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World's Oldest Latin Bible Returned to Britain after 1300 Years


One of the greatest of all Anglo-Saxon treasures, the oldest complete Latin Bible in existence, is returning to the UK for the first time in 1,302 years.

The British Library announced it had secured its loan from the Laurentian library in Florence for a landmark exhibition in 2018 on the history, art, literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England.

The Codex Amiatinus is known as the earliest full volume manuscript of translations by Pious Jerome. It is a bright example of the Anglo-Saxon book art. The Codex Amiatinus is a beautifuly decorated and giant manuscript produced in Northumbria by pioneering monks in 716 which, on its completion, was taken to Italy as a gift for Pope Gregory II. Since the 16th century, all the reputable church and scientific publications of the Latin Bible are based on this very book. Since 1786 the Bible is kept in the Laurentian library in Florence. It is assumed that the manuscripts, which formed the basis of the Codex Amiatinus, were brought to England in 669. More kindly, it was created by the order of Ceolfrith, the abbot of Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery, who was going to present the manuscript to Pope Gregory II. In 716, Ceolfrith started a pilgrimage to Rome, but died before he reached the place. The codex itself got to San Salvatore Monastery on mount Amiata, which gave the manuscript its name. The text of the inscription was wiped out and written anew, which led to losing any traces of the English origin of the manuscript.



Bede the Venerable said in Vita Ceolfridi, that during that time three giant books of the complete Latin Bible were created in the monasteries of Wearmouth-Jarrow, one of which was likely to be the Codex Amiatinus. The remaining of the codex, found in 1882 in Newcastle upon Tyne, can serve as a prove of the words of Bede. It was a sheet with text, which was identified as a similar to the text from the Codex Amiatinus because it had the same format, the amount of lines and was written in the same uncial form. Now it is kept in the British Museum. In 1909 its text was published which let to find 11 more sheets with the text of Yeshua ben Sira. It was found out also that the second codex was kept in Worcester until the 16th century. After that, it fell into private hands and was almost destroyed. The fate of the third book is still unknown.  




The Bible is considered one of the most stupendous surviving treasures from Anglo-Saxon England but is not widely known about outside academic circles. “It is the earliest surviving complete Bible in Latin,” said Claire Breay, the library’s head of medieval manuscripts. “It has never been back to Britain in 1,302 years but it is coming back for this exhibition. It is very exciting.”

Source: http://pravoslavie.by/news/samaja-drevnjaja-v-mire-biblija-na-latyni-vozvrashaetsja-v-britaniju-cherez-1300-let


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