Saint John’s Bible on Campus

To celebrate Marian University’s recent acquisition of one of the rare Heritage Editions of the Saint John’s Bible (SJB), the Mother Theresa Hackelmeier Memorial Library will host a calligraphy workshop of education and artistic potential for students and faculty on Wednesday, Oct. 27. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the first floor of the library for those interested. Events encompassing the St. John’s Bible are scheduled throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. The SJB’s prominence on campus has generated curiosity from students. Some wondering if attending these events are worthwhile or impactful to their lives.

The Saint John’s Bible’s is the world’s first hand-illuminated Christian Bible, comprising the painting talents of six renowned calligraphers under the guidance of creator Donald Jackson. The intent of its creation was to highlight the parallels between Biblical context and the diversity of the modern world. Marian’s heritage edition of the book will be on display until May 2020. A recent interview with a member of the SJB core team, Edward Mandity, Assistant Library Director, emphasized the importance of the Bible and why it is pivotal to the Marian community.

“The Saint John’s Bible really is a Bible not just for all faiths within Christianity,” he said. “But it’s a tool that anyone can take from in any faith community.”

Though a Catholic and Franciscan institution, Marian University embraces a community of members from all walks of faith and identity. Since the Bible and the events are promoted on sandwich boards, event emails, in-class assignments, and so forth, the question has surfaced within the student body: is this beneficial to all students?

Input received from other students shows a wide range of perspectives regarding the work’s importance. In conversations with students in a communication course incorporating the work into an assignment, an overall positive correlation exists between themselves and an appreciation for the artistic works of the SJB.

“It has been such an unexpected and fascinating experience,” a junior communication student in the New Media and Digital Culture course said. “I don’t consider myself religious, but the art pieces really gave me such riveting insights on where our world is moving and how art plays such a complex yet beautiful role in painting our current situations.”

A student in one of Marian’s art history courses views the Bible’s inclusion within the course curriculum as positive.

“Just from this assignment alone, I was able to draw from the symbolism of colors presented in the Bible’s art pieces and recognize the religious allusions in my television shows and in other written works… Blew my mind,” the student said.

The same student is integrating the knowledge he gained within his senior seminar project.

Conversations with Marian students around campus generated mixed perspectives on the importance of the Bible. There is a positive correlation between the student body and Bible among those who are members of the San Damiano Scholars program or possess some kind of solidified faith.  Students who claimed to have little or no faith in any denomination within Christianity had a more mixed view of the Bible.