August 2010 issue of The Saint John's Bible eNewsletter. Are images missing? View the online version.
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Summer is winding down and students will soon return to campus—buzzing like bees to get their dorms, classes and activities in order. We, too, have been busy getting the new books, cards and prints ready, designing our fall catalog (in the mail mid-September) and working with groups from all over the world who are interested in experiencing The Saint John's Bible. For all the latest information, keep reading this newsletter and/or join us on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great time to be part of this project and we are honored to have you part of the journey.


The word manuscript literally means "written by hand"—an all too human hand—and no matter how hard the human hand may try, it is bound to make an occasional mistake. When that mistake takes place on a page of a monumental manuscript—years in the making—it can't be fixed by simply clicking on "change" in spell check, nor is it a matter of tossing the page away and starting over. The ancient scribes seldom started over, and neither do the scribes of The Saint John's Bible.

When a 12th century scribe made a small error in the written text, the options were to ignore it, simply cross it out and continue writing, or use a knife to scratch away the mistake and polish the surface with a pumice stone. When a word or an entire line was accidentally left out, an artistic way of handling the omission had to be used. One method used by scribes indicated the placement of the missing line with a small sign of return or "signe-de-renvoi" placed in the margin.

This small graphic symbol, often quite humorous and decorative, would mark where the correction or insertion was to be made, and it would then be connected to the missing line at the bottom of the page.

In The Saint John's Bible, errors of omission are handled in much the same manner. Out of 1,150 hand-written pages, an omitted line has been discovered on only eight pages in the project so far—a remarkable achievement of accuracy for those all too human hands.

Bird sign of return from Gospels and Acts.

Each of the six scribes for The Saint John's Bible has accidentally left out a line, and in keeping with the tradition of their ancient counterparts, the scribes have chosen to handle their omissions with a bit of levity and beauty. Most commonly, a small bird has served as "place holder" and direction finder for the omitted lines in Pentateuch and Gospels and Acts. The beaks of these little birds point to where the line should be while a rope leading down to the missing line is held tightly in their talons. In Wisdom Books a delicate bee pulls the missing lines into place with the help of an accurate pulley system based on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. The most recent volume, Historical Books, boasts an agile lemur grasping onto vines that serve as place holder in the passage and then creep along the margin and wrap about the missing lines. No omissions have been discovered in either Psalms or Prophets.

Correction Bee from Wisdom Books.

While some may think these errors should be corrected and the pages redone, the folios with these wonderfully human "fingerprints" have become some of the most enjoyed and favorite pages of the project so far. As humans we need to embrace our fallibility, and the things we make should celebrate that reality as well.

Lemur holding missing line in Historical Books.

Exciting New Products Coming Soon!
by Connie Carlson

The summer has been busy here at Liturgical Press, the official publisher of The Saint John's Bible books, note cards, prints and other products. As most of you know, Historical Books will be here in mid-September and most people should be seeing their pre-ordered copies arriving shortly thereafter. Did you know that you can already order fine art prints and note cards? You can see the selection of images we are featuring on our website, including a new card folio that features 10 new images from Historical Books.

With the excitement of the first new Saint John's Bible volume in three years, it is easy to overlook the other pieces that are available or will be available this fall. For example, we partnered with Andrews McMeel Publishers to develop a new desk calendar that features a selection of illuminations for the first five volumes of The Saint John's Bible. It will only be available for a limited time so order your copies today!

Liturgical Press and The School of Theology are pleased to announce the fall launch of their program, Seeing The Word. This new program uses the illuminations from The Saint John's Bible in a formal process intended for parishes, diocese, faith formation groups and any person or group interested in enhancing their experience of the scripture. We wrote about it in our October, 2009 enewsletter: and piloted the program during the 2010 Lent season. More information is available by clicking here:

Keep reading this enewsletter and our Facebook page for advanced information on new products—there are several more in the works!
In This Issue

• Errors

• Exciting New Products   Coming Soon!

• Upcoming Exhibitions & Events

See the Bible


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

Print Exhibitions

Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center
Beech Grove, IN
August 5 - 29, 2010

Saint Charles Senior Living Community
Carthagena, OH
August 22 - September 10, 2010

Find a gallery near you >

Stay in touch

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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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