The Saint John’s Bible

Last week I traveled to St. Luke’s parish in Darien to look at a Bible. This is not just any ordinary Bible, oh no. This Bible is modern, ancient, colorful, powerful, timely, and classic all in one.

The folks at St. Luke’s are spending a year with The Saint John’s Bible.  A project initiated by Pam Anderson, the wife of St. Luke’s former rector, David Anderson.  

I had the pleasure of walking through The Saint John’s Bible with two of their docents, Kim Westcott and Deidre Hogan. St. Luke’s first acquired their copy in December. The community has seven docents and 29 parish volunteers who are trained and available to assist parishioners, visitors, community members, and really anyone who is interested, with the Bible.

The Saint John’s Bible was an idea birthed by world renowned calligrapher and artist Donald Jackson and the monks at Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN in 1995. The idea was to create a hand-written illuminated Bible, the first in 500 years – since the printing press.  The Bible is written in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and took six artists and six calligraphers eleven years to complete (2000 – 2011). The illuminations offer a mixture of modern and medieval art, often through a collaborate effort between multiple artists.

You can click on the image to view them as a slideshow. There are captions to each photo that will not appear in the slideshow, however. I would suggest you look first throughout the whole post, then go back and take some time with each photo as its own entity.

Okay enough text, on to the images . . .

The Saint John’s Bible is complete in seven volumes. The sixth volume, Gospels & Acts, was the first to be completed and is the volume at St. Luke’s.

  • Volume 1: Pentateuch
  • Volume 2: Historical Books
  • Volume 3: Wisdom Books
  • Volume 4: Psalms
  • Volume 5: Prophets
  • Volume 6: Gospels & Acts
  • Volume 7: Letters & Revelation

The illuminations throughout the text are extraordinary. From the Genealogy of Jesus in the shape of a menorah at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, to the first ever depiction of the Earth seen from space as the “ends of the Earth” in Acts, the six artists were very attentive to both detail and delicacy.

Moving through The Saint John’s Bible is a spiritual, visual, and textual experience. The holiness of the stories, the colors and imagery, and the details of the script draw you in and makes you want to sit, read, and inwardly digest the story of our Lord all over again.

St. Luke’s will host several events throughout 2019 around The Saint John’s Bible, including welcoming Suzanne Moore, one of the artists at their adult education hour on May 5 at 9:00 a.m. and at the local arts community at 2:00 p.m. Also, St. Luke’s will welcome Michael Patella, the chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text for the project, on September 19.

For more information about The Saint John’s Bible at Saint Luke’s, including how visiting the Bible with a docent contact Saint Luke’s Parish at 203-655-1456. 

For more information about the creation of The Saint John’s Bible go to the Saint John’s website:

Editor’s note: The pictures above do not do this Bible justice; you have to see it for yourself. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Lazgin says:

    Thank you for this story of the unique. St. John’s Bible, the first story of many to come! I’ve re-posted it on the Facebook Page for St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford. We’re neighbors of St. Luke’s, so this story will be of special interest.

  2. Keri Aubert says:

    In case you don’t know, Yale Divinity School owns a complete set of the volumes that make up this amazing facsimile edition of the St. John’s Bible. Anyone can request to see it. I highly recommend turning to Genesis 1. It may take your breath away, and then bring you to tears.

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