Sacred Exhibition: Blog cuttings
According to Google, over 1,200 blog (online diary) entries reviewed personal visits to the British Library's Sacred exhibition, which ran from 27 April–23 September 2007. The overwhelming majority, whether from the devout or atheist, were entirely positive. Below is a small representative selection of 50 or so extracts.
To see a more detailed list of blogs mentioning the exhibition, generated by Google's blog search, click here.
• " 'Ditch what you're doing and go' [I was told]... Turns out I wasn't the only person leaving it until the last minute to visit the exhibition... Highlights for me included a 700-year-old Samaritan Sefer Torah... a thousand-year-old Karaite chumash, in Hebrew written in Arabic letters... some really dinky micrography... a Christian psalter featuring a really most unexpected portrayal of King David... There was lots of other cool stuff there too, including the Lindisfarne Gospels..."
Lethargic Man, 24 September 2007
• "I nearly missed it; the exhibition closes at the weekend. I'm glad I didn't, as it was extraordinary... the selection is seriously impressive...
"Staggeringly, with a very few exceptions like the Dead Sea Scroll, all these books were part of their own collection. It's odd to think of all these books, culturally interconnected but originally separated by many centuries and thousands of miles, having made their way, by who knows what means, from monasteries and mosques in Syria, Armenia, Ethiopia, India; and all ending up in a basement in North London...
"Whatever my disagreements with religion, I do feel a reverential instinct towards ancient artefacts and books, so I had no difficulty feeling a sense of the sacred. And many of them are extraordinary objects in their own right. I have a new-found passion for Syriac script...
"I have to say, generally, kudos to the British Library; all the exhibitions I've seen there have been excellent (and free)..."
Heraclitean Fire, 19 September 2007
• "Seeing the beauty of texts hundreds (and in some cases a thousand!) years old is amazing..."
Rob, 18 September 2007
• "It was pretty awesome and now I feel all the time surer I want to study Comparative Religion as my major in the Faculty of Theology..."
Lähettänyt Milla, 17 September 2007
• "I never thought that I would find examining illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages to be so rewarding..."
Joshua, 16 September 2007
• "Amazing... beautiful mediaeval manuscripts with colour and gilding that seemed quite fresh..."
Ruth's reflections, 12 September 2007
• "A fantastic exhibit ..."
Diane, 9 September 2007
• "It was brilliant! I had never been there before, and was very taken with it... Amazing stuff, and it's free!..."
Nellie, 8 September 2007
• "The similar styles only served to command the power of faith: Copts surviving in Islam, Jews thriving in Christian Europe and Ethiopia maintaining a tradition of Christianity unique to itself..."
Philip Chaston, 3 September 2007
• "Wonderful and fascinating..."
Elizabeth, 3 September 2007
• "Could barely control my heart palpitations at the sight of so many ancient and beautiful crumbly books. The intricate illustrations and text on the old Bibles and such are amazing. Could have looked at them all day long..."
Expats in London, 3 September 2007
• "It's almost impossible to make a selection from the riches – but I'll try, with three books just as examples of the many treasures there: beautiful naturalistic illustrations in the Golden Haggadah, a Jewish Genesis from about 1320; Sultan Baybars' Qur'an, made in Cairo in 1304-06, magnificent, rich and golden, yet clear, restrained and elegant at the same time; and the Lindisfarne Gospels, an Anglo-Saxon masterpiece from the late 7th or early 8th century..."
Terence Jagger, 1 September 2007
• "Was great to see all the different books and read about their history. I'm really interested in the physical language and writing used in Biblical texts, so it was fascinating to see the development of that..."
Vicki Adams, 31 August 2007
• "ultra fancy... i saw lots of really cool old jewish, christian, and islamic texts..."
Becca, 29 August 2007
• "A sense of touching history... for me God shines through the simplicity of the Kufic Moroccan Qu'ran in a way that is out of this world... the Islamic prohibition on the use of images has lent a kind of purity to the visual, that is not quite present in either my own Christian tradition, or the Jewish texts..."
Michael Radcliffe, 29 August 2007
• "Blew me away. The Sacred collection defies description..."
Larry, 27 August 2007
• "The books were amazing... Illuminated and carpet pages were so detailed and ornate... I loved it so much. I wish to have spent more time there..."
Shrick55, 26 August 2007
• "The entire thing was just amazing... I was very fascinated not only to see the first English Bible ever translated, but Wycliff's New Testament, Henry VIII's Great Bible, and an original 1611 King James Authorised Bible. Oh, and I should tell you that I took one of those double-decker buses to the museum and yes, I sat on top. That was an experience in and of itself..."
Ryan, 24 August 2007
• "I could have spent an entire day looking at the range – through time and subject... It was a whole different kind of sacred..."
WanderingJew, 19 August 2007
• "Remarkably well-presented..."
Fuchsoid, 15 August 2007
• "The things that I found most fascinating were the amulets, consisting of tiny Qur'ans in filigree boxes or small scraps of prayer; illustrated scrolls, particularly the book of Esther; and scraps of papyrus from the Dead Sea Scrolls..."
Maggie Grey, 12 August 2007
• "I especially liked seeing King David depicted as Henry VIII..."
