St. John’s Bible coming to MC Sept. 21-22; public presentations planned

St. John’s Bible coming to MC Sept. 21-22; public presentations planned 

Aug. 29, 2017

The St. John’s Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible in nearly 500 years, is coming to Maryville College Sept. 21-22.

The public is invited to presentations and an interactive event to experience the unique manuscript, all led by the Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones, arts ministry director at Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, N.C.

“During this year, as we celebrate Reformation 500, First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville and Montreat Conference Center are bringing one of seven volumes of the St. John’s Bible to Maryville College for two days,” said Kathleen Farnham, director of church relations at Maryville College. “Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones loves the conversation between arts and theology that this magnificent masterpiece offers. She will be presenting the Bible during class times, at an evening film/lecture presentation and in a hands-on art workshop, all designed to help us engage with the St. John's Bible in deeper ways, inspiring us in our modern times.”

The St. John’s Bible, designed to “ignite the spiritual imagination of the world,” is the first completely handwritten and hand-illuminated Bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the movable type printing press in the West that printed the Gutenberg Bible in 1455. Using the New Revision Standard Version Catholic Edition of the Bible, the St. John’s Bible is divided into seven volumes and is two-feet-tall by three-feet-wide when open. The manuscript Bible was made on vellum with 160 hand illuminations. The St. John’s Bible production was created by six calligraphers and six illuminators who used a variety of artistic genres. A 15-year project, the St. John’s Bible was finished in 2011 for St. John’s University.

First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville partnered with Montreat Conference Center, which is hosting the manuscript for one year, to bring the heritage edition of the Gospels & Acts volume of the St. John’s Bible to Maryville College. The manuscript will serve as the subject of a public presentation titled “The St. John’s Bible: Igniting the Spiritual Imagination” on Thurs., Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a screening of the film “The Illuminator,” followed by a presentation by Jones. A reception will follow the event.

Jones will also give two free, public presentations about the St. John’s Bible on Fri., Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall.

At 2 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 22, Jones will lead “An Afternoon of Art – Inspiration and Technique from the St. John’s Bible,” an interactive experience with the physical manuscript of the St. John’s Bible. The workshop is at capacity, so no more reservations are being taken.

On Sun., Sept. 24 at 9:45 a.m., Jones will give a presentation about the St. John’s Bible at First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville (620 State Street, Knoxville, 37902). The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the church’s chapel. For more information, please call FPC at 865-546-2531.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2017 semester is 1,181.