Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2228  |  E-mail    |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

Pope Benedict receives handwritten St. John's NRSV Bible

Vatican City, April 7, 2008 – An elegantly hand-lettered edition of the New Revised Standard Version St. John's Bible was presented to Pope Benedict XVI Friday.

The New Revised Standard Version was translated under the auspices of the National Council of Churches USA, which owns the copyright.

The St. John's Bible, a $4 million project funded by private donations, was commissioned by St. John's Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Collegeville, Minn. The calligrapher is British artist Donald Jackson.

The Pope received a copy of the Wisdom Books. The 1,150 page, 7 volume edition of the entire Bible, measuring 3 feet wide when opened, will be completed in four years.

The NRSV was chosen as the translation because it is widely regarded as theologically sound and is used by most major Christian churches.

Persons who observed the presentation noted the pontiff's obvious pleasure at seeing the volume.

"The pope's eyes lit up with joy and enthusiasm as he turned the pages," Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C. , told the Associated Press.

The pope described the Bible as "a work for eternity," words that thrilled the calligrapher who attended the presentation. "He expressed what I feel a lot of the time," Donald Jackson said.

The original manuscript of the new Bible is stored in special cases in a vault in the neighboring St. John's University run by the Benedictines.

While the more elaborate reproductions of the new Bible can cost over $100,000, pocket editions are already available at $70 a volume.

For more information about the St. John's Bible, and other product information, see

Photo credit: L’Osservatore Romano

NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228,

Return to NCC Home Page