St. John's Bible: Celebrating Timeless Art


St. John's Bible: Celebrating Timeless Art

Through January 3, 2018

On display will be the artistry of two volumes: Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible also known as the Torah, and the Gospel & Acts volume. An extraordinary piece of art, the library will also display illustrations from the entire edition. 

**In collaboration with Christ the Lord Lutheran Church, Congregation Kneseth Israel, St. Mary's Church and Zion Lutheran Church.**



Past Events 

Sofer Neil Yerman at Congregation Kneseth Israel

Wednesday, December 6             7:30 pm             Congregation Kneseth Israel

Congregation Kneseth Israel, 330 Division Street, Elgin, IL 60177 is delighted to be hosting Sofer (scribe) Neil Yerman. Sofer Neil Yerman has been restoring and writing Torah scrolls and creating beautiful art for almost three decades. 

This program is timed to tie into the display of the Saint John's Bible, a joint program of the ELCA Churches in Elgin, Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Congregation Kneseth Israel and Gail Borden Public Library. This evening will be an opportunity to watch a Hebrew Calligrapher at work and experience the artistry both of Torah writing and of the Saint John's Bible and to learn a little bit about methodology, similarities and differences. For more information, call 847-741-5656. 


Screening of “The Illuminator: Bible for the 21st Century”

Monday, October 23             6:30 - 8:30 pm        Main Library - Meadows Community Rooms

The BBC program will tell the story of calligrapher Donald Jackson and his team that spent eleven years creating this masterwork. Light refreshments at 6:30; film 7pm.


Interactive Reception

Sunday, November 12           1:30 - 4:30 pm       Main Library - Lobby

Both volumes will be on display in the first floor lobby. Visitors will enjoy the ability to have pages turned, explore illuminated art, and interact with trained guides who will help people engage these amazing books.




The monks of Saint John ’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota commissioned the Saint John ’s Bible in 1995. At the start of the millennium, Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers, directed professional scribes in their effort to successfully merge centuries-old techniques and craftsmanship with modern-day computer technologies to produce an ambitious and monumental work of art. Exhibits of The Saint John's Bible have traveled to London and museums throughout the United States. 




One of Donald Jackson’s greatest ambitions was to create a 21st century Bible for the 21st century. The St. John’s Bible is 1,720 pages long and includes over 160 artworks. Its masterful artwork brings the Bible visually into the modern world by employing contemporary artistic idioms within the illustrations and illuminations. 



The two volumes intermittently on display at Gail Borden Library are replicas. The materials and labor that went into creating the original volumes make a fascinating story. 

The seven volumes are hand written on calfskin vellum, the script is written using hand-cut goose, turkey and swan quills, and the ink is hand-ground lamp black from 19th century Chinese ink sticks. Vermillion, lapis lazuli, and other cakes from natural minerals and stones are used for color.

The folios are illuminated with the brilliance of 24-karat gold leaf, silver leaf, and platinum. Three types of gilding are used in The Saint John's Bible: powdered gold, acrylic medium, and gesso. Gesso gilding is the most technically demanding and produces the most spectacular result. 

A single page took between 7 and 13 hours to be transcribed by a single scribe.