Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cambridge exhibition video

VIDEO: Lines of Thought: Communicating Faith.
Some of the world’s most important religious texts are currently on display in Cambridge as part of Cambridge University Library’s 600th anniversary exhibition – Lines of Thought: Discoveries that Changed the World.

As part of its 600th celebrations, the University Library has made a series of six films – one for each of the six themes explored in Lines of Thought – with the latest film: Communicating Faith taking a close look at some iconic religious treasures across all the major faiths including Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The oldest item in Communicating Faith is a text for prayer, the so-called Nash Papyrus. Dating from the second century before Christ, the fragments on display in Cambridge contain the Ten Commandments and until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was the oldest surviving manuscript of any part of the Hebrew Bible.

However, one of the oldest and perhaps the most valuable items in the Library’s collections – and perhaps one of the stars of Lines of Thought – is a recovered text called the Codex Zacynthius.

Codex Zacynthius is a parchment book where the leaves have been scraped and rewritten (a palimpsest). What they rewrote was an 11th or 12th century text from the gospels, but underneath it is a very early text of the gospel of St Luke. This very early undertext was first deciphered in the 19th century. It’s now possible, using modern imaging techniques, to get a much more precise image of what this book would have looked like when it was written in the 6th or 7th century. Work will continue on the codex when the exhibition comes to an end in September.

Past posts on the Nash Papyrus are here, here, here (this one also on the Cambridge exhibition), and links. Both layers of Codex Zacynthius are written in Greek. Past posts on palimpsests are collected here. Cross-file under Technology Watch. The Communicating Faith video is here: