Rediscovering Religious Texts

Radiocarbon dating recently identified a manuscript in the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library as possibly the world's oldest fragment of the Qur’an, showing it to be at least 1,370 years old and attracting unprecedented international interest.

Similarly, the earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels was rediscovered in a manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library after being lost for 1,500 years and published for the first time last year with an English translation. How are such texts identified, authenticated and catalogued? What measures are taken to preserve them and make them available for scholarly research and public interest? What are the cutting edge technologies being used to analyse, protect and recover key historical documents?

Dr Hugh Houghton is Reader in New Testament Textual Scholarship, and Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham.

Susan Worrall is Director of Special Collections at the University of Birmingham.

Sarah Kilroy is Head of Conservation and Programming at the University of Birmingham.

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