Richard, 9 August 2007
• "The old scrolls, texts and prayer books written in Hebrew mainly captivated my attention. Having studied Hebrew for many years it was really fascinating to be able to read these ancient texts... In addition, I was very interested in the space design of the exhibit, along with the audio architecture... "
Laurel Sargent, 7 August 2007
• "Having the opportunity to stand right in front of the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus... was a highlight for me, although my knowledge of Koine Greek has deteriorated to a such a point that I couldn't actually make any sense of the text...."
Prickliest Pear, 2 August 2007
• "My friends will be both shocked and proud to learn I went to a library today; yes on purpose... The exhibition was excellent. The range of collection of books was fantastic... It really does bring a new dimension to one's faith... Amazing is all I can say...."
Nathan James, 3 August 2007
• "I was captivated! So much so that I didn't see those stairs at the end. Yeah. Fell down six stairs. Way to make a graceful entrance. So typically me... I thought the exhibit was - to use the English vernacular - brilliant... It was very interesting and really helped me see the other faiths a little clearer..."
Jessica G, 27 July 2007
• "It looks interesting even for an atheist like me..."
Sally Wilton, 20 July 2007
• "Conspiracy theorists and fans of The Da Vinci Code will be pleased to know that some of the 'lost gospels' are also on display, including a 3rd century Gospel of Thomas and the Wisdom of Sophia..."
Matt Page, 11 July 2007
• "In an age when religious fundamentalism is prominent and beliefs seem to divide rather than create bridges of understanding... [this exhibition is] one attempt to break down some of the barriers that divide religions from one another... "
Rabbi Robert Barr, 11 July 2007
(audio file; one of three podcasts about exhibition)
• "Incredibly well put together - the curators developed a gentle spatial flow and mellow/cool lighting design that creates a sacred space for the exhibit itself..."
Trowsers, 10 July 2007
• "Ohhh. *drool*... It was super fantastic. I've never really been one for comparative religion but I simply loved this exhibition."
Ichaya, 30 June 2007
• "I never thought the old ancient text are either very BIG or very SMALL... most of them are not the 'normal' size of a book that we see today...I wonder if 'ancient' people have super good or super poor eyesight! If u know why, let me know..."
Margaret, 25 June 2007
• "This exhibit seems like it should be required of every citizen right now... It was beautiful as well and this would easily engage the most resistant visitor. Bailey loved getting to see three wedding dresses, one from each faith. "
Karen Storm, 23 June 2007
• "Today was such a learning experience, one of the best days visit wise so far. Went to the Sacred exhibition at the British Library. Some of the old Jewish texts and Torahs gave me chills. I bought the book..."
Jillian, 11 Jun 2007
• "All in all a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, even though I got soaked in the rain and walked around the exhibition barefoot, carrying my soggy shoes in my hand : ) ..."
Nivi's Adventures, 16 Jun 2007
• "As we still had time to spare before our train home we stopped off at the British Library where we were blown away by the exhibition they had running.... It was a brilliant example of how much we have in common with people of other beliefs, and I was very moved by the way it had all been put together. The texts are treated with great reverence and I was very aware of the presence of God as I walked through the exhibits... We stayed until closing time..."
The Durham Diaries, 12 Jun 2007
• "I was very enthusiastic about this exhibition as Jewish religious texts are an integral part of my academic life... The things that I was most excited about were a Dead Sea Scroll... and a Walton Polyglot. It's truly spectacular. I was having lots of fun trying to read the various languages... It is definitely worth seeing, and is aimed at everyone, not just academic types..."
Antediluvian Crafts, 23 May 2007
• "The exhibition was simply awesome. Beautiful old scriptures. Quran from all over the world. In the different scripts - kufic, thuluth and naskhi. Some of the Qurans are illuminated beautifully too from the various countries in their own unique styles. The exhibition was really moving – from the sombre and atmosphere laden with an enlightening heaviness to the soothing music inside. I was so moved that I cried. It was just a beautiful, beautiful exhibition..."
Amben ku, 23 May 2007
• "It's hard to believe I was in London yesterday, and even harder to believe I was in Beirut only Monday... Such treasures of bookbinding, calligraphy and text illumination, it makes you want to cry.... I was frantic with enthusiasm over a large interactive screen where I could turn the pages of the three most beautiful sacred books known and zoom in on each detail for a full commentary. How I wish the Prof could have seen this!..."
Cedarseed, 19 May 2007
• "I found it interesting, Dan endured it and Tilly just wanted to lick the glass cabinets and sneakily managed to pull the hair of an old lady as we walked past – all in all a v successful day out!"
Nancy, Dan & Mathilda, 8 May 2007
• "Joining the throng of visitors who flocked to the British Library to view Sacred, the exhibit currently being buzzed about in the British press, I was pleased to see men in yarmulkas, women in veils and others...and lots of families with their children... As far as I'm concerned it succeeded, and reaffirmed my long-held belief that all religions are one and the same... One of the most fascinating exhibits is an ancient Gospel written in Arabic whose opening verse reads In the name of Allah.... Incredible but true. I wonder how our reactionary religious fundamentalists can spin this? And will the Metropolitan Museum or the New York Public Library ever have the intellectual courage, and brave the public's prejudices to mount a similar exhibition in New York City?"
Tewfic el-Sawy, 7 May 2007
• In the above entries, typing errors have been corrected and spellings standardised, but we have tried to preserve each correspondent's individual voice
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