Monday, 18 July 2011

Whose Bible is it anyway?

I am referring to the 1300 year old St Cuthbert's Bible which is shortly to be put up for sale and is expected to make a cool £9 million or so.

This bible, described as one of the world's most significant books, was produced in the 7th century and is Europe's oldest surviving tome. At one time called the Stoneyhurst Gospel it was buried alongside this great Saint in 698 AD until it was disinterred in 1104. Its condition is said to be very good, red leather bindings and all.

The Anglican Dean of Durham Cathedral, the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove states that (the red parts are my comments):

 "This wonderful book links us directly to the Saxon Christianity (ah, Saxon Christianity, not Roman Christianity!) of the North of England, and to the North's best-loved saint, (Um..what about the Venerable Bede?) Cuthbert himself.  Durham Cathedral owes its very existence to him, and we prize not only his memory, but also the treasures associated with him here at the Cathedral such as his pectoral cross and portable altar. (Yes, I bet you do matey!)

Now this Bible was crafted a good 400 years before the Reformation. England was a Catholic nation, Durham Cathedral (where the saint's coffin lay) was a Catholic Church. And back in the 7th century, St Cuthbert was a Catholic! So this beautiful book has got to belong to the Catholic Church right?

Wrong! CORRECTION ADDED AT 12.10 - it's not the C of E's it's ours! More detail at end of post.

Trouble is, I don't know who owns this valuable and holy item. I phoned Durham Cathedral but they don't know, I phoned some learned folk at Durham University and they don't know either.
My guess is, of course, the Church of England, you know, the one that came into being in the mid 16th century, long, long after St Cuthbert's Bible was produced.
So, by my reckoning, the Bible must belong to the Catholic Church and no one else!

£9 million would almost pay for another Papal visit!

Yes, would you believe (and fulsome apologies to the CoE) it belongs to us!   Well to the Jesuits to be more precise...but what are they doing by selling this relic?

What is the Society of Jesus going to spend £9 million on?

Don't answer that one!


  1. Spot on, Richard. It would be interesting and right that your view is echoed, or should I say proclaimed, in the higher echelons of the hierarchy in England. The 'right of ownership' of this Bible, has been falsely 'assumed' by the Church of England, a State organisation, since the Reformation, as were thousands of holy and valuable artefacts, not to mention Cathedrals, Abbeys, churches etc. Why are we so quiet about these injustices? In these days of corporate apologies and recompense for past injustices (real and imagined),the sale of St Cuthbert's
    Bible presents a wonderful opportunity for the established Church to show regret for past injustices by returning the Bible to the Catholic Church, or at the very least sharing the proceeds of the sale with the Catholic
    Church. This would certainly reflect a true 'ecumenical' spirit, combined with a desire to see justice done.

  2. Brian - I was belongs to the Jesuits!