The World's Most Expensive Bible at $130,000 a copy from St. John's in Minnesota

Partly it's because it's handiwork by calligraphers and artists, and partly because it is a fantastic fund raising device, St. John's University is offering copies of their Bible at the discount price of $115,000. But you have to hurry. The Star Tribune reported in 2006:
Some colleges woo supporters with tailgate parties, others with exotic trips. St. John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn., is offering alumni and friends the chance to buy a really big Bible for $115,000. That's the price for orders placed before July 1, 2007. After that the tab jumps to $130,000.

If all of the Bibles sell at the introductory price, they would bring in $41.4 million, minus expenses.

At next year's rate, the school would realize $46.8 million before costs.

While some book experts think the price is steep, St. John's officials are confident that their seven-volume, leather-bound Bible will prove popular.

"We're charting unknown territory to a certain extent, because this is an extremely large set of books, but the response has been wonderful," said Craig Bruner, director of the Heritage Edition, as the college is calling its special book.

The first volume won't be available until 2008, Bruner said, but since August, when the Bible went on sale, 13 sets have been reserved.

St. John's plans to publish just 360 Heritage Bibles, all facsimiles of its original St. John's Bible, a monumental tome that a team of calligraphers is hand-lettering and illustrating. The St. John's Bible is a $4.5 million project the school began in 1998 under the direction of British calligrapher Donald Jackson. He and his 14-member team are producing just one copy of the Bible, which will be housed at St. John's, about 75 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

The Heritage edition will attempt to replicate the 1,150-page, 2-foot-tall original as closely as possible but without the handwork, gold leaf, jeweled inks and rare materials that make the original so costly.
The quite attractive web site for the bible project is here.

Sadly, the man who commissioned the bible and who served as president of St. John's, Brother Dietrich Reinhart, passed away on Monday (12-29-08) after a bout with cancer.

[Reposted and updated from 2006]

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