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Workshop Ignites the Spiritual Imagination Vassar Bible Collection Welcomes Heritage Edition Q&A with Michael Patella, OSB, SSD The Final Touch Calendar of Events

The Newsletter of the Heritage Edition —

The Fine Art Edition of The Saint John’s Bible

Heritage Edition Helps Build Support for Canadian Catholic University St. Mary’s University College has experienced an outpouring of support since acquiring a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible in 2012. Interest in the Bible — and consequently this small Catholic liberal arts university located in Calgary, Alberta — has surpassed President Gerry Turcotte’s expectations. “We intended to raise funds for the initiative over the course of a year,” said Dr. Turcotte. “But within two weeks we had more donors wanting to participate than we could accommodate. It was humbling and exciting.” For Dr. Turcotte, however, it wasn’t enough simply to find the money to purchase the volumes themselves. Instead he set out to ensure that sufficient funds were also raised to acquire all seven volumes of the Heritage Edition, to bring in world-class speakers for a two-year free public lecture series in its honor, and to develop an intensive program of instruction and community engagement. “A great treasure that you can’t afford to share isn’t really a treasure. We wanted to ensure that our fundraising efforts included a plan to introduce The Saint John’s Bible to the community.” H eritage e dition H elpS b uild S upport

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St. Mary’s University College President, Dr. Gerry Turcotte, shares a Heritage Edition volume with guests attending a presentation on the project.

On Word and Image


Often when we ponder The Saint John’s Bible we think of what is new about it: that it is the first handwritten and illuminated Bible to be commissioned in over five hundred years; that it uses the New Revised Standard Version of the biblical texts; that the illuminations draw on scholarship, imagery, and theology of the twenty-first century. The Saint John’s Bible undoubtedly is modern, but it is not merely a modern work of art. As with all good art, The Saint John’s Bible stands within a long tradition, in this case, that of illuminated Bibles. In Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of The Saint John’s Bible, Fr. Michael Patella, OSB, places the Bible project within the context of this tradition. In order to understand The Saint John’s Bible, we are invited by Fr. Michael and Benjamin C. Tilghman, an assistant professor of art history who contributes a chapter to this text, to appreciate the history of illuminated manuscripts and how this manuscript fits into that tradition. As the chair of the Word and Image

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Featured News

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Jim Triggs, executive director of the Heritage Program, provides workshop participants with information on how to share their Heritage Editions within their communities. Photo by Kerry Werlinger.

Workshop Helps Ignite the Spiritual Imagination The springtime campus of Saint John’s University was the perfect setting to welcome representatives from Carson Newman University, Flagler College, Rockhurst University, Samford University, College of Saint Mary, and Wartburg College for The Saint John’s Bible workshop. The purpose of the workshop, held in May 2013, was to immerse participants in what it took to create this Bible, what makes it a Bible for the 21st century, and how the Heritage Edition can be shared with the community. “We want The Saint John’s Bible to make a real impact, to ignite the spiritual imagination. These workshops give our partners the knowledge and tools they need to share the Bible with their communities,” said Jim Triggs, executive director of the Heritage Program.

The workshop began with introductions and a visit to the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, the home of The Saint John’s Bible. Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible, immersed the participants in the story of its creation, including its tools and techniques as well as its scribes and artists. The visit included time in the gallery with original folios on exhibition. In subsequent sessions, attendees learned more about the Heritage Edition: how it was made, what makes it a work of art in its own right and how to care for the volumes. Additionally participants provided case studies and best practices on how to share the Heritage Edition with their respective students, faculty, staff and communities.

