Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Archives and Special Collections

The Saint John's Bible at SJU

The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition is a fine art reproduction of the original hand-crafted version. SJU has all seven volumes: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, Psalms, Wisdom Books, Prophets, the Gospels & Acts and Letters & Revelation.  The University's set is number 60 of 299 produced.

The Saint John's Bible is the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey in the more than 500 years since the invention of the printing press. It was envisioned by Saint John's Abbey in Minnesota as a bible for the 21st Century. Donald Jackson, a world-renowned calligrapher, and scribe to the British Crown, was selected in 1998 to complete the project with a team of artisans working from their scriptorium in Wales. They were advised on the Bible's content by a group of scholars and theologians, known as the Committee on Illumination and Text. Work was finished in the summer of 2011.

The Saint John's Bible was created using both ancient and modern book-making techniques. Planning the layout for the seven volumes was accomplished with the assistance of a computer. The script and illuminations were produced on specially treated calfskin vellum. Calligraphers used goose quill pens, natural inks and hand-ground pigments for writing the text. Fine gold leaf and platinum were applied to the pages using special tools.

On April 24, 2014, a blessing and presentation of the Saint John's Bible to the University was celebrated by C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., '72, then President of Saint Joseph's University and Brendan Lally, S.J., Rector of the SJU Jesuit Community. During the ceremony, two volumes of the Bible were placed on permanent display in cases specially designed and built by craftsman Eugene Sell, Class of '97.

Both display cases are now housed in the Drexel Library, first floor, at the base of the stairway.  Volumes of the Saint John's Bible will be rotated on a regular basis to highlight illuminations and text.  

The acquisition of the Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition is a joint endeavor between the Office of Mission and Identity and the Post Learning Commons and Drexel Library.

The Saint John's Bible (videos)

Posts about Saint John's Bible

Books about Illuminated Manuscripts