River Delta, suggesting the division of land and water and the beginnings of vegetation. The creation of human beings on the sixth day is represented by images from aboriginal rock paintings in Africa and Australia. The golden seventh day is given over entirely to the contemplation of the spirit.

Joshua Anthology

Artist: Donald Jackson; Scribe: Susan Leiper; Hebrew Scribe: Izzy Pludwinsk

The Book of Joshua chronicles the battles, deaths and mayhem of the Israelites’ journey that began in Egypt. The Joshua Anthology, the first major illumination in Historical Books from The Saint John’s Bible, focuses on the crossing of the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.

Death, violence and conflagration are present in the flames and the headless bodies floating down the river; the price of slaughter is paid by both sides of a conflict. Slender batons of gold, active and present throughout the illumination, carry out the theme of God’s constant presence reminding all to “Put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14)

Praise of Wisdom

Artist: Suzanne Moore; Scribe: Sally Mae Joseph

The key motif in this illumination is fertility. It is everywhere: in the fruits and in the wheat, in the female figure at the top right based on an ancient totem of fertility. All things lead to and proceed from her, another evocation of wisdom.

The fertility figure at the top of the page is also a cruciform, reminding us of the cross. The image on the lower left appears to be a perfume bottle with an open mouth, from which rises a moon-like bubble. This image corresponds to verse 15: “Like cassia and camel's thorn, I gave forth perfume, / and like choice myrrh, I spread my fragrance.”

Psalm 1

Artist: Donald Jackson

The Psalms illuminations consist of abstract, non-illustrative designs. Superimposed on this image are digital voice prints of sung chants, hinting at the way we might “see” psalms if they are sung or read poetically. The voice prints come from recordings of the monks at Saint John’s Abbey singing Gregorian chant; a Native American sacred song; a Jewish men’s chorus singing psalms; Buddhist tantric harmonics; an Islamic call to prayer (adhan); Taoist temple music; Hindu bhajan; and Indian Sufi chant.

Messianic Predictions

Artist: Thomas Ingmire

In this illumination, the many titles of the Messiah, including King of Kings, Prince of Peace, and Immanuel, meaning “God is with us” appear as soaring words of jubilation in gleaming gold and jewel-like colors.

The passage in Isaiah is familiar to many people from Handel's great work, The Messiah. Sung often at Christmas, it is crowned by the great Hallelujah chorus. This illumination is likewise crowned with Hallelujahs. You can almost see the trumpets raised and blasting with the announcement.

Letter to the Seven Churches

Artist: Donald Jackson

Donald Jackson said he “turned the volume up full blast” on the book of Revelation, using rich and intense images and colors throughout.

In this illumination, the seven churches are vividly painted and adorned with crosses that suggest a variety of cultural traditions. Seven lampstands along the bottom provide light in the darkness. The golden calf is present, representing the casting out of idol worship as well as the threat of a return to idolatry. The slain lamb stands atop the scroll with its seven seals. The lamb is the source of hope for the churches, called forth as the only one worthy to open the scroll and begin the cosmic battle.

Digital Images

Saint John’s University grants participating institutions a one-year image use license for digital files of all 160 major illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible. These images can be used through physical and digital channels for promotions, media, educational activities and more. Institutions that acquire the Heritage Edition receive ongoing permission to use the digital images.

Reference Library

A Year With The Saint John’s Bible includes copies of essential literature on the Bible’s art and spirituality:

  • Illuminating the Word by Christopher Calderhead
  • The Art of The Saint John’s Bible by Susan Sink
  • Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of The Saint John’s Bible by Fr. Michael Patella, OSB
  • Illuminating Justice: The Ethical Imagination of The Saint John’s Bible by Jonathan Homrighausen
  • The Illuminator and a Bible for the 21st Century, a BBC original documentary

Additionally, all A Year With The Saint John’s Bible participating organizations receive 25% off The Saint John’s Bible products during their program year, including prints, books, notecards and more.

Program Fee

The fee for A Year With The Saint John’s Bible is $15,000, which can be applied to the cost of permanent acquisition.

Permanently Acquiring the Heritage Edition

The potential for outreach and connection through The Saint John’s Bible doesn’t have to end after 365 days. During their Year with The Saint John’s Bible, many institutions engage in an acquisition campaign to fund the permanent purchase of the seven-volume Heritage Edition. Saint John’s University will provide the support you need in your fundraising efforts. At any point during or after your Year with The Saint John’s Bible, you may decide to purchase your copy of the Heritage Edition, at which point your program fee is applied toward the acquisition.

Limited to 299 sets, each Heritage Edition includes the following seven volumes:

  • Volume 1: Pentateuch
  • Volume 2: Historical Books
  • Volume 3: Wisdom Books
  • Volume 4: Psalms
  • Volume 5: Prophets
  • Volume 6: Gospels & Acts
  • Volume 7: Letters & Revelation
“What I think is so remarkable about this project is that it…can be appreciated by all – regardless of income status, faith tradition, or ethnicity.” Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President & CEO, Catholic Health Association

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