Handwritten Bible on display in Jonesboro

Handwritten Bible on display in Jonesboro
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Heritage Edition of the St. John's Bible is spending some time in Northeast Arkansas.

Saint John's Abbey and University of Collegeville, Minn. commissioned Donald Jackson to create a handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible in 1998.

Jackson is one of the world's foremost calligrapher and a senior scribe to Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords.

Father Mike Sinkler of St. Bernards said the creation of this work is monumental.

"This Bible is the first to be handwritten in 500 years," Father Sinkler said. "500 years ago, was when Gutenberg invented his printing press and it became much easier to print as we are used to copying. A handwritten Bible is a great effort. It was proposed by Donald Jackson, who is the Queen's calligrapher in England, and he said we had the ability in this day and age to handwrite a Bible in calligraphy exactly as the monks did it between 500 and 1000. The inks are made like they were back then, the paper is made, and everything like it was in the early centuries of the church."

Father Sinkler said this was a huge project to undertake.

"As they wrote this, it was about 12 hours to do one of the pages," Father Sinkler said. "That is how long each written page took. The artistry was done in the United States by artists and then the calfskin paper was sent back to England where six calligraphers wrote in a common type style to produce the Bible. It was about a 12 or 13-year effort in terms of planning and then writing."

Father Sinkler said the Bible is more than a work of art.

It's an inspiration of faith and our history.

"It is truly a work of art," Father Sinkler said. "We are using the images as the ancient Bible writers did. Kings would be pictured differently in 700 than they would have been in 1400. So, we have images from our day. They would be images from NASA, images from the killing fields of Cambodia and the story of Ezekiel which is not part of the Bible that we have. A rusted car as the symbol that we need to renew our earth. As a matter of fact, one of the parts of the Bible, when they were writing about reconciliation, is in September of 2011, and the twin towers are in there. And find reconciliation and that need for healing in our world, which the Bible brings us. And there are so many images of healing. That was one of the things that attracted St. Bernards to bringing and helping to bring the Bible to Arkansas. Because that's what Christ is here for. To heal us and bring Christ-like care to the sick."

Father Sinkler said they brought the Heritage Edition of the St. John's Bible to Region 8 for everyone to view.

"I'm hoping the people will come," Father Sinkler said. "It's exciting to me to be part of the adventure of bringing it and to bring this history and hopefully the illustrations of the scriptures to life. We talked yesterday in mass about how we're writing the next chapter of the Bible in the sense that we're called to live it and make the word of God present by our care for one another."

Father Sinkler said he hoped many people come out to enjoy the St. John's Bible.

"I hope they take away inspiration," Father Sinkler said. "And a greater willingness to go home and read. We had a family Bible that was beautiful, and it sat on the corner table in our living. It got opened to enter family history. We didn't spend a lot of time reading it. And especially in today's world when the Bible is written for us to read and it's so available and easily accessible and good commentaries to help us understand it. It's an amazing opportunity to use this to inspire us to go home and read it. It's really exciting to see people respond to the invitation and the opportunity that we have for these next two months."

The Bible will be on display in the chapel at the St. Bernards Memory Care Center from June 4 to July 27.

It is on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about St. Bernards, click here.

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