University of South Carolina

A selection of text from the newly acquired 13th-century Bible
A selection of text from the newly acquired 13th-century Bible.

Continued: Bible

Dean of Libraries Tom McNally says the Bible will enhance teaching and understanding of medieval history and manuscripts. The library has the largest collection of medieval manuscripts in the state.

“As we continue to build our teaching collection of medieval manuscripts, this was both a major acquisition and a statement of our commitment to the medieval collection,” McNally says. “In our region, only Chapel Hill, Duke, Emory and UVA have complete medieval Bibles, and none is of English origin.”

Gwara says USC acquired the Bible for several reasons.

“Simply put, the Bible is the most important book in the Western world,” Gwara said. “This one happens to be a fabulous teaching aid. Pocket Bibles are innovative. First produced around 1200, they enabled clergy to have the Bible in a single, portable volume. In England, traveling friars, from either the Dominican or Franciscan orders, would likely have carried a Bible such as this.”

Gwara says the medieval pocket Bible isn’t dissimilar from Bibles today.

“It still resembles our own modern Bible: thin pages like tissue paper, tiny handwriting and comprehensive chapter numbers,” Gwara says. “This English pocket Bible is an important, early, complete and unstudied manuscript. What’s more, it joins other excellent examples of early printed Bibles in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which provide greater context and understanding.”

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A biblical acquisition

  • What: Bible, created around the year 1240
  • Who: USC medievalist Scott Gwara organized the acquisition and secured the outside funding
  • Where: New Bible to join university's other medieval holdings in Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

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