Pictured above is a most unusual book that is documented as being over one thousand years old, yet without any form of decay or wear and tear. The book is an early edition of the gospel of St John, the last of the gospels in our New Testament of the Holy Bible. according to some expert scholars who have studied its contents.
How has this one copy of the gospel been able to survive after all these years and still be in a top-notch condition? That seems to be nothing short of a miracle. Below you will find an excerpt from the Economist, where this story was published earlier in this year.
“The real story is the object itself. The gospel was commissioned to honour St Cuthbert, a monk, hermit and then reluctant bishop of the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, whose life and miracles were set down by the Venerable Bede, an early medieval chronicler. Bede lived and worked on the mainland at Wearmouth-Jarrow, the monastery where the book is believed to have been made by a man trained in the tradition of Egyptian Coptic bookbinding and decoration. Shortly after Bede’s hero, Cuthbert, died in 687, the book was placed in his coffin.When the Vikings began raiding the north-east of England, the monks of Lindisfarne fled their island home with Cuthbert’s bones and wandered, like the Israelites in the desert, until they found sanctuary in Durham. In 1104 another chronicler, Simeon of Durham, records how Cuthbert’s coffin was opened in preparation for formal reinterment in a new church, the precursor of Durham cathedral. Cuthbert seemed not so much dead as sleeping, wrote Simeon. His limbs were flexible and his body “gave off a very pleasant odour”. By his head lay the book. Durham became a place of pilgrimage, and Cuthbert’s relics competed with those of the later Thomas à Becket in Canterbury.”
So there you have it: the story of the indestructible book of the gospel. Doesn’t it sound like a plot from an Indiana Jones movie? But this plot is as real as events get. It serves as a reminder that the gospels give an eye-witness account to a very real supernatural life in the form of the man Jesus Christ, who alone is eternal life.