Thursday, February 15, 2007

In Retrospect: The Best of 2006~~ The Saint John's Bible/ The Sistine Chapel of Calligraphy

"Thus speaks the LORD Good of Israel, saying: 'Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.'" Jeremiah 30:2

A four million dollar Bible?

Yes, and worth every penny.

The yet unfinished Saint John's Bible is a masterpiece in process. Written by hand in flowing calligraphy, the work has been entrusted to Senior Scribe to Her Majesty the Queen, Donald Jackson of Wales. In his own words, "The Bible is the calligraphic artist's supreme challenge (our Sistine Chapel), a daunting task." This project exhibits book art at its best.

Commissioned by the Benedictine monks of Saint John's Abbey (Collegeville, Minnesota), the St. John's Bible is being fashioned in the same slow, meticulous way it would have been done in the era before the printing press. The scribe's instrument is a goose quill; hand-mixed ink is laid on smooth vellum. The Bible measures 2 feet by 3 feet and will contain a thousand pages when finished.

The art work is thought provoking; the illuminations are gorgeous with plenty of color and gold-leaf. Yet those features serve only as seasoning. The words of the sacred text remain front and center, the main focal point.

I had opportunity to view this Bible on a high-traffic day at our community's art museum. But in spite of the crowd, people were not hurrying. There was an almost reverential hush as people responded to the invitation of the words to stop, to linger, and to read.

I count myself richer for having had an opportunity to view the Saint John's Bible. Not rich enough, however to purchase a reproduction with a price tag of $115,000!! I do hope, however, that many museums will do so and bring the beauty of this lovingly worked project to greater public attention. It is wonderful to see scripture honored for what it is: the Living Word of God.

Read more about the Saint John's Bible and view pictures here.
More about Donald Jackson at this site.

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help....
Who keeps truth forever." Psalm 146:5-6


Carol in Oregon said...

Can you imagine having a job of calligraphying the Bible? Oh my!
Thanks for introducing me to this.

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks for the memory! There were quite a few pages in the manuscript that I would love to have hanging in my home to illustrate the beauty of the Word that God has given combined with the gifts of creativity that God has also given.

Poiema said...

I checked into single prints, because I, too would love to have one. But most are in the $200 to $400 range. I'll have to stick to the notecards!