The Scribe newsletter from The Saint John's Bible View the online version | FORWARD TO A FRIEND »
The Scribe April / May 2013 Vol. 2, Issue 4
Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeFacebook Twitter YouTube Saint John's Bible
The Ten Commandments
Saint John's Bible- 7 Volume Set
Ten Commandments, Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2002 The Saint John’s Bible,
Saint John’s University, Minnesota USA.

I love art, but I have to admit that I’m a “word” person. When I see words treated as art I pay attention. Every word in The Saint John’s Bible is a piece of art, placed on the page by a scribe who knows how to make words beautiful.

At the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library we have a fascinating display of the work of six different scribes from The Saint John’s Bible. From a distance the letter forms look alike, but up close you can see the individual craft of each scribe: the longer tail of a comma, a charmingly curved “y,” a period that is slightly more diamond-shaped than round.

That is why I love Thomas Ingmire’s illumination of the ‘Ten Commandments.’ We see the unspoken spiritual truths learned by human beings gradually coalescing into written words: things not just thought, but spoken, then written down, and therefore able to be more widely shared. From inchoate thought to words to exuberant flow of color and shape, we see human beings learn God’s deepest will for them as they move from cluelessness to words to something beyond words. That’s where we live: somewhere between thought and action, the words deeply internalized and guiding what we do.

This move from thinking to life parallels what Christians mean when they talk about “Incarnation.” God’s love became incarnate, enfleshed, in Jesus of Nazareth. And so our deepest thoughts slowly swim into expression in words. Those deepest thoughts have been given to us by God, and expressing them is part of God’s creative work in us. Such was the experience of the people of Israel. All of their trials, their persecutions, their exile and years in the desert: so many things were bubbling up inside them. Not all of it was true—the longing for quick fixes and and reaching for manageable gods were false voices. But Moses heard something different, something deeper: God’s will spoken to him on a mountain top, God’s will manifest in words that could be written, carved in stone, spoken aloud, later written on a page. As we trace this particular illumination from the silence below to the exuberant glory bursting from the top of the page, we follow our own paths from uncertainty to faith, from fear to praise, from longing to gratitude.

- Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, is the executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and is a professor of Theology at the Saint John’s School of Theology. Stewart has published extensively on monastic topics at both popular and scholarly levels including Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition and Cassian the Monk.


May 7, 2013 through August 25, 2013

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York is celebrating its newest acquisition, the receipt of a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible. On exhibition will be the ‘Prophets’ volume and with it, Donald Jackson’s sketch study for the ‘Gospel of John Frontispiece.’

Exhibition details can be viewed via:

See the Bible
Touring Exhibitions

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

Canton Museum of Art
Canton, OH
December 5, 2013 to March 2, 2014

Print Exhibitions

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

Polish Cultural Institute & Museum
Winona, MN
Aug. 6, 2013 - September 1, 2013