Foreword : Bible Collection

by His All Holiness Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome,
and Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I


I. The Power of Words: Any collection of manuscripts is a sacred and spiritual task. These texts not only originate in the past but also, especially in the case of religious literature, derive their source from the edge of the beyond. They constitute testaments not only of time but also of the spirit. Each discovery of a long-lost text helps push back the curtain of time as well as the veil of eternity. These are more than simply manuscripts. They are literary miracles, providing an immortal library, at once timeless and incorruptible.

II. The Sacredness of the Word: No other book has been more revered and copied than the sacred word of the Bible. The Bible is considered to have sacramental power, conveying divine grace to the reader and inviting the reader to a mystical encounter with the living God.

Through the centuries, the Scriptures have been meticulously copied and magnificently adorned in manuscripts. In the early Christian centuries, representatives of the monastic life would spend their lives preparing, copying and crafting these manuscripts in an artistic and respectful way, ensuring that the contents of the Bible would be preserved and transmitted for all time. Some of the most impressive manuscripts of Scripture have been kept in the libraries of monasteries to this day. Others have been acquired over time by libraries throughout the world. This present collection has gathered some of the finest and most valuable examples of the world of manuscripts.

III. The Schøyen Collection: Here the various manuscripts are masterfully presented, for the inspiration and delight of all. This collection is an endeavour of enlightenment, contributing generously to the resistance against the darkness of neglect and ignorance.

The texts preserved in this phenomenal collection are symbolical of "a bush that is burnt, yet no consumed" (Exodus 3.2) and of "a leaf that shall never wither" (Psalm 1). They confirm our faith in the originality and authenticity of the written word. We are, all of us in diverse ways, profoundly indebted to these manuscripts. In a strange – perhaps even a mystical way – we are, all of us, people of the book!