Prior to the widespread use of the printing press, monastic orders preserved important texts by spending painstaking hours reproducing them calligraphically. These texts were often illuminated with illustrations in color or even in gold or silver. Each of these hand-copied texts became a work of art on its own and, in the modern era, can be worth a fortune. Reviving the monastic tradition, Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned calligraphic artist Donald Jackson to achieve his dream of writing a bible by hand.
The Saint John’s Bible is as epic in volume as it was an undertaking. Two feet tall, three feet wide and over 1,000 pages long, the illuminated text is bound in seven volumes. While the bible was rendered by hand, its layout was managed by state-of-the-art computer technology. This expensive bible was written on vellum using quills dipped in handmade inks and hand-ground pigments. It was also gilded in gold and silver leaf.