Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The St. John's Bible


Today, for confirmation, we had a special presentation. We had a man come from St. John's College and Benedictine Abbey to tell us about the St. John's Bible project. So we had all of our 7th through 9th graders and invited adults from the congregation as well.


I don't know how many of you have heard of the St. John's Bible. It is the first handwritten Bible commissioned since the 1500's. It set to be completed in 2009, and is housed at the Benedictine Abbey in the middle of the prairie lands of Minnesota.


The primary artist for the St. John's Bible is Donald Jackson. He is the chief calligrapher for Queen Elizabeth. When he was 12 or 13 years old, he set as one of his life goals to make a handwritten Bible. Now he is in in his 50s and the end of his goal is in sight. Our presenter said that in England, he is as famous as a rock star! Imagine!


Everyone sat in rapt attention to hear the story of the paper, the quill, the inks, and all of the things that were chosen especially so that this Bible would last 1500 years. We saw some of the artwork and talked about the possible meanings of the images. For example, in one of the pages, where some of the parables of Luke are pictured, there is also an image of the Twin Towers. The artist wanted to send a visual message that we will never overcome evil with hate and violence, but through the love and forgiveness which Jesus lived and died.


The first image he showed us was that of creation. He had us look in silence for 2 minutes, and then turn to the person next to us and tell them what we saw. As we discussed the creation, we saw images both ancient and modern, the seven days of creation, and the "big bang", and a thin ribbon of gold in each day, to represent the presence of God.


At the end of the presentation, the presenter invited people to stay and look at a replica of the Gospels and Acts. For twenty minutes after the end of the program, youth and adults looked at page after page of images and calligraphy.


The book, when completed, will be divided into seven books. One book, all put together, would weigh over 400 pounds. It will be two feet tall and three feet thick.

13 comments:

Katherine E. said...

Some friends of mine have a copy of one of the gospels, I think. Oh! it's breathtaking--even the copy!

Jan said...

How wonderful to have such a presentation for the confirmation class (and you)! My husband gave me The St. John's Bible "Gospel and Acts" for Christmas and it is so beautiful! Somehow that makes me feel connected to what you wrote today.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Diane I had heard of this work of art and visited the website, but it was good to have another look. What a blessing to hear someone from the Abbey talk about it.

FranIAm said...

I had heard of this but not seen anything. Wow, that is amazing. I have goosebumps.

And for the confirmation class... nice.

leah sophia said...

when i visited our local DSS exhibit last month they also displayed several illuminations from the St. John's Bible--breathtaking! In my post I've linked to the small, modest book about the SJB I couldn't resist buying. And how wonderful for your confirmation class to connect with the larger church and (maybe) a greater vision.

Diane said...

I have to say that the thing that impressed me the most was how the students PAID ATTENTION. The girls in back of me kept saying "cool!"

Rowan The Dog said...

Of the pieces I've seen my favorite is the genealogy of Jesus. So detailed. Glad you got to experience this first hand.
Lindy

P.S. an after-thought said...

It is wonderful to hear how the students were respectful.

My daughter's high school choir had a trip to your big city a few years ago. One stop was the MIA where some of the St. John's Bible pages were on display.

Thank God the RCs take a long range view of things!

more cows than people said...

what a fabulous opportunity for you and for those kids- i think kids can sense that (sometimes).

zorra said...

It is so gorgeous. How wonderful for the kids (and adults!) to get to see this.

Kievas said...

I remember seeing a video about it a while ago, but had forgotten. Your class was part of an amazing experience.

Marsha said...

I was not aware of this project but see that an exhibit will be in Mobile late next year. Our church made a trip there to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit and perhaps we could schedule a trip to see this exhibit as well. Again, I have been educated at your site!

ann.markle said...

I had heard of this project, and have seen one or two of the illuminations. I did not know any had been published yet, though! I think the illuminations look like something that I could meditate on during my prayer time. Thanks for posting about this.