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Annotations Revealed in England’s 1535 Latin Bible

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lambeth Latin Bible LONDON, ENGLAND—Hidden annotations have been revealed in a copy of England’s first printed Bible, published in 1535. The book, now housed in the Lambeth Palace Library, is one of seven surviving copies. “At first, the Lambeth copy appeared completely ‘clean.’ But upon closer inspection I noticed that heavy paper had been pasted over blank parts of the book,” historian Eyal Poleg of Queen Mary University said in a press release. Graham Davis of Queen Mary University’s School of Dentistry, a specialist in 3-D X-ray imaging, took two images of the Bible’s pages. The first, taken with a light sheet between the pages, showed the annotations scrambled with the Latin text. The second image, taken without the sheet, showed only the printed text. Davis then removed the printed text from the images of the annotations with computer software that he created. The notes had been copied from the “Great Bible” of Thomas Cromwell, sometime between 1539 and 1549, and then covered with thick paper in 1600. “This Bible is a unique witness to a time when the conservative Latin and the reformist English were used together, showing the Reformation was a slow, complex, and gradual process,” Poleg explained. To read about the archaeology of medieval English churches, go to "Writing on the Church Wall."

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