Monday, August 28, 2006

The Gospel's Free, but the Book's Gonna Cost You

From The Denver Channel:
A full-size reproduction of The Saint John's Bible will be available for pre-order beginning Sept. 1, for $115,000.

Orders placed after June 30, 2007, will cost another $15,000.

The Saint John's Bible is the first handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery since the printing press was invented.

It's scheduled to be completed by December 2008.

The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition will contain the same seven volumes as the handmade original, as well as an extra volume of commentary.

The original will be two feet tall and three feet wide and nearly 1,100 pages.

Only 360 reproductions will be available.

Each copy will be signed by Donald Jackson, the artistic director of The Saint John’s Bible.

Proceeds will help pay to preserve ancient Christian texts and create a permanent home for The Saint John's Bible.

Only $115,000? Maybe I’ll get two and keep one around for the next time I need to come up with a wedding present. Hopefully, it’s a better translation than the NAB or I wouldn’t pay $1.15 for it.

Something strikes me as just being a little off about this. I certainly applaud the proceeds going into text preservation, but using the money from purchase of the bible to make a home for the bible itself seems a wee bit circular. There’s certainly nothing wrong with producing an illuminated manuscript as great art, but is it really the function of a monastery to produce high-dollar bibles for wealthy collectors? It’s not like they’re actually going to read them. Or am I just being a whiny, cantankerous old coot? I have noticed that that last possibility becomes less and less theoretical with each passing year.

As a follow-on to this project, perhaps they might consider putting together a special Episcopal Mainline Protestant edition. It could be custom-illustrated with full-color portraits of Adam and Steve, of Jesus with Buddha and Krishna, of the great miracle where Jesus convinces 5000 people to share their lunches, and of the Resurrection Experience where the apostles come to realize that the dead Jesus can live on in their minds. Leave out the Deuterocanon, of course. Maybe replace Tobit with the Gospel of Judas.