“Today’s sessions were enormously helpful and provided a wealth of information, inspiration and resources! I feel like we received a whole new gift in addition to the gift of the Bible. The creativity, spirituality and sheer effort that has been put into these beautiful books is humbling. Thank you and your staff for your generous hospitality and insight.” — rebecca Hilton aSSiStant to tHe preSident for MiSSion integration, college of St. Mary, oMaHa, ne

“I knew that Samford University was fortunate to have the Heritage Edition donated to us, but I did not fully understand and appreciate the Bible itself until attending the workshop. The workshop is highly recommended for anyone who wants to ‘tell the story’ in a more precise, intriguing manner.” — Stacy gay univerSity advanceMent, SaMford univerSity, birMingHaM, al

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As a result of the successful fundraising campaign in 2012-2013, the university introduced a new Certificate in the Sacred Arts, offering 120 hours of instruction in sacred and religious art, calligraphy, iconography, manuscript illumination, stained glass design and Gregorian chant. “Registration in the program was an early indication of the attention the Bible would generate throughout the year,” said Vice-President Academic Mark Charlton, who personally developed the sacred arts courses to commemorate St. Mary’s acquisition of the Heritage Edition. “While enrollment was very brisk, a weekend iconography workshop offered by Aidan Hart, one of the illuminators of The Saint John’s Bible, sold out almost immediately,” said Dr. Charlton. It all began with a public event on October 4, 2012, which launched a busy year of lectures, courses and events designed to correspond with the Catholic Year of Faith in 2012-13. Guest speaker Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey and University was the first to describe to a Calgary audience how the Bible was conceived and created over a period of fifteen years. Fr. Michael J. McGivney Hall, St. Mary’s largest venue, was filled to capacity on January 28, 2013, for a lecture by Dr. Eileen Schuller, a professor at Canada’s McMaster University and one of the world’s foremost scholars on the Dead Sea Scrolls. “The Saint John’s Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls illustrate what it means to make the Word of God meaningful in diverse cultures and circumstances across the ages,” Dr. Schuller said. Dr. Barbara Sutton, Associate Dean, School of Theology•Seminary, Saint John’s University, led an intimate visio divina retreat at St. Mary’s in February 2013. Later that month, Martinho Isidro Correia, an artist with work in the


Vatican and private collections across Europe and North America, described how artists can use Pope John Paul II’s teachings about the theology of the body to bring the grand tradition of Catholic art into the 21st century. In March, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a leading New Testament scholar and author of the acclaimed Jewish Annotated New Testament, spoke to another capacity crowd about how knowledge of firstcentury Judaism helps us to understand Jesus and his parables. Her lecture was co-sponsored by St. Mary’s University College, Beth Tzedec Synagogue and the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews. “We have had hundreds and hundreds of people coming to campus for these events, from all walks of life, from all faiths backgrounds,” Dr. Turcotte said. “And now we are preparing to take the volumes out to schools and parishes. This project has fulfilled one of our greatest objectives: to bring people to the university, and to bring the university to the community. Without exception this interaction has created compelling, and I think lasting, support for St. Mary’s University College.” The Heritage volumes made their own first forays into the community during St. Mary’s Lenten Pilgrimage in February and March. Pilgrims were invited to view the Bible and participate in prayer services in several locations, including three local parishes, an Anglican church and St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Calgary. “The volumes never fail to overwhelm and delight,” said Dr. Turcotte. “The audiences are uniformly ecstatic about the beauty of the works.” The Year of Faith — and the year of celebration of The Saint John’s Bible at St. Mary’s University College — continues with the dedication of a new ambo and altar for St. Mary’s, and lectures by artists Aidan Hart and Jed

Glen Moyer takes a close-up look at the Heritage Edition’s Pentateuch volume of The Saint John’s Bible at the VIP Reception. Photos by Sergei Belski.

Gibbons. Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible, will help conclude the celebration with his presentation, From Inspiration to Illumination, An Introduction to The Saint John’s Bible, in November 2013. As Dr. Turcotte noted: “We are already planning next year’s program of events. And if this year is anything to go by, we are expecting more full houses, more community spirit, and terrific student engagement.” [Katherine Matiko, Staff Writer – St. Mary’s University College]

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Noted & Celebrated

vaSSar bible collection WelcoMeS Heritage edition It’s the bestselling book in history — over 2.5 billion copies sold, according to Businessweek ( July 18, 2005). And, yet, is there really such a thing as the Bible? The word ‘bible’ comes from the Greek ta biblia (“the books”), a collection of religious texts written by multiple authors over a period of 1,500 years. Over the centuries, there have been literally hundreds of versions of those texts, and thousands of translations. “The Bible as Book: Manuscript and Printed Editions,” co-taught by Vassar librarians Ron Patkus and Debra Bucher gave students the opportunity to explore the extensive Vassar Bible Collection in depth and to ponder the significance of the differences between various editions. “We’re seeing this almost as a laboratory course,” Patkus says. “We want the students to learn not just by listening to us talk but by looking at the actual objects and trying to figure out what a particular edition says about the time period in which it was printed or about the publisher or about who its intended audience was.”

