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Proposed sale of the Codex Zacynthius

17 January 2014


From Mrs Katie Flanagan
Sir, - I write as Chair of the Historic Libraries Forum to express our grave concern about the proposed sale of the Codex Zacynthius (News, 3 January). Although there is a fund-raising campaign under way by Cambridge University Library to buy the Codex, there is no guarantee that this will be raised in time, and the risk is that the codex will be lost into private ownership.

The Bible Society's collections are an incredibly important resource for Bible scholarship. By their size and linguistic spread, they form what must be one of the most complete collections on this subject. Although individual items within the collection are valuable, such as the Codex Zacynthius, the value in collections such as this is in their whole, andit is vital that items are not removed.

We are concerned that this may be the tip of the iceberg, and that this proposed sale will be followed by further sales from the Society's treasures, thus depleting the collection further. Many items from the collection are deeply significant for the history of the Bible in this country, including rare early copies of Tyndale's translations and books with an early English provenance.

We note that the Society's disposal policy states that occasion-ally uncatalogued duplicate materials or items that are not a core part of the historic Bible collection are sold, and that the proceeds are used for the enhancement of the collection. The Codex Zacynthius and other manuscripts would appear to be a core part of the collection, and the proceeds are clearly not intended for use to enhance and care for the existing collections.

There is now a huge public appetite for historic manuscripts and the stories