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St. John's Bible: 'Igniting the Spiritual Imagination'

St. John's University in Minnesota and the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey have commissioned a handwritten, illuminated Bible. It is the first Bible in more than 500 years to be written by hand.

The St. John's Bible incorporates modern themes, images and technology of the 21st century. It takes between eight and 10 hours to write and illuminate a single page. So far, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Gospels, Acts and Psalms are complete. A goal of the project, according to a fact sheet, is to produce "a work of art [that] will ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world."

Calligrapher and artistic director Donald Jackson tells Scott Simon about the joy of his craft. Items from the first three volumes of the St. John's Bible will be on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from April 10 to July 3.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.