This rare, miniature 1598 prayer book (Ashkenazi Rite) was used by medieval German-speaking Jews. It is part of an exhibit of early Muslim, Christian and Jewish texts at the British Library, London.
Several of the world’s earliest surviving texts of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths are being exhibited side by side for the first time in a major exhibition at the British Library in London.
The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco presided at the recent inauguration of “Sacred – Discover what we share” which runs, with free public admission, until Sept. 23.
Interactive audio-visual devices explain the history and ceremonies of the three monotheistic religions, and a program of colourful events on the library forecourt include gospel choirs and a performance by the whirling Dervish dancer Zia Azazi.
“We hope that this exhibition can make a significant contribution towards promoting better understanding of the three faiths,” curator Graham Shaw said. “We took the groundbreaking decision to display objects of the three religions side by side rather than in separate zones to show how they have interacted and influenced each other and how much they have in common.”
Among the oldest documents, he cited a Dead Sea Scroll fragment from AD 50, the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest surviving complete copy of the New Testament in Greek dating from the fourth century A.D. and the Ma’il Qur’an from the first century of the Muslim Hijri calendar (early eighth century A.D.) which was penned within 100 years of the flight of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.
Another rare item is the Syraic Pentateuch, the earliest known dated Biblical manuscript written by Deacon John at Amida in Turkey in A.D. 463, which comprises the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.