g Equally amazing is the library’s most recent addition to the collection — a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible,

the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in more than 500 years. The Vassar Bible Collection was developed by William Bancroft Hill, the first professor of the newly formed Bible Study Department in 1899. (It was renamed the Bible Department a year later, the Biblical Literature Department in 1922, and the Religion Department in 1927.) In true Vassar fashion, Hill set about the task of collecting original sources for use in the two courses initially offered: “The Life of Christ” and “The Apostolic Age.” After his tenure, the collection continued to grow through gifts from alumnae/i as well as purchases, and today it includes medieval manuscript Bible leaves, Bible leaves and Bibles printed in the age of incunabula (materials printed before 1501), Reformation Bibles, English Bibles of the 17th and 18th centuries, and modern fine press Bibles, including the 1903 Doves Press Bible and 1935 Bruce Rogers’ Oxford Lectern

Ron Patkus, Associate Director of Libraries for Special Collections at Vassar College, gives a description to guests who have gathered to learn about the institution’s newest Heritage Edition acquisition. Photo by Vassar College.

Bible. “We also have fragments of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book ever printed in the history of the world — that’s pretty amazing,” Patkus says. Equally amazing is the library’s most recent addition to the collection — a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in more than 500 years. Fifteen years in the making, The Saint John’s Bible is a 21st century masterpiece created by an international team of artists, scribes, and scholars under the artistic direction of Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office. Using medieval tools, materials, and techniques, Jackson and his team have created breathtakingly modern interpretations of biblical texts. Adam and Eve, for example, are depicted as Ethiopians, in accord with our current knowledge of science and human history. DNA strands are drawn throughout the Genealogy of Christ. The Twin Towers appear in Luke’s parables. There is only one original of The Saint John’s Bible, but to share this remarkable work of art with the world, Saint John’s University created a Heritage Edition, widely recognized as “the highest quality reproduction ever made.” There are only several hundred of the Heritage Editions — one of which now belongs to Vassar, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of an alumna, Lucy Rosenberry Jones ’63, who just happens to be the great-niece of William Bancroft Hill. To learn more about the Heritage Edition, visit [By Julia Van Der Velder. This article was originally posted on Vassar Alumnae/iHub. See]


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WordS reflected in art I love art, but I have to admit that I’m a “word” person. When I see words treated as art I pay attention. Every word in The Saint John’s Bible is a piece of art, placed on the page by a scribe who knows how to make words beautiful. At the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library we have a fascinating display of the work of six different scribes from The Saint John’s Bible. From a distance the letter forms look alike, but up close you can see the individual craft of each scribe: the longer tail of a comma, a charmingly curved “y,” a period that is slightly more diamondshaped than round. That is why I love Thomas Ingmire’s illumination of the ‘Ten Commandments.’ We see the unspoken spiritual truths learned by human beings gradually coalescing into written words: things not just thought, but spoken, then written down, and therefore able to be more widely shared. From inchoate thought to words to exuberant flow of color and shape, we see human beings learn God’s deepest will for them as they move from cluelessness to words to something beyond words. That’s where we live: somewhere between thought and action, the words deeply internalized and guiding what we do. This move from thinking to life parallels what Christians mean when they talk about “Incarnation.” God’s love became incarnate, enfleshed, in Jesus of Nazareth. And so our deepest thoughts slowly swim into expression in words. Those deepest thoughts have been given to us by God, and expressing them is part of God’s creative work in us. Such was the experience of the people of Israel. All of their trials, their persecutions, their exile and years in the desert: so many things were bubbling up inside them. Not all of it was true — the longing for quick fixes and and reaching for manageable gods were false voices. But Moses heard something different, something deeper: God’s will spoken to him on a mountain top, God’s will manifest in words that could be written, carved in stone, spoken aloud, later written on a page. As we trace this particular illumination from the silence below to the exuberant glory bursting from the top of the page, we follow our own paths from uncertainty to faith, from fear to praise, from longing to gratitude.

