June 15, 2020
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A monumental version of the Bible — a reproduction of more than 1,100 pages of hand-written and hand-illuminated work — is on display at Kenyon and will be discussed in an illustrated presentation on Monday, Oct. 13., at 7 p.m. in the Kenyon Athletic Center auditorium.
The Saint John’s Bible — the first of its kind commissioned by a Benedictine abbey in more than 500 years — is arranged in seven volumes, each 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Tim Ternes, the director of the Saint John’s Bible project at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., will discuss “From Inspiration to Illumination — An Introduction to the Saint John’s Bible” in his presentation Oct. 13. He also will conduct an informal discussion Oct. 14 at 11:10 a.m. in the Olin Auditorium.
“The creators sought to produce a genuinely 21st-century Bible that would be read and used by those interested in religion, liturgy, art history, the arts and book crafts, and also science and environmental studies,” said Royal Rhodes, the Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies. “The desire is to bridge the false opposition between scientific and religious thought, as well as serving as a marker for those 500 years in the future to reveal the state of knowledge at this point in time.”
Saint John’s Abbey, affiliated with Saint John’s University, commissioned the work and produced it in collaboration with Donald Jackson, the official scribe and calligrapher of the Crown Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The project began in 1998 and constitutes one of Jackson’s lifelong goals: to produce a Bible using methods of hand-illumination and traditional materials, including calfskin vellum, ink from Chinese ink blocks, and gold and silver leaf. The illuminations and words were completed with goose- and swan-feather quill pens at a scriptorium in Monmouth, Wales.
The Heritage Edition on display at Kenyon employs illustration, color and intricate design. Those who view and read the Heritage Edition can experience the inspiration behind the project, according to Eric Hollas, deputy to the president for advancement at Saint John's University. Although each letter is rendered by hand, computer technology was used to create and manage page layouts with a modern English translation. The text, translation and imagery in the Saint John's Bible reflect a commitment to religious ecumenism.
"The Heritage Edition provides an accessible link to the original artwork for those who wish to bring its beauty, spiritual and historic significance into their lives and the lives of others," Hollas said. "It is a work of art in its own right."
The seven volumes of the Heritage Edition are on exhibit at the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives Room of Olin Library until Nov. 7. Two of the volumes, the Pentateuch and the Gospels, will be displayed there until March 2015. To learn more about the events and the exhibition, call 740-427-5996.