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Curators' Choice

Interviews with British Library curators, and other experts, who talk in depth about highlight items from the Sacred exhibition


• Susan Whitfield on the Diamond Sutra

Susan Whitfield The Diamond Sutra of 868, discovered in a cave in Dunhuang, China, is a priceless illustrated record of early Buddhist teaching. It is the oldest dated printed book in the world: for early Buddhists, every copy produced of a sacred text meant more good karma. Susan Whitfield of the Dunhuang Project talks about this fantastic artefact
Audio and transcript

• Scot McKendrick on Codex Sinaiticus

Scot McKendrick The world's 'oldest complete Bible' is more than 'merely' a priceless third-century text. It is also, as the British Library's Head of Western Manuscripts Scot McKendrick explains, a record of how the Biblical text evolved over centuries, as well as a book of unique emotional and spiritual significance to many people
Audio and transcript

• Alison Ohta on Sultan Baybars' Qur'an

Alison Ohta An awe-inspiring Qur'an written entirely in gold, illustrated by a eunuch, and commissioned by a Sultan who ruled for just a year before being executed... Royal Asiatic Society curator Alison Ohta tells the extraordinary history behind an extraordinary sacred text
Audio and transcript

• William Dalrymple on Bahadur Shah Zafar

William Dalrymple The wedding certificate of Bahadur Shah II is one of our most intriguing sacred texts. The last of the Mughal kings, deemed a fine poet but a political failure, he died in obscurity and despair. But as his recent biographer William Dalrymple explains, his reputation is due for reappraisal
Audio and transcript

• Vrej Nersessian on the Awag Vank' Gospels

Dr Vrej Nersessian Some texts are even more than the relationship between the mortal and the divine. This one chronicles a nation too – Armenia, the world's first Christian country – in a unique script virtually unchanged since its invention 1600 years ago. British Library curator Dr Vrej Nersessian explains
Audio and transcript

• Moira Goff on the Tyndale New Testament

Moira GoffMoira Goff, head of British Collections 1501-1800, has a great affection for the pocket-sized printed book that caused decades of controversy and intrigue, and she reveals its links with Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Shakespeare and Handel
Audio and transcript

• Juan Garcés on Codex Sinaiticus

Image of Juan GarcésDr Juan Garcés, Curator for the Codex Sinaiticus Project at the British Library, talks about the curious past and exciting future of this remarkable manuscript: one of the oldest two complete Bibles in existence, possibly commissioned by Constantine in the fifth century as a 'master copy' for all Bibles
Audio and transcript

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Sacred contexts