COLLEGEVILLE -- After over two decades of planning and work, the Saint John's Bible will be on display Friday at St. John's University.

Tim Ternes is the Director of the Saint John's Bible for the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's University. He says the project was started in honor of the new millennium.

"The project began in 1995 and they [Saint John's Abbey and University] formally commissioned it in 1998 as a way to mark the millennium. They were approached by world-renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to help him create this once in a millennia project."

The Saint John's Bible is all handwritten, the project was finished in 2011 and will now be in its permanent home at St. John's University. It features all 73 books of the Old and New Testament, including the deuterocanonical books or the apocrypha books. Ternes says it's not just about reading the bible though, it's about seeing it come to life.

"It's not a new written translation but a new visual translation. When it's opened it's about two feet wide by three feet high and it includes over 1,100 beautifully handwritten pages and over 160 artworks."

Six calligraphers worked together to create the Bible's script, along with six artists who created the book's illustrations as well as 11 advisors to offer input.

Ternes says they decided to write the script with quill pens, on calfskin, with ancient inks and use gold and silver leaf. He says it wasn't the easy way to create the piece but it was necessary.

"The reason we did this was to make sure this would last for centuries. The tools, the materials you've heard about have all proven themselves over time. These materials have been used by ancient medievalists for centuries."

Only 28 of the 1,127 pages of the Saint John's Bible will be physically displayed, all will be digitally displayed.

The exhibit opens to the public Friday. Once opened its hours will be Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The exhibit is in the lower level of the Alcuin Library at St. John's Unversity.

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University/Wayne Torborg
(Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)