Written by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian
Second only to churches, libraries have perhaps inspired architects and builders to their greatest creative powers. Librarian of Congress James Billington has written that a book “should inspire a certain presumption of reverence,” and throughout history, great universities and cities have spared no effort to build libraries that would instill feelings of respect and reverence in their users.
WebUrbanist recently published interior photos of thirteen astonishingly beautiful historic libraries, dating from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Just as great churches are an earthly reflection of the glory of Heaven; these libraries are testimonies to the nobility of the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
To view the gallery, click here. If your architectural tastes run to concrete and glass rather than cut stone and polished wood, never fear: WebUrbanist also has another gallery with 14 Marvelous Modern Libraries.
The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest known surviving manuscript of the Bible. Copied by four scribes sometime between 325 and 360, the entire Bible is in Greek, the text of the Old Testament being the Septuagint. The manuscript takes its name from the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert, where it was discovered in 1844 by a German archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf who brought a portion of the manuscript to Leipzig University. He returned in 1853 for more. On his final trip to the monastery in 1859, Tischendorf took 694 pages of the Bible, which he brought to St. Petersburg, Russia. The precise terms under which Tischendorf executed these transfers are disputed. In 1933, the Soviet government, desperate for cash, sold the codex to Britain for £100,000. In 1975, an additional 12 pages and 40 fragments were found at St. Catherine’s.
The Codex Sinaiticus is now split between four owners:
- The British Library in London (347 pages).
- Leipzig University Library (43 pages).
- The Monastery of St. Catherine (12 pages and 14 fragments).
- The Russian National Library in St. Petersburg (fragments of 3 pages).