4 March 2008
To mark World Book Day 2008 on 6 March, the Bodleian Library is holding a one-day display featuring the Creation as recorded in three spectacular and historic manuscripts of the sacred books of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an.
For centuries, religion and the written word have been closely entwined and manuscripts have played a vital role in preserving and transmitting sacred knowledge. The importance and respect accorded to the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is shown in the way they were reverently copied and by the brilliance of their illumination and calligraphy, in the quality of parchment or paper on which they were written, and in their bindings. These texts were designed to be studied and read aloud to an audience of the faithful.
Judaism - The Kennicott Bible, copied in north-west Spain in 1476, is one of the treasures of the Bodleian Library. It was a chance acquisition, named after Benjamin Kennicott, biblical scholar and Radcliffe Librarian, who in 1771, when it was brought into the Library by a young man, recognized its importance and purchased it for 50 guineas.
Christianity - This manuscript is the first volume of a three-volume moralized Latin Bible produced in France in the second quarter of the 13th century. It was given to the Library by Sir Christopher Heydon in 1604; the other two volumes of the set are now in Paris and London.
Islam - This Qur’an is one of a large number of manuscripts purchased in Venice in 1817 by the Bodleian Library from the collection of the Jesuit Matteo Luigi Canonici. It was copied, probably in Cairo, in the year 766 of the Islamic era, which corresponds to 1364-5 AD.
Lesley Forbes, Keeper of Oriental Collections at the Bodleian Library said: ‘Mounting a special display for a public audience to mark World Book Day has become a tradition at the Bodleian Library. In 2008 we invite you to look at the story of the Creation as recorded in three of the Library’s particular treasures’.
Each year the Library celebrates World Book Day by exhibiting one of its great Treasures in the Divinity School, Old Bodleian Library. Past displays included: The Gutenberg Bible (2004), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the autograph manuscripts (2005), Shakespeare's first Folio (2006), The original Wind in the Willows: The Centenary of a Children's Masterpiece (2007).
Lunchtime talks will take place on the day between 13.15-13.45 in the Convocation House (entrance through the Divinity School). Guest speakers are Dr Norman Solomon, Professor Alister McGrath, and Professor Yahya Michot. The lectures can be downloaded from our BODcast library.
The display will be held on 6 March 2008 in the Divinity School, Bodleian Library. Opening hours: 10.00-17.00. Admission free.