The St. John's Bible is an exciting project that began in 1999 and has continued to this day. The project's goal is to produce a completely new hand-written and illuminated Bible, one of the few since the advent of the printing press.
The project is being led by well-known calligrapher Donald Jackson, who is the official scribe to Queen Elizabeth II. Many of the illuminations, like the one on the left that depicts the genealogy of Jesus, are quite stunning. The main goal of those involved in The Saint John’s Bible project is to ignite the spiritual imagination of all peoples throughout the world by commissioning a work of art that illuminates the Word of God for a new millennium, in a way that is relevant to the 21st century. When completed, the Bible in seven volumes will be large for liturgical and exhibition purposes (15 3/4" wide by 23 1/2” tall when closed).
As the website states: "This is the first time in 500 years that a Benedictine Monastery has commissioned a handwritten, illuminated Bible. Its construction parallels that of its medieval predecessors, written on vellum, using quills, natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments and gold leaf while incorporating modern themes, images and technology of the 21st century."
In our digital age, I think the St. John's Bible is truly a breath of fresh air. I hope to purchase some of the prints at some point in the near future.
One of the interesting decisions that Jackson and the team had to make was on which Bible translation to use as the base text. With the goal of providing a 21st Century work of art, it seems necessary that a more recent translation would be desirable. In my mind, that leaves the options as being only the NAB, NJB, or NRSV. (Keep in mind the RSV-2CE was not published when the project began.)
Ultimately, they decided on the NRSV: "The translation of the Bible known as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was chosen for The Saint John’s Bible for a number of reasons. Its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, had the distinction of being officially authorized for use by all major Christian churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. Also, NRSV is a modern English translation with a strong literal tradition. It employs gender-inclusive language for references to men and women, usually done in a non-obtrusive manner."
Also, it is interesting to note that each hand-written page contains the textual notes of the NRSV as well. The whole project is slated to be completed some time this year.