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UK library acquires 7th-century gospel for $14 million

UK library acquires 7th-century gospel for $14 million | Medievalia | Scoop.it

LONDON (Reuters) - A seventh century gospel discovered in a saint's coffin more than 900 years ago, and the oldest European book to survive fully intact, has been acquired by the British Library for $14 million.

A lovely treasure kept in St.Cuthbert's tomb (he died in 698) to guide him to his afterlife. Fortunately, the book survived because the saint's caretakers moved his coffin in the early 12th century and found the copy of the Gospel of John inside.

The lovely quality of the book demonstrates the one real advantage of animal skins (parchment) has over paper: durability. It is easier to read this 7th century book than it is to read books published on cheap paper in the 1930s. And certainly the Gospel could survive anything written digitially in the last thirty-odd years.

What is also striking about the Gospel is the fact that the scribe took great care to separate words and lines almost into verses (the Bible verses people like to quote nowadays were first divvied up by fourteenth century Scholastic theologians). Such 'modern' layout of sentences and words (much like my computer is creating on this post as I put spaces between each word and paragraphs for each idea−such as they are) are usually understood to be a quality of post-Classical Latin and an aid to help those who had to acquire Latin as a foreign/second language.

Mostlatindocumentsranallthewordstogetherandleftthefluenttreadertounderstandwhenawordorsentenceended.Whichiswhyclassicallatinwasreadaloudeveninprivate.

Certainly Cuthbert's monastery in the far northeast of England would have understood Latin as a "foreign" language, but that they had developed this writing style/arrangement is striking, as it was not to become common in western Christendom until the late 8th/early 9th centuries.

Thankfully, the British Museum has purchased it to allow for public viewing and to give scholars to it via online high-resolution photos−a wonderful story of how the medieval and the modern comingle.

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Woman Faces Death Penalty For Witchcraft In Saudi Arabia

Woman Faces Death Penalty For Witchcraft In Saudi Arabia | Medievalia | Scoop.it

A Sri Lankan woman could be beheaded for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports that the woman was arrested for allegedly casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl.

Medieval justice for a medieval crime? Actually, medieval rulers, prelates, & lawyers were too intelligent to believe in witches in any meaningful/proactive sense. Most of our myths of witches comes from the two centuries after 1500.

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