The Saint John’s Bible
September 16, 2011 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Saint John’s Abbey and University today announced the historic completion of The Saint John’s Bible, the only handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the advent of the printing press more than 500 years ago.
You can explore this beauty online. NPR ran a story on the The Saint John’s Bible back in 1995. A short documentary about the Bible. The Library of Congress's online exhibition.
posted by Foci for Analysis (23 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my god, that is absolutely gorgeous. Can one buy copies?
posted by empath at 9:49 PM on September 16, 2011

not $700 gorgeous, though.
posted by empath at 9:53 PM on September 16, 2011

I was being skeptical, but it is beautiful.
posted by sbutler at 9:53 PM on September 16, 2011

I'll agree. Gorgeous. I hope my die-hard-Catholic (but art-appreciating) MIL doesn't get too much exposure to this between now and X-mas. This seems like an opportunity for this die-hard-atheist SIL (who also appreciates works of art) to connect a little better with her.
posted by The Potate at 10:08 PM on September 16, 2011

I am instantly reminded of my fourth-grade social studies textbook.
posted by telstar at 10:27 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

You just found me the perfect anniversary gift, you beautiful bastard.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:33 PM on September 16, 2011

The amount of work that went into this thing is truly impressive, but the pages they show are hideous. The title fonts look like they were lifted from 90's web sites with beveled edges on wood paneling. I'm sorry, but it looks more like a Hallmark commission than something from Benedictine monks.
posted by steve jobless at 11:01 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Heartbreaking. Are there no aesthetic standards among even monks today?
posted by Scram at 11:52 PM on September 16, 2011

Yeah, I actually prefer this one.
posted by homunculus at 12:13 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps we expected medieval art. The video explains that this is a 21st century work done with medieval technology. Quill and egg paint instead of laser printer.
posted by Cranberry at 1:03 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I find it beautiful. I can only hope it's released in a less pricey format in the future.
posted by calamari kid at 1:26 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

What horribly intrusive watermarks. But I suppose religion has to make a profit, and they couldn't afford to have people reading their Bible for free.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:34 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

They had a few pages at Regis, and as much as I appreiciated the effort, i found the work cloying and sort of exhausting. It might be that the combined aesthetics are a little too contemporary, which makes the work seem dated at this point; or the colours are a little too muted, or the whole thing is on this edge of polite....Barry Moser's black and white etchings of the bible manage to be v. contemporary and v. ancient, in ways that the St John's bible doesnt quite manage: you can see some excerpts here
posted by PinkMoose at 5:03 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

It gets kind of jagged and painful to look at after a couple pages, the layout reminds me kind of like an art-school graduate project in its failed attempt to have no attention called to the layout, and I don't see a zoom level anywhere that I might be able to peruse the text blocks at a readable level to confirm, but based on what I can see on the links I think it fails on the level of being readable which ... well, it's a really long book, so shouldn't that be a goal?
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:02 AM on September 17, 2011

Well, if this has left anyone with hand-illuminated-holy-book blue-balls, this may furnish a remedy.
posted by Trurl at 6:49 AM on September 17, 2011

What version did they use for the text? I'm unable to enlarge the pages enough to read them.
posted by francesca too at 7:04 AM on September 17, 2011

I wish I had the money to commission them to make an illuminated On the Origin of Species.
posted by Renoroc at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

"What version did they use for the text?"

Seemed to be the NRSV from the couple of pages I could make out.

Also they're Catholic Benedictines, so one would expect NRSV (CE) or NACB.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:17 AM on September 17, 2011

I attended St. John's, and they have a few pages available to view at any one time at the library. They're gorgeous in person.

Eyebrows, I think you're right, if memory serves it was NSRV.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:52 PM on September 17, 2011

same old ending...
posted by onesidys at 8:26 PM on September 17, 2011

oh, wait - is this the my father's tapes thread?!
posted by onesidys at 8:29 PM on September 17, 2011

I have been interested in this project for some time. I am delighted that it's done now.

My dad, brothers, uncles, and uncounted high school classmates were Johnnies (heck, I even went to summer camp there: ugh, too much mandatory sports).

Until now, my favorite product of the Abbey was its bitchin' bread, but this is a beautilful work of art. My dad tells me that the monks used to sing their daily prayers, and he could hear them chant as he studied. I find that a beautiful idea, and wish someone at my college had substituted it for the WFNX and Nirvana I heard 24/7 in college.

As an act of devotion and piety, I think this is a great achievement.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on September 19, 2011

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