Extraordinary Illuminated Bible Finds a Home in Dallas

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration
Posted Jan 27, 2023

The Rev. Rebecca Tankersley, Senior Associate Rector, proclaiming the Gospel from the Saint John’s Bible.

“One of the extraordinary undertakings of our times.” — Smithsonian Magazine

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration has brought The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition – a fine-art replica of the first hand-written and illuminated Bible in English since the Middle Ages – to the greater Dallas area. In 1998, the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota commissioned Donald Jackson, the official scribe to Queen Elizabeth II, to create a handwritten Bible to celebrate the new millennium. The work took 15 scribes and artists working on two continents nearly 13 years to complete. Smithsonian Magazine hailed it as “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our times,” and Pope Benedict XVI described it as a “work for eternity.”

As work finished on the original, Mr. Jackson oversaw the creation of a limited number of reproductions. Known as Heritage Editions, these full-size volumes are hand-finished, embossed with gold leaf, and bound in seven leather folios. Transfiguration acquired one of these editions in 2022, thanks to lead gifts from Bruce and Elaine Culver and Bob and Frances Martin. The seven volumes are on permanent display at Transfiguration, adjacent to the first indoor labyrinth built in North America. Other Heritage Editions are owned by religious institutions around the world, including the Vatican. SMU’s Bridwell Library recently acquired a Heritage Edition for its collection.

The script for the Saint John’s Bible was uniquely developed by Mr. Jackson and his team, but it is the illuminations that have garnered the most acclaim. Intending it to be a Bible created for a modern age using ancient methods, alongside traditional illuminations the artists incorporated elements of science and medicine, and included representations of historically marginalized groups. Some illuminations stretch across entire pages, while others are tucked into the margins. The effect is by turns dramatic, inspiring, and even amusing.

Transfiguration welcomes churches, schools, and community groups to experience the Saint John’s Bible. Visitors can contact the church to schedule time with a trained docent to guide them through the manuscripts. The Rector of Transfiguration, the Rev. Casey Shobe, says, “I marvel at the grace made known through human skill, and I am confident that all who encounter this Bible will encounter God.”

About Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration:

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration is located in far north Dallas. The church is led by the Rev. Casey Shobe and known for its progressive Christian witness and rich liturgical tradition. Transfiguration’s mission is to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and they welcome all to come and grow deeper in faith.

Please contact TJ McCoy, Director of Communications at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, 972-233-1898 x228 for more information.