challenge (our Sistine Chapel), a daunting task."
It is appropriate that St Johns Benedictine Abbey, who have a 1500 year association with manuscripts (they still have significant holdings) should acquiesce to Jackson's wishes, and they formally commissioned the project in 1998/1999. Using calf vellum, handmade inks with quill and gilding and silver inlay work, Jackson began the monumental task with: "In the beginning was the word.." in March 2000.
By May 2005, 4 of the 7 volumes had been completed. They measure some 16 x 25 inches and will number about 1100 pages when finished. There will be 160 illuminations whose content have been worked out by a team - "It is up to a committee of artists, medievalists, theologians, biblical scholars and art historians to create these theological stories for Donald Jackson, the artistic director of The Saint John’s Bible."
They are not completely shunning modernity: "A computer is used to size text and define line breaks. These pages are laid out in full size spreads with sketches in position. Artists use these layouts to guide their work."
Astonishing. The Saint Johns Bible website have all the facts and media coverage and images of manuscript pages (with watermarks over larger jpegs) and you can even buy regular book copies of the completed volumes. [Thanks to Ars Theologica]