The Saint John's Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the advent of moveable type in the 15th century. The project, 10 years in the making, was directed by renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson, senior scribe in Queen Elizabeth II's Crown Office. Jackson designed a custom script for the work and assembled a team of artists and scribes from around the world that used ancient techniques and materials—goose quills, hand-ground pigments, egg yolks, and 24-karat gold leaf. Smithsonian Magazine called it "One of the extraordinary undertakings of our time" and, on being presented with a copy in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI exclaimed "This is a work for eternity."
The Saint John's Bible includes 160 illuminations, reflecting a contemporary approach to biblical interpretation and incorporating imagery from both Eastern and Western religious traditions. The New Revised Standard Version translation was selected for the text and Dr. Susan Wood, C.S.A., Chair of Marquette's Department of Theology, served on the historic project's advisory committee.
The volumes are permanently displayed in the Prucha Archives Reading Room on the third floor of the John P. Raynor, S.J., Library. A different illumination will be presented each day. For additional information on viewing the Heritage Edition, please call (414) 288-7256.
This guide offers introductory materials on the Saint John's Bible, emphasizing visual sources about its production. Please note that some hotlinked citations (articles in licensed databases) are limited to the Marquette community; more about logging in here.
Photo by: Randy OHC
Saint John's Bible artist Donald Jackson.
Donald Jackson reviews pages in the Saint John's Bible.
Calligrapher Diane Von Arx
Pope Benedict XVI reviews copy 1 of the Heritage Edition
Illumination from Exodus 19