The Saint John's Bible, first complete illuminated manuscript of the Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the invention of printing by movable type, was completed for St. John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota on May 2011.
Commissioned in 1998 by monks at St. John’s Abbey and University to celebrate the beginning of a new millennium, The St. John's Bible was collaboration between a group of scriptural scholars and theologians, and a team of artists and calligraphers under the supervision of artistic director and master calligrapher Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords, whose lifelong dream was to create an illuminated Bible.
Donald Jackson and his team wrote and illuminated The St. John's Bible on nearly 1150 large folio pages of vellum with 160 illuminations. The page openings of the manuscript are two feet high by three feet wide. The project was produced in a scriptorium in Monmouth, Wales, using quills hand-cut from goose, swan, and turkey feathers, and paints hand-ground from precious minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, silver, and 24-karat gold. To complete the project Jackson wrote the entire book of Revelation himself, without the assistance of additional scribes.
The complete Bible was bound in seven folio volumes, with some volumes weighing as much as 35 pounds.
In a blending of medieval and 21st century technology page-layout programs were used to plan the layout of the Bible and define line breaks for the text.
The biblical text chosen was the New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible because its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version, was officially authorized for use by most Christian churches, whether Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.
Distinguishing this 21st century illuminated manuscript of the bible from its medieval predecessors, various printed reproductions of the manuscript were published as each manuscript volume was completed. The reproductions exploited the finest available printing technology. The printed reproductions included an Apostles Edition, limited to only 12 sets, a limited, numbered and signed full-size exact facsimile Heritage Edition, and a reduced-size trade edition, complete in seven small folio volumes.