Vatican and Bodleian libraries launch online archive of ancient religious texts

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the rarest and most fragile religious texts in the Vatican and Bodleian libraries, including ancient bibles and some of the oldest Hebrew manuscript and printed books, are being placed online in a joint project by the two great libraries, which will eventually create an online archive of 1.5m pages.

The website launched on Tuesday with funding from the Polonsky Foundation includes the first results of the four-year project, including the Bodleian's 1455 Gutenberg Bible, one of only 50 surviving copies of the first major book printed in the west with metal type.

The site will also host a growing collection of scholarly essays, and interviews with the Oxford and Vatican librarians, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said the digitisation was of huge international significance.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetBooksEducationHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeItaly

3 Comments
Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Wow.  Tremendous news for all of us interested in ancient Christian manuscripts.  Although there is no mention of it, among the things that I’ll be especially interested in is for some of the Vatican Library’s most valuable bliblical and liturgical documents to become available online, i.e., the famous biblical codex called “Vaticanus,” represented by the letter B in modern printed editions of the Greek OT and NT, and for the early Roman liturgical documents known as “sacramentaries” to be finally likewise available online, not least the famous “Gregorian,” “Leonine,” and above all the historic “Gelasian” sacramentaries.  This is a terrific advance for scholars around the world.

FWIW, a similar project is underway that is digitalizing the vast collection of ancient Greek manuscripts at St. Catherine’s (Greek Orthodox) Monastery on the traditional site of Mount Sinai.  That multi-year project is especially urgent as the precious Christian manuscripts in the library of St. Catherine’s are particularly vulnerable to destruction should Muslim militants ever attack and destroy that illustrious monastery, which is a very real danger.

David Handy+

December 3, 10:56 am | [comment link]
2. Charles52 wrote:

David Handy+,

If you are interested in that sort of thing, you might enjoy the New Liturgical Movement.  They do a lot of historical discussion.

It’s always amused me that the Vatican website includes a link to the “Vatican Secret Archives”.  Right there on the internet, it’s clearly real “secret”.

December 3, 11:57 am | [comment link]
3. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, Charles52. 

I’ll check it out, and I agree that it’s amusing that the “Secret Archives” are hidden in plain sight.  I appreciate the tip.

David Handy+

December 3, 5:11 pm | [comment link]
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