St. John’s Bible Returns, Finds Permanent Home at Berea College

St. John's Bible
After the exhibition next Tuesday, one volume of the Saint John’s Bible will be on display daily on the main floor of Hutchins Library.

The Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible is returning to Berea College and will become public on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

The St. John’s Bible Heritage Edition consists of 1,150 pages bound into seven volumes, each 2 feet by 3 feet when open and weighing about 20 pounds. They present the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, through calligraphy and illumination, a technique used to embellish the work with luminous colors, especially gold and silver leafing.

A special emphasis on the arrival of the Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible and its illuminations will occur during the Noon worship service in Danforth Chapel. David Allaway, Director of the Heritage Program from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, will be the special guest at the service and the Berea College Folk Roots Ensemble will provide special music. Later in the day, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM, all seven volumes of the St. John’s Bible will be on public display in the Hutchins Library. Berea College President Lyle Roelofs and Mr. Allaway will make remarks and guests will have opportunities to spend time reviewing all seven volume of this special edition of the Bible, which include the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom Books, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Acts, and Letters and Revelation.

During the 2014-15 academic year Berea College displayed the Gospels and Acts volume of the St. John’s Bible, turning pages daily so viewers could follow the text and illuminations throughout the year. Now the College will have a complete set of all seven volumes of the Heritage Edition. After the exhibition next Tuesday, one volume of the Saint John’s Bible will be on display daily on the main floor of Hutchins Library. Additional volumes of the Bible may be viewed in Special Collections by appointment. To arrange a time to view the Bible, e-mail special_collections@berea.edu.

The St. John’s Bible at Berea College continues a long tradition of making valuable texts available for viewing by students, faculty, staff and the public. In addition to the St. John’s Bible, the Hutchins Library Special Collections and Archives includes many other rare manuscripts, early printed Bibles and sacred texts.

Rachel Vagts, Head of Special Collections & Archives states, “Special Collections and our collection of Bibles has a long and rich tradition at Hutchins Library. From the early years of President Frost collecting rare texts during his travels abroad, to gifts from many dedicated friends of the college, we are fortunate to have a collection of rare and sacred texts to share with our students for years to come. The acquisition of the Saint John’s Bible is yet another chapter in that history and we are delighted to have it here in the library to share with our campus and the community beyond.” The Hutchins Library Special Collections and Archives rare book collection is distinguished for its centuries-old Bibles, its first editions in English and American literature, ballad books, hymnals, and 19th century works on the anti-slavery movement and Black history.

The acquisition and exhibition of this Bible was arranged by the Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center at Berea College. They state that access to this Bible is for everyone and note that  even people who are not religious will be fascinated by it. The project combines the work of many academic disciplines including art, history, science, religion, and languages.