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Secret Notes Discovered in Reformation-era Bible

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Mar 18
  • Comments

Secret notes have been discovered in a 500-year-old Reformation-era Bible. reports that a historian discovered the secret notes in the Latin Bible, which was published in 1535 under the direction of Henry VIII. The Bible is England’s first printed Bible, and one of only seven surviving copies of its kind.


“We know virtually nothing about this unique Bible – whose preface was written by Henry himself – outside of the surviving copies,” said Eyal Poleg, a historian at Queen Mary University of London, in a press release.


However, historians were able to learn about the secret annotations found inside the Bible.


On closely inspecting the Bible, historians noticed heavy paper had been pasted over some of the Bible’s blank parts. 


“The challenge was how to uncover the annotations without damaging the book,” explained Poleg.


The historians were eventually able to read the notes through the process of having a specialist in 3D x-ray imaging place light sheets beneath the pages.


Even once the annotations could be seen, however, they had to be separated from the text below them. Graham Davis, the x-ray specialist, had to write a piece of software to take away the printed text so that the annotations could be seen separately.


“The annotations are copied from the famous ‘Great Bible’ of Thomas Cromwell, seen as the epitome of the English Reformation,” explained the university in its press release. “Written between 1539 and 1549, they were covered and disguised with thick paper in 1600.”


The reason for the need to hide the annotations was due to the Protestant Reformation which was taking place in England at the time, and centered around Henry VIII's decree that the English Church would separate from the Roman Catholic Church.


The secretness of the notes suggest that it took a significant amount of time for English society to catch up with Henry’s decree, and that England did not become a Protestant nation overnight.


To read more about the story behind the Bible and its secret notes, click here



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Publication date: March 18, 2016