The Bible contained annotations from the 16th century Reformation. Image Credit: sxc.hu
A British historian has found hidden annotations within the pages of a Bible published back in 1535.
The 500-year-old book, which is one of only seven known surviving copies of England's first printed Bible, is kept at the library of Lambeth Palace - the Archbishop of Canterbury's residence in London.
"We know virtually nothing about this unique Bible – whose preface was written by Henry (VIII) himself – outside of the surviving copies," said historian Eyal Poleg of Queen Mary University.
"The challenge was how to uncover the annotations without damaging the book."
The solution, it turned out, was to take two images of each page - one with a light sheet behind and one without - before processing them using special software to reveal the hidden writing.
The annotations were found to contain material copied from the 'Great Bible' of Thomas Cromwell and were written during the 16th century Reformation - a period of significant upheaval in England which saw the Church of England separate from the Catholic Church in Rome.
"Until recently, it was widely assumed that the Reformation caused a complete break, a Rubicon moment when people stopped being Catholics and accepted Protestantism, rejected saints, and replaced Latin with English," said Poleg.
"This Bible is a unique witness to a time when the conservative Latin and the reformist English were used together, showing that the Reformation was a slow, complex, and gradual process."
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