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The Scribe Jan 2013 Vol. 1, Issue 1
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Heritage Edition Installed at Australian Catholic University
Saint John's Bible- 7 Volume Set
L to R: Ms. Fides Lawton (ACU Director of Libraries), Fr. Anthony Casamento, Prof. Greg Craven (ACU President), Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB (Saint John’s University) and Prof. Anne Cummins (ACU Vice President for Students.)

Australian Catholic University (ACU) recently hosted the reception of The Saint John’s Heritage Bible. ACU is the first institution in the southern hemisphere to own one of only 299 sets of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition. As the largest English speaking Catholic university in the world and as one of the fastest growing universities in Australia and the region, ACU engages the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to bring a distinct perspective to higher education.

ACU was opened on January 1, 1991 following the blending of four Catholic tertiary institutions in eastern Australia, institutions which had their origins in the mid-1800s. Through a series of amalgamations, relocations, transfers of responsibilities and diocesan initiatives, more than 20 historical entities have contributed to the creation of the University which is a member of the publicly-funded national system of Australian universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

The University’s mission is to explore cultural, social, ethical and religious issues through the lens of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in its teaching, research and service. By fostering and advancing knowledge in education, health, commerce, the humanities, the sciences and technologies, theology and philosophy, law, and the creative arts, ACU contributes to its local, national and international communities.

ACU’s Director of Identity and Mission, Fr. Anthony Casamento, CSMA, who was the driving force behind the University’s decision to acquire a complete set of the Bible said that the decision to invest in a set of volumes of the Heritage Edition was a logical acquisition for the institution. “With the largest faculty of theology and philosophy in the country, and the leading contributor to the Catholic theological tradition in the region, access to The Saint John’s Bible was a must for ACU scholars and students alike.” He said. “The mission of The Saint John’s Bible is to ignite the spiritual imagination, and the Bible will serve as an instrument for the University in interfaith dialogue, a centerpiece of liturgies, and a luminous icon at the spiritual center of life on ACU campuses. We are delighted that staff and students at the university will have access to these inspiring and historical volumes.”

The decision to purchase the set came after Fr. Anthony attended the ACCU Annual Conference in Washington in late January 2012 and viewed some of the volumes that were on display in the conference venue. After arriving back in Australia, Fr. Anthony considered at first the “Year with Saint John’s” program that had been piloted in the US as a means of making the Bible available briefly to ACU staff and students. However, after a discussion with ACU’s President, Professor Greg Craven, they both agreed that it would be a far wiser decision to purchase an entire set. Fr. Anthony said that Professor Craven is a great believer in the importance of Catholic universities to be custodians of the cultural treasures of the Church, and so this made the decision much easier.

Fr. Eric Hollas, a Benedictine monk and priest from Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, USA – instrumental in establishing The Saint John’s Bible project – officially handed over the set of books to ACU President Professor Greg Craven at the University’s North Sydney Campus in mid-November 2012. Fr. Eric visited ACU to hold information sessions and provided comprehensive training for staff at the University in ways to effectively utilize, showcase and manage the complete set. ACU is a multi-campus University, with six campuses across the eastern states of Australia. With The Saint John’s Bible being separated into seven volumes each ACU Campus library will receive one of the volumes for a short period of time to display, before being rotated with the other campus libraries over time. It is envisaged that periodically, all volumes of the Bible will come together to be displayed in their entirety.

   - Fr. Anthony Casamento, CSMA, Director of Identity and Mission, Australian Catholic University.


Interview with Professor Greg Craven
   - President of Australian Catholic University

Q: Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) mission is “to engage the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to bring a distinct perspective to higher education.” How do you envision The Saint John’s Bible reinforcing its mission?

A: As a Catholic university, scripture and tradition nourish ACU in its mission. We believe that The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition is another resource that the university has to engage with its mission, by offering staff and students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Word of God by means of this beautiful and outstanding work of scholarship, and draw from this in their teaching, research and learning.

Q: Speaking of missions, the mission of The Saint John’s Bible is to ignite the spiritual imagination of people around the world. (You can’t get more “around the world” than Australia!) Has the arrival of the Heritage Edition sparked the interest of students, faculty and staff?

A: There has been significant interest in the arrival of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition from within the university community. In particular there has been specific interest in the collection from the university’s biblical scholars and library staff, the “custodians” of the collection for the institution. What has been most interesting has been the way in which the Bible has been received by both Christians and non-Christians on our campuses, all of whom recognize the uniqueness of this collection as a sacred text.

Q: Donald Jackson and the other illuminators were influenced by artistic traditions from a variety of cultures. For example, in the ‘Creation’ illumination, Mr. Jackson included images inspired by aboriginal rock art from Australia that go back 28,000 years. Given Australia’s rich history and cultural diversity, how do you see the general public in Australia responding to The Saint John’s Bible?

A: There has already been significant interest in The St John’s Bible from the wider Australian community. In particular the local church is very excited about the collection. A number of dioceses have already approached the university about using the Bible in events that are being held across the country, particularly in relation to the Year of Faith. There has also been interest from other libraries in Australia about The Saint John’s Bible, both from a sacred and an historical, literary context.

Q: ACU is unique in that it has six campuses. What specific plans are in place to share the seven volumes throughout the university community?

A: Given that ACU is a multi-campus university (with six campuses across the eastern states of Australia) and that The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition is a seven-volume set, each ACU campus library will receive one of the volumes to display before rotating with the other campus libraries. It is envisaged that periodically all volumes of the Bible will come together to be displayed in their entirety. Staff from the university’s campus ministry program and libraries has undergone formation and instruction on the project so that they are able to host groups of staff and students for presentations on The Saint John’s Bible.

   - Professor Greg Craven, lawyer and academic, commenced as President of Australian Catholic University (ACU) in February 2008. An expert in public law, Professor Craven has published numerous journal articles and four books. A regular contributor to public debate, he is a columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

See the Bible
Touring Exhibitions

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
Saint John's Universtity
Collegeville, MN
Exhibition opens February 25, 2013

Print Exhibitions

Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church
Jacksonville, FL
Nov. 11, 2012 - January 27, 2013

Franciscan Spirituality Center
La Crosse, WI
April 1, 2013 - April 30, 2013

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
Moorhead, MN
Aug. 1, 2013 - September 15, 2013