Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Saint John's Bible

One Bible that I have neglected all too often over the past few years is the magnificent Saint John's Bible.  I plan to rectify this oversight during the coming weeks and months.  Stay tuned!

Until then, does anyone happen to own any of the hardcover volumes or prints?  Perhaps have seen the original up close? What has been your experiences with the Saint John's Bible?


Aaron said...

We have all seven volumes in our library and they're nice. They make great coffee table items and are good for discussion/killing time. However, they aren't really meant for devotional use as they are huge.

Aaron said...

I have seen all the volumes and like them. They are too big for devotional use, but make great coffee table items. The art is nice in some parts and tacky in others. What they did with the Parable of the Sower is so ugly and unattractive. However their piece on the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew is stunning.

Jason Engel said...

Regarding the illumination for the parable of the sower of the seeds. Several illuminations are done in that style, which is traditional iconography that has been used by the Eastern Church for centuries to represent theological concepts and doctrines. There are very specific "rules" that govern precisely how the iconographic style is used. The style was intentionally chosen to honor the Eastern Church.

Go back and look at where all the seeds land. In which passage, on which words?

Explanation for those who don't have the SJB Gospels & Acts in front of them: This appears next to Mark 3 generally around 13-19, where Jesus calls his twelve apostles. Many of the seeds land on the names of the apostles.

It's little details like that which fascinate me about every illumination in there, even the iconography in G&A that may not appear at first blush to fit in with the other illuminations.

As for devotional, I have no problem using these volumes every day, but I might be cheating because I bought a small easel to hold the book for me while I sit at my desk and read (great way to display a volume, too).

rolf said...

It is an awesome achievement, each page being written and illuminated by hand! I would like to see the original.

Theophrastus said...

I own the ($250) reproduction set.

The SJB is obviously not a "working Bible" in the sense of small paperback copy of the NRSV (or any other modern translation.) Instead, it appeals to those interested in religious art. As religious art, I think it is a fantastic achievement, and there is much for all of us to learn. Individual Catholics (and the Catholic Church as a whole) as long been known for their patronage of religious art -- visual, musical, literary, and performance -- to inspire the individual to come closer to God, and the SJB follows in that wonderful tradition.

The SJB is firmly situated in time in our present era -- it is not an attempt at a pastiche of art from a former era. Parts of it are extraordinarily beautiful, and there is much that we can learn from it. If one simply wishes to read the text of the English Bible, there are more convenient and cheaper options. But the SJB should be not be compared with editions from Harper -- it is better to compare it with classical illustrated manuscripts such as the Urbino Bible.

If anything, there has been a scarcity of serious illustrated Catholic Bibles. When I think of serious illustrated English Catholic Bibles of the post-war period, the ones that come to mind are six-color Turner/Oxford NRSV edition (with illustrations from the Vatican Library and the Urbino Bible) and the Jerusalem Bible that had illustrations by Salvador Dali. All of these editions, like the SJB are worthwhile, and I wish there were more.

Chrysostom said...

The KJV and DRC are modern translations, right? I mean, they were published after the inauguration of Modernity by R. Descartes...