Handwritten, illuminated Bible on display in SLC

Friday, Oct. 05, 2012
Handwritten, illuminated Bible on display in SLC + Enlarge
Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John's Bible project (center), explains a detail about one of the books during a special event on Oct. 1 at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Salt Lake City. See video online at www.icatholic.org. IC photo/Marie Mischel
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — The Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, a handwritten, illuminated Bible, is on display at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark through Saturday.

The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey and University, in Minnesota. The original was handwritten and illustrated on calfskin vellum using traditional methods and materials such as hand-cut quills and pigments made from vermilion and lapis lazuli.

The Saint John’s Bible was created by a 23-member artistic team led by Donald Jackson, a renowned calligrapher who is senior scribe in the House of Lords in London.

Jackson’s skill at blending traditional art with contemporary ideas is particularly evident in the creation story, said Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible project, who is traveling with the exhibit at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

"I think it’s masterful, the way he has taken and woven all of the things we think about the creation story and yet been able to do it so that nobody gets mad," he said.

The Heritage Edition on display at the cathedral is a full-size fine art reproduction on archival-quality, 100 percent cotton paper. The calligraphy and illumination details were made with a special printing technique using ultraviolet light.

On display are six of the seven volumes of The Saint John’s Bible. The seventh – containing Letters and Revelation – isn’t yet complete, Ternes said.

How the Cathedral Church of Saint Mark came to display The Saint John’s Bible "is kind of a fun story," said the Very Rev. Ray Waldon, the cathedral’s rector and dean.

Almost 20 years ago, Fr. Waldon was working in a parish in Washington D.C. with Father Kirtley Yearwood, who then was studying to become an Episcopal priest.

"Now, fast-forward 17 years, he’s now with the [Saint John’s Bible] project," Fr. Waldon said. "He calls me and says, ‘We’re looking for a cathedral to come to.’ I said ‘yes’ right away."

Fr. Waldon said he hopes having The Saint John’s Bible at the cathedral will create renewed interest in the Bible itself. "I think it’s a wonderful way to get people back into the church, who would not normally come, to see something that they could never see again, to experience it and maybe, just maybe it will open a window to heaven," he said.

When a person views the Bible, "the first thing you want to do is just allow yourself to be open to what you’re seeing and pretty soon you’re going to see that the pages of The Saint John’s Bible – its beautifully handwritten pages – draw you in on their own and pretty soon you’re going to find yourself reading a few lines and then turning a page, and having this amazing discovery of beautiful artwork locking you in," Ternes said. "The Saint John’s Bible was meant to be shared. It’s a beautiful work of art that comes to life when you come together with others. The Bible is communal, and The Saint John’s Bible invites you to come together with others to make meaning."

The cathedral has various events throughout the week that are open to the public. "I think the most important thing is all are welcome; it doesn’t matter what faith tradition," Fr. Waldon said.

The Saint John's Bible, a handwritten, illuminated Bible, is on display at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark through Saturday, Oct. 6. The event is free to the public. The six volume may be viewed 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Special multi-media events/lectures are planned:”From Inspiration to Illumination,” Tuesday, noon to 1 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.; “The Art of Visio Divina,” Wednesday, 7 – 8 p.m.; and on Thursday, two events – a Bible study from 11 a.m. to noon and an interfaith service at 7 p.m. The illumed Bible will be used on Sunday at a special Mass at 10:30 a.m.

All events are at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 East 100 South, Salt Lake City. For information, visit http://stmarkscathedralut.org.

In addition, the cathedral bookstore has for sale note cards with illustrations from The Saint John’s Bible; readers’ guides to each of the books, a DVD about the book, a desk calendar, Illuminating the Word: The Making of the St. John’s Bible, by Christopher Calderhead; and pre-sale of replicas of the Bible.

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