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Two world-class libraries launch online archive of ancient Scriptures

Published 4:09 pm, Thursday, December 12, 2013

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  • This handout picture released by the Vatican press office on December 3, 2013 shows the cabinet prints at the Vatican library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana). The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library) have joined efforts in a landmark digitization project with the aim of opening up their repositories of ancient texts. Over the course of the next four years, 1.5 million pages from their remarkable collections will be made freely available online to researchers and to the general public.The website launched on December 3, 2013 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. 
RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BIBLIOTECA APOSTOLICA VATICANA " - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS-/AFP/Getty Images Photo: -, Handout / copyright© Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
    This handout picture released by the Vatican press office on December 3, 2013 shows the cabinet prints at the Vatican library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana). The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library) have joined efforts in a landmark digitization project with the aim of opening up their repositories of ancient texts. Over the course of the next four years, 1.5 million pages from their remarkable collections will be made freely available online to researchers and to the general public.The website launched on December 3, 2013 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. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BIBLIOTECA APOSTOLICA VATICANA " - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS-/AFP/Getty Images Photo: -, Handout

 

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CANTERBURY, England - Two of the world's great libraries - the Vatican Library in Rome and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University - have scanned and loaded the first of 1.5 million pages of ancient Hebrew, Greek and early Christian manuscripts online.

The project brings rare and priceless religious and cultural collections to a global audience for the first time in history.

The website is the first step in a four-year project, and it includes the Bodleian's 1455 Gutenberg Bible - one of only 50 surviving copies.

The $3.3 million project is funded by the Polonsky Foundation, which aims to democratize access to information. Leonard S. Polonsky is chairman of Hansard Global PLC, an international financial services company.

"We want everyone who can to see these manuscripts, these great works of humanity," Monsignor Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Library, told the Associated Press.

Apart from the two-volume Gutenberg Bible, there is an illustrated 11th-century Greek Bible and a 15th-century German Bible, hand-painted and illustrated by woodcuts.

The Vatican Library was founded in 1451, and it has 180,000 manuscripts; 1.6 million books; and 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings.

The Bodleian is the largest university library in England and contains more than 11 million printed works.