Ten Commandments, Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Minnesota USA.

[Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, is the executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and is a professor of Theology at the Saint John’s School of Theology•Seminary. Fr. Stewart has published extensively on monastic topics at both popular and scholarly levels including Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition and Cassian the Monk.] Photo by Wayne Torborg.

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First Person

“When the Committee on Illumination and Text (CIT) began its work, our deliberations were so exciting and fascinating that I thought it would be great if our findings could find their way to a broader audience….” Fr. Michael Patella, OSB, SSD, is professor of New Testament at the School of Theology•Seminary of Saint John’s University, Collegeville, where he also serves as seminary rector. His books include Angels and Demons: A Christian Primer of the Spiritual World (Liturgical Press, 2012), The Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark (T&T Clark, 2006), and The Gospel according to Luke of the New Collegeville Bible Fr. Michael Patella, OSB Commentary Series (Liturgical Press, 2005). He has been a frequent contributor to The Bible Today and is a member of the Catholic Biblical Association. He served as chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text for The Saint John’s Bible.


Congratulations on the publication of Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of The Saint John’s Bible. At what point during the creation of The Saint John’s Bible did you decide to write the book?

A: When the Committee on Illumination and Text (CIT) began its work, our deliberations were so exciting and fascinating that I thought it would be great if our findings could find their way to a broader audience, but I could not really think of how to do that. As time went on, and as people began to ask questions about The Saint John’s Bible, it became clear to me that providing the fruit of the CIT’s discussions to others was not only desirable but also necessary. Once the Bible was completed, many pieces fell in order, and I began to imagine the design for such a commentary, which I completed during a sabbatical.


The Saint John’s Bible enjoys wide appeal. Did you write Word and Image with a particular audience in mind?

A: Yes. The book is pitched to academics as well as to those who have deep and abiding interest in Scripture, art, history, or theology but whose work may lie outside the academy. Q:

How difficult was it to offer the reader your perspectives and interpretations without crossing the line of simply explaining the art of this Bible?

A: I think all of us have the temptation to talk about people, topics, and things we love, and when we love someone or something, we try to nail down the essential characteristic of

the person or subject that can represent the totality of our experience with him, her, or it. When we attempt to do so, however, we end up speaking on and on and on in our description. I found myself never completely satisfied with what I said, because there was always still more to say. Eventually I concluded that it was best to stop precisely at this point in order to give space for the reader’s imagination. It was difficult to do at first, but the process became easier as I continued with the book.


As the chair of CIT, were there times when you had to bite your tongue when you disagreed with the artist’s perspective or the committee’s consensus? What other struggles did you face along the way?

A: Actually, I don’t think any of us on the CIT or any of the artists ever bit our tongues; too much was at stake for the whole project. We were always respectful, however, and our disagreements were always framed in such a way that we learned from what each other said. We always found a way to move the discussion forward. The biggest struggle was maintaining our enthusiasm over the course of twelve years for the work we were doing on the Bible. Personally, toward the end, it became difficult to remember what we had said about a particular passage earlier on in the project. Fortunately, we had superlative secretarial support for all our meetings, to the point that the records of many discussions were practically on instant recall. This high level of organization helped considerably in obviating many frustrations and furthering creative thinking to the very end.

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Production Notes tHe final toucH On March 4, 2013, the final chapter in the production of the Heritage Edition was written and the book on the production was closed. I attended the foil review of the cover of the Letters and Revelation volume of the Heritage Edition in Phoenix, Arizona at Roswell Bookbinding. Since each of the covers of the Heritage Edition volumes is different, they require a personal appearance to approve the way in which the foil is applied according to the design provided by the project’s artistic director, Donald Jackson and his studio assistant, Sarah Harris. The inspiration for each of the covers comes from inside each of the volumes. There is a menorah on the cover of Pentateuch, a voice print of the monks of Saint John’s Abbey chanting a psalm on the cover of Psalms, and seraph’s wings grace the cover of Prophets. The gold on the covers hint at the involvement of God in the volumes, and the images that are embossed on the covers invite the reader to begin the process of contemplation before ever turning a page. In a time when books are decreasingly printed and increasingly downloaded, it has been immensely rewarding to be involved in a project that has taught us to slow down, digest the Word, and contemplate the efforts of dozens of people who created something that has meant so many things to so many people over the past decade and a half. This will be the last article on the production of the various editions of the

