“We tend to read greedily and hastily, as we do so many other things; this beautiful text shows us a better way.” The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury
The mission of The Saint John’s Bible is to ignite the spiritual imagination of people from all faith journeys with a work of historical and artistic importance. To that end, Saint John’s University created the Heritage Edition, a series of 299 fine art editions of The Saint John’s Bible, to spark the imagination of individuals, institutions and communities around the world. Under the direction of The Saint John’s Bible Artistic Director Donald Jackson, the seven volumes of the Heritage Edition are true to the scale, beauty and artistic intent of original manuscript – all while allowing for an intimate, hands-on experience.
The Heritage Edition has found a home with families and institutions around the world. At churches, museums, healthcare organizations, and public and private universities, The Saint John’s Bible connects communities and offers the opportunity to view the Bible with fresh eyes.
Exactly how the Heritage Edition is used varies from place to place – but what remains constant is the awe this work inspires among those who see it.
A Year with The Saint John's Bible furthers the mission of The Saint John's Bible project: to share an unprecedented work of spiritual art with people around the world, giving them a hands-on experience that would be impossible any other way.
The A Year with The Saint John's Bible program gives your community a unique opportunity to see, feel and learn about The Saint John's Bible while creating intimate, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that bring us together as people, regardless of faith traditions.
A Year with The Saint John’s Bible provides organizations a way to experience the Bible for a full year. The program includes the following:
The year begins when Gospels & Acts, the sixth volume of Heritage Edition, is delivered to you in a custom-fit case for travel. 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.
As part of A Year with The Saint John’s Bible, participants are provided two in-depth workshop sessions (one at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN, and one at your location) that will help you create a programming plan that works for your community and organization.
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.
The Saint John’s Bible has been the subject of academic, analytical and critical thought for years. To help you navigate its nuanced story and understand its place in history, Saint John’s University invites one expert to provide a lecture tailored to your community’s interest in the Heritage Edition.
A Year with The Saint John’s Bible includes copies of essential literature on the Bible’s art and spirituality:
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.”
Co-Director, Garaventa Center; Prof, School of Education, University of Portland
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.
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. 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 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.”
Associate Vice President for Mission & Student Affairs, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI
The fee for A Year with The Saint John’s Bible is $15,000, which can be applied to the cost of permanent acquisition.
Higher education is the vibrant intersection of academics, fine arts and spirituality. It is no surprise that many leading colleges and universities around the world have welcomed the Heritage Edition to their campuses.
Institutions are finding ways to apply The Saint John’s Bible across many departments. As Elizabeth Beaulieu, Dean of Champlain College, wrote, “The Saint John’s Bible exemplifies the best of innovative interdisciplinary work; historians, artists and theologians labored to illuminate sacred scripture with beautiful design while putting a contemporary spin on a timeless narrative.”
Public and private institutions have embraced The Saint John’s Bible because it encourages conversation on the harmony between faith and reason. From the Hubble-inspired images of deep space in Genesis to the DNA strands in the Gospel of Matthew frontispiece, many of the illuminations celebrate math, science and discovery at both microscopic and telescopic levels.
*Owner of the Prophets Edition
**Year with The Saint John's Bible participant
Healthcare professionals have long recognized the powerful role art, in all its forms, plays in health and healing. Adding the beauty of this handmade, hand-illuminated Bible to a place of healing makes a profound statement about your institution’s commitment to the spiritual needs of patients and their family and friends.
The Saint John’s Bible was created for people of all faith journeys. As you page through the Heritage Edition, you will discover artistic traditions from around the world, including icons, arabesques, mandalas, contemporary art and digital voice prints of song and chant from a variety of cultures.
Major healthcare systems, including Trinity Health and Mayo Clinic, have made The Saint John’s Bible an integral part of how they care for the spiritual needs of patients.
A wide range of faith traditions have embraced A Year with The Saint John’s Bible in worship, prayer life and community outreach.
What makes A Year with The Saint John’s Bible so vibrant in church life is the Heritage Edition. These beautiful volumes were designed to explore this sacred text and experience illuminations as Donald Jackson defines the word: “the play of light as you turn the page.”
A Year with The Saint John’s Bible includes the resources you need to energize your community with the Heritage Edition, including workshops, guest speakers, press kits, social media support, and permission to use images of all 160 major illuminations for marketing and promotional materials.
“It’s a great opportunity not only to hear God’s Word, but to see that living Word of God present and active among us.”
The Very Reverend Wayne Lobsinger, EV
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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:
“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