News release prepared by: Megan Molitor, 785-532-1566, molitor@k-state.edu

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sidebar: New arrival at K-State is a gift of art and history

MANHATTAN -- A Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible recently arrived at Kansas State University, thanks to a generous gift from alumni Warren and Mary Lynn Staley, Edina, Minn.

The university and surrounding community have the opportunity to view the reproduced manuscript in the Morse department of special collections at Hale Library.

Some few key pieces of information about this work of art include:

* The Saint John's Bible was commissioned by St. John's Abbey and University and was executed by Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office, along with a team of artists and scribes.

* The script used in the original Saint John's Bible was designed by Jackson to be readable, modern and dignified. Because six individual scribes worked on the project, subtle differences can be seen in the final script.

* All 73 books from the Old and New Testaments will be presented in seven volumes of approximately 1,150 pages in the New Revised Standard Version.

* The original text was made using traditional materials like calfskin vellum, ancient inks, platinum and gold, and silver leaf. It was written with quill pens made from goose, turkey and swan feathers. Each page took up to 12 hours to create.

* Only the largest feathers are used in making the quill pens. For right-handed scribes, the most desirable flight feathers are the first three from a mature bird's left wing. Their shape naturally fits the curve of the scribe's hand.

* The first Heritage Edition was presented to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in April 2008. Upon seeing it, he deemed the manuscript "a great work of art for eternity."

* Illustrations within the Heritage Edition feature both historical and contemporary images, including satellite images of earth.

* To err is human, but to redo eight hours of calligraphy is a nightmare. To fix errors on a page in the original Saint John's Bible, the creators would employ several tricks disguised as art, like an illustration of a bird carrying the forgotten words to the space in which they belonged.