The British Library has purchased the 7th-century St. Cuthbert Gospel for $14.3 million (“British Library Buys,” AP, April 16, 2012). The palm-sized Latin gospel of John, bound in red leather, is the oldest European book to survive fully intact. It was found in Cuthbert’s coffin (d. 687) when it was opened in 1104 after being brought from the isle of Lindisfarne to protect it from Viking raiders. The St. Cuthbert Gospel will be displayed at the British Library’s John Ritblat Gallery next year. Already housed there is the 8th-century Lindisfarne Gospels, which features the earliest extant portion of Scripture in English. (The English is written above the Latin text of the four Gospels.) The size of the St. Cuthbert Gospel book (4x5 inches) and the simplicity of its binding and writing identifies it as a missionary Bible as opposed to large, ornate Catholic Bibles, such as the Lindisfarne. The Cuthbert Gospel was designed to read and to carry and to preach from as opposed to being put on display and “venerated.” Latin Bibles and Latin-based Bibles were used in England until the publication of the Tyndale New Testament in 1525. The first English Bible, the Wycliffe of 1380, was based on Latin and contained the textual errors common to Latin, such as the omission of “God” in 1 Timothy 3:16. We have documented many of these errors in The Glorious Heritage of the English Bible, an illustrated volume that is available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature, www.wayoflife.org. For more on the Bibles in the John Ritblat Gallery, see the free eBook In the Footsteps of Bible Translators, www.wayoflife.org.
(Friday Church News Notes, April 27, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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