News ID: 125508
Published: 0153 GMT August 27, 2015

British Library to lend oldest Bible for British Museum exhibition

British Library to lend oldest Bible for British Museum exhibition

The world’s oldest Bible will be put on display during the British Museum exhibition slated from October to February.

The Codex Sinaiticus or ‘Sinai Bible’ is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. The British Library which is the sole possessor of this celebrated historical treasure has agreed to lend the book to the British Museum for the exhibition, Egypt after the Pharaohs.

The exhibition intends to explore Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith in Egypt after the Pharaohs. The First Gaster Bible, also from the British Library as well as a masterpiece of the Qur’an from the Bodleian Library in Oxford will be displayed alongside the Codex.

The exhibition will highlight changes in ancient Egyptian society especially its transition from polytheism to monotheism that shaped the modern world we know today.

The Codex was lent once, also to the British Museum, in 1990 when the two bodies were sharing the same complex. “It is quite phenomenal they are able to lend it to us, we are absolutely thrilled,” Elisabeth O’Connell, assistant keeper in the British Museum’s department of ancient Egypt and Sudan said.

The codex, which contains the earliest complete manuscript of the New Testament, was written sometime in the 4th century AD, probably soon after the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great.

The Soviet government under Joseph Stalin, which was in desperate need of money, sold this historical treasure to Britain in 1933.  Then British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald took personal interest and more than half the £100,000 cost was reportedly raised by public subscription.

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