Complex image analysis has revealed hidden annotations embedded in a 500-year-old Latin Bible — messages that shed light on "secrets of the Reformation," according to Queen Mary University of London.
Dr. Eyal Poleg, a historian at the university, located the concealed text within the pages of England's oldest and first printed Bible that is currently housed in Lambeth Palace Library and was published in 1535 under Henry VIII.
Poleg, who said that not much was known about the "unique Bible," explained the fascinating findings.
"At first, the Lambeth copy first appeared completely ‘clean,'" the historian said in a statement announcing the secret text. "But upon closer inspection I noticed that heavy paper had been pasted over blank parts of the book."
Historian uncovers secrets of the Reformation hidden in England’s oldest printed bible https://t.co/zHWN1aLkk6 https://t.co/uzWraOjm4y— Queen Mary University of London (@Queen Mary University of London)1458146129.0
From there, Poleg was tasked with figuring out how to see the secretive annotations without causing damage to the book — a feat that was undertaken with help from Dr. Graham Davis, a 3D X-ray specialist at the university's dentistry school.
The researchers used a light sheet under the pages and "took two images in long exposure — one with the light sheet on and one with it off," according to a statement from Queen Mary University. What resulted were two different images: one that featured the annotations along with the printed text in the Bible and another that showed only the printed biblical text.
From there, the researchers created a software that would remove the printed text so that the annotations would be made clear for them to read and analyze. The annotations include text that was copied from the "Great Bible," which was written in English.
"The annotations are copied from the famous ‘Great Bible’ of Thomas Cromwell, seen as the epitome of the English Reformation. Written between 1539 and 1549, they were covered and disguised with thick paper in 1600," the statement explains. "They remained hidden until their discovery this year."
Poleg believes that the findings offer up some intriguing insight about the Reformation.
"Until recently, it was widely assumed that the Reformation caused a complete break, a Rubicon moment when people stopped being Catholics and accepted Protestantism, rejected saints, and replaced Latin with English," he explained. "This Bible is a unique witness to a time when the conservative Latin and the reformist English were used together, showing that the Reformation was a slow, complex, and gradual process."
Read more about the finding here.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
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