The Saint John's Bible April 2010: Vol. 2, Issue 4Forward to a Friend

In our little part of the world, the grass is greening, daffodils are blooming and the trees are preparing to unfurl their foliage. For Minnesotans, it's a time to celebrate the end of the winter and the beginning of new growth—much paralleling the Easter season which culminated earlier this month. Abbot John Klassen has prepared an Easter greeting for this month's enewsletter and true to his roots as a teacher, helps us understand the rich history and traditions surrounding this holiday.


The Gift of the Fifty Days

by Abbot John Klassen

When I am walking on campus and encountering people in the days following Easter Sunday, I greet people with "Happy Easter!" The greeting is almost always reciprocated but sometimes there is a puzzled expression, as if to ask: "John, Easter Sunday was ten days ago. Why the greeting at this point?" In our current Christian imagination we tend to limit Easter to one or a few days but this was not always so. The early Church extended the time for celebrating, for appropriating and for growing in the full significance of the Pascal events to a full fifty days of Easter.

Abbot John Klassen.

Pentecost is a Greek word that means "the fiftieth day." Its original meaning was tied to a Jewish harvest festival (Deut 16:10; Lev 23:15-16) that extended over the seven weeks following Passover. In Acts 2.1-4 the evangelist Luke describes the descending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles as they are gathered in Jerusalem to observe the fiftieth day, Pentecost. However, it is only in the last part of the fourth century that the Church limits the celebration of Pentecost to this day. Likewise, it is in this late period that the feast of the Ascension begins to be celebrated as a special feast. The emergence of these two feasts obscures a much more fundamental symbolic time, the whole of the Great Fifty Days.

Initially Easter Sunday was not considered as more important than all the other days but as the first of Fifty Days of rejoicing in the resurrection, the ascension, the bestowal of the Spirit, and the founding of the Church. These events were not understood as successive in linear time, but as all sharing in and part of the exaltation and triumph of Jesus as Lord (Phil 2.5-11). The Scripture readings of this liturgical season assume the Holy Spirit already active in the disciples and in the Church. They describe the early missionary movement of the apostles to "the ends of the earth" and some of the crucial decisions that the early Church faced. During the Fifty Days there was no fasting, nor did the faithful kneel at prayer. In addition, Alleluia was sung because it symbolized the unending day.

During the Fifty Days, the monastic community reads the Book of Revelation continuously at Morning Prayer. In this book we hear one great vision after another described. The reading and listening will be especially meaningful this year, knowing that Donald Jackson is beginning the scribing and illuminating of this final volume of The Saint John's Bible. As a community we will be regularly praying for the powerful, lively presence of the Spirit in the process of imagining, connecting, and creating this exciting stage of the work.

Historical Books Update

The last pages of Historical Books (6th volume) arrived on campus on March 20th. A sneak peek of the new illuminations can be seen on Facebook. The Saint John’s Bible staff is busy prepping the pages for printing.  We are hopeful to have the volume available for purchase in September.  Pre-order your copy today!

In This Issue

• The Gift of the Fifty Days

• Historical Books Update

• Upcoming Exhibitions & Events

See the Bible


Milwaukee Public Museum
Milwaukee, WI
January 22 - June 2010

Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN
March 12 - October 24, 2010

Print Exhibitions

Regis College
Weston, MA
March 11 - May 16, 2010

Scott County Historical Society
Shakopee, MN
April 20 - May 22, 2010

Find a gallery near you >

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Contact:The Saint John's Bible, Liturgical Press, Saint John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.654.0476 or 320.363.2213

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