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TESP 4 - The Christian Tradition - Sources and Citations

The Saint John's Bible Manuscript

The Saint John's Bible is a seven-volume handwritten, hand- illuminated manuscript. Using the materials and techniques of medieval manuscripts its illuminations create a modern theological statement about diversity and inclusion. The SJB blends Christian iconography with Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, Buddhist, and Native American symbols. It reconciles Christian values with contemporary science, and places technology and current events within the context of traditional biblical text.

The Benedictine monks of Saint John's Abbey in Minnesota commissioned Donald Jackson, the official scribe to Queen Elizabeth II, to create a handwritten Bible to celebrate the new millennium. The work took thirteen years to complete. With a team of 15 scribes and illuminators located on two continents, Jackson has created a Bible for the modern world.

Santa Clara University Archives & Special Collections has the Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible. The Heritage Edition is a life-size reproduction of the original Saint John's Bible that recreates the beauty of the original manuscript. Printed on 100% uncoated cotton paper, using state of the art offset lithographic technology, each volume is bound by hand, and includes hand-treated illuminations, making the Heritage Edition much more than just a fine print reproduction. Every Heritage Edition volume is signed by Donald Jackson.  The Archives & Special Collections Heritage Edition is No. 27 of only 299 copies. The seven-volume set was a generous gift of Mrs. Tita Diepenbrock.


Illumination from the Saint John's Bible


Image Credit: Matthew 1:1-17, The Genealogy of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission.  All rights reserved

The Heritage Edition of the SJB

“My experience with The Saint John’s Bible was love at first sight. It radiates hope and speaks to people of all faith journeys.”

Tita Crilly Diepenbrock,
Donor of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition
to Santa Clara University

The Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible is housed in the Martin Reading Room in Archives & Special Collections. More than a facsimile of the original Saint John's Bible manuscript, the Heritage Edition is a limited edition fine press publication.  The paper is 100% cotton with no artificial whiteners or brighteners, coatings or fillers. The translucent vellum pages of the original make “show-through” an integral part of the artwork. This is recreated on the cotton pages by printing—in reverse—a light watermark of the adjacent page. This archival paper will last for generations. The paper mill where it is produced, Monadnock Paper Mill, is not only the oldest continuously operating paper mill in the United States, but has also achieved carbon neutral status.

The inks used are fade-resistant. This permanent ink is applied through a special printing technique using ultraviolet light. The depth of the images is a testament to the quality of this process. Gold and silver foils are applied by hand to the illuminations to capture the stunning effect of gold and platinum leaf in the original. In ancient manuscripts, it’s the presence of gold that qualifies a manuscript as truly “illuminated.”

The volumes are bound in rich, handcrafted, embossed red leather made from pig skin. The spines are imprinted with the volume title and number in gold foil. Each volume is finished with an ornamental silver clasp.

Archives & Special Collections invites individuals and groups to visit the Norman F. Martin, S.J. Reading Room to experience the Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible. Class visits can also be arranged.