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Priest refuses to skip the OT

11 October 2013

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Cleansing the Temple: Jesus drives out the traders in one of Gustav Doré's Bible illustrations

Cleansing the Temple: Jesus drives out the traders in one of Gustav Doré's Bible illustrations

A RETIRED priest has rescued a Victorian illustrated Bible from a skip after staff at a council waste-recycling site initially told him that he could not have it on health and safety grounds.

When the priest, the Revd Andrew Woodhouse, tried to pick up the leather-bound Old Testament from a mattress beside the skip at the tip at Leeming Bar, in North Yorkshire, a member of staff seized it.

"He told me it was dangerous," Mr Woodhouse said on Thursday of last week. "I asked: 'What the hell has health and safety got to do with it?' It wasn't in the skip, just resting on the edge. I was absolutely fuming. There was more danger of a health and safety incident if he'd dropped it on his toe."

Mr Woodhouse had already re- covered its companion New Testament from its owner, who was dumping both volumes and who told him where he had put the other one. "As I went to get it, this attendant grabbed it. I said the owner had told me I could have it, but he went to his shed and locked it in."

Still angry, Mr Woodhouse tipped off his local weekly paper, who ran a story. Soon after it appeared, he was contacted by an official from Hambledon Council who said he want to present him with the disputed Bible.

Mr Woodhouse suggested that it could go to St Gregory's, in Bedale near by, where he worships and occasionally ministers. It was only then that he researched the Bible on the web, and discovered that its 200 illustrations were by the French artist Gustave Doré.

Doré's work was popular in both Europe and the United States - more than 1.5 million people visited a Doré exhibition in Chicago in 1896 - and his style is said to have influenced early filmmakers such as D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. Scenes from DeMille's 1923 and 1956 versions of The Ten Commandments are said to resemble Doré's pictures.

"I'd never heard of him [Doré]," Mr Woodhouse said. "His books can be quite valuable, but the cover on one is badly damaged."

The Rector, the Revd Ian Robinson, plans to have it restored for use as a teaching aid for visiting school parties. "We tend to use the NRSV, but could occasionally use it in our Book of Common Prayer services.

"We didn't know it was a Doré Bible until we got it home; so Andrew wasn't saving it as a Doré Bible, just the word of God."

 

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