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Heritage Program of The Saint John’s Bible. In a project spanning more than six years, it seems somehow anticlimactic to end with such a short article, but the dénouement is often no more than a whisper. [Craig Bruner is the Operations Consultant for the Heritage Edition.]

upcoMing eventS and exHibitionS of tHe Heritage edition August 1 to September 15, 2013 Hjemkomst Center, Moorhead, MN September 8 -13, 2013 Greenlease Library, Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO September 25 to October 25, 2013 Ted Russell Hall, Carson-Newman University, Jefferson City, TN November 15 to December 15, 2013 Thomas Tredway Library, Augustana University, Rock Island, IL January 10 to February 10, 2014 Bachman Fine Arts Center, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA


Committee on Illumination and Text, a group of scholars and religious who provided the theological background for the illuminations, Fr. Michael knows more about the exegetical and theological content of the Bible Project than perhaps anyone else in the world. As a member of Saint John’s Abbey, he appreciates the place that the Bible in general and this project in particular holds within monastic tradition. The temptation when viewing The Saint John’s Bible is to revere it as a piece of art, viewing and evaluating its artistic merit alone, or to enshrine it as Sacred Scripture, divorcing it from the cultural and theological context in which it is situated. Fr. Michael shows that there is a third way to view this sacred art. He examines the artwork of the Bible and demonstrates how the illuminations and texts, when put in conversation with each other, can lead viewers of the Bible

to a deeper understanding of both word and image. As Fr. Michael writes in the introduction, “We should never consider art and theology separate entities. Indeed, the word written in calligraphy and the accompanying images expressing a salient point are both art. In this sense, the art is not only a vehicle to express the theology but also an embodiment of theological thinking, wonderment, and exploration. Moreover, in its best moments and pieces, the art functions as a window into the divine.” The Saint John’s Bible provides one such window, and Fr. Michael’s Word and Image summons readers to engage the text and illuminations to thereby strengthen and deepen their relationship with God. [Lauren L. Murphy is the managing editor for the academic and trade department at Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.]

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Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Saint John’s Univ.

Saint JoHn’S univerSity Heritage Program PO Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321

To see a complete listing of Saint John’s Bible events, visit: and click on “See the Bible.” You can also follow the journey of The Saint John’s Bible on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Regular updates, advance notices of new publications and photos of new illuminations can all be found on these social media sites.

Calendar of Events Upcoming Events Featuring the Original Manuscript and Framed Prints original exHibitionS

print exHibitionS

Ongoing Exhibition Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN

August 1 to September 15, 2013 (25 prints) Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Moorhead, MN

August 6 to October 20, 2013 (12 folios, 14 prints) Minnesota Marine Art Museum Winona, MN Home.aspx

August 6 to September 1, 2013 (25 prints) Polish Museum of Winona, Winona, MN

October 27 to November 24, 2013 (25 prints) First Congregational Church of Boulder, UCC Boulder, CO

September 1 to November 14, 2013 (16 prints) The Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery St. Paul, MN

November 21 to November 23, 2013 (17 prints) National Catholic Youth Conference Indianapolis, IN

September 30 to October 25, 2013 (25 prints) Center for Norbertine Studies St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

November 26 to December 29, 2013 (25 prints) Arts on Grand, Spencer, IA

December 5, 2013 to March 2, 2014 (Pages from all seven volumes.) Canton Museum of Art, Canton, OH March 21 to April 23, 2014 (Pages from all seven volumes.) Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL

October 14 to November 17, 2013 (10 prints) All Saints Catholic Church, Rossford, OH

About our Exhibitions: Heritage Edition exhibitions feature Heritage Edition framed prints and/ or Heritage Edition volumes. Print exhibitions feature framed high-quality, fine art gicleé prints. Exhibitions of the original manuscript are a unique opportunity to see unbound pages of the original artwork.

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