Sunday, August 21, 2005

Beautiful words
The St. John's Bible project
by Jason Byassee

Bibles are cheap. In their zeal to make scripture accessible to everyone, Protestants have manufactured Bibles in almost every language and made them available for startlingly small sums. Perhaps in doing so they have unwittingly made the Bible cheap not just financially, but theologically. Whereas Wycliffe and Tyndale devoted their lives to creating a Bible in the vernacular, modern folks have access to plenty of Bibles but are not very interested in reading them.

The St. John's Bible is not cheap. It is being produced by dozens of scholars and artists who have been laboring for almost a decade, at a cost of about $4 million, to create the first handwritten, illuminated Bible in five centuries. Even reproductions of the seven-volume Bible will be pricey. A museum-quality facsimile will cost thousands of dollars. The one trade volume available, Gospels and Acts (Liturgical Press), runs $64.95. This is a long way from the two bucks it takes the Gideons to produce a New Testament. In fact, chief calligrapher Donald Jackson and his colleagues are producing something priceless—a Bible beautiful enough to make readers want to keep reading, and even want to praise God.



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