Word and Image: The Saint John’s Bible

Exhibition organized by Joslyn Art Museum and Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

A contemporary masterpiece of medieval craftsmanship, The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. Featuring 76 original pages from this unique Bible and a selection of rare books and texts from other religious traditions, Word and Image: The Saint John's Bible explores the relationship between faith, art, and the written word.

The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a community which has always fostered an appreciation for the living arts that is anchored in the past yet welcomes innovation. In that spirit, Saint John’s engaged celebrated calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a contemporary Bible that is at once old and new: a masterpiece of the ancient crafts of calligraphy and illumination that could only be made by artists of today. Handwritten on calfskin vellum, using hand-cut quills, ancient inks, natural pigments and 24-karat gold, silver, and platinum, but following a layout devised on a computer, this enormous undertaking combined centuries-old methods with new technologies. The Bible employs a modern English translation (the New Revised Standard Version), and its illuminations feature global contemporary imagery to inspire new readings of this sacred text. The incorporation of motifs from several religious traditions, including Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, as well as Native American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cultures, imbues The Saint John’s Bible with a multicultural resonance for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

In the Middle Ages, monumental Bibles were made for daily use in monastic communities and carefully preserved for future generations. The Saint John’s Bible continues that tradition. In 2006, Joslyn hosted Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible, an exhibition that included unbound folios from three volumes of the Bible. Production of The Saint John’s Bible was completed in 2011, and now, Joslyn is pleased to share unbound folios from all seven volumes that make up the Old and New Testaments. Return visitors who first encountered this magnificent Bible as a project still in the process of creation, will now experience it as a cultural artifact.

What's pictured: (above right) Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA

Hours, Tickets, & Tours

Word and Image: The Saint John's Bible is open during all regular Museum hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm; late 'til 8 pm on Thursday. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Word and Image: The Saint John's Bible is a ticketed exhibition:
General public adults: $10
(Thursday evening pricing, 4-8 pm: $5 for general public adults)
$5 for college students with a valid ID (tickets for those with a UNMC student ID are free)
Youth ages 17 and younger: Free
Joslyn Members: Free (Not a member? Click here to join now!

All visitors, including members, must obtain a ticket for entrance to the exhibition (no reservations necessary).

Programs with visits to the exhibition will be priced accordingly for general public adults. Docent-guided tours of the exhibition are offered on select days. Check the calendar of events for exact tour dates. Word and Image: The Saint's John Bible ticket pricing applies.

What's pictured: (above right) Valley of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 36:15-37:25), Donald Jackson (artist) and Susie Leiper (scribe), © 2005, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved; (below right) Genealogy of Christ, Donald Jackson, © 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA.

Exhibition-Related Events & Programs

Friday, October 4 @ 6 pm

Monday, October 7; noon–3 pm

Encountering The Saint John's Bible

Saturday & Sunday, November 2 & 3
Free College Weekend

Saturday, November 2; 11 am–3 pm

Friday, November 15; 6–9 pm

Thursday, December 5 @ 6:30 pm (cash bar opens @ 5 pm)

Thursdays, December 12 & January 9 @ 6:30 pm
Curator Talks

Tuesday, January 14 @ 5 pm

Many regularly scheduled programs will feature Word and Image: The Saint John's Bible-inspired themes. Check these listings for details:
  • Explore calligraphy, painting with gold elements, drawing, and bookbinding, all inspired by Word & Image: The Saint John's Bible. Available for Ages 5-7, Ages 8-12, and Teens & Adults.