Silver Bible added to Memory of the World Register
Sweden's most precious book, the Silver Bible in Uppsala has been added to Memory of the World Register by Unesco.
The Bible, which is Sweden’s most precious book and one of the world’s most famous manuscripts, was written in Italy in the early 6th century. The World Register, which now comprises 238 objects, includes all types of materials, such as stone, celluloid, parchment, audio recordings and much more. By helping to protect and display such a diverse archive, Unesco’s Memory of the World program aspires to bolster the creative riches and diversity of human cultures and societies. “We are delighted and proud to be on the Memory of the World Register,” says Ulf Göranson, chief librarian at Uppsala University Library. “This is in recognition of the fact that our foremost medieval treasure is deserving of special protection.”
The Silver Bible was probably copied in Ravenna, Italy, in the early 6th century. It is written on thin purple parchment in gold and silver ink. The silver writing dominates, prompting the name “Silver Book,” "codex argenteus" in Latin. It was presumably originally bound in a deluxe edition adorned with pearls and precious stones. The Silver Bible is one of the oldest and most extensive of all preserved documents in the Gothic language. The writing area on each page evinces measurements that correspond to the Golden Section, that is, the height relates to the breadth in the same way the sum of the height and breadth relates to the height. The four arches at the bottom of each page are canonical tables, one for each evangelist. They constitute a cross-reference system for biblical passages in the Gospels.
The Silver Bible has been added to the Memory of the World Register. It was known in the 16th century, when it was kept in a Benedictine monastery in Werden, Germany. Before 1600 it came into the possession of Emperor Rudolph II and was held in Prague when Swedish troops invaded the city in 1648. As Swedish war booty it was incorporated into the library of Queen Christina. Following the abdication of the queen, it fell to her librarian, Isaac Vossius, who took it to Holland. From there it was purchased by Chancellor of the Realm (and University Chancellor) Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, who donated it to Uppsala University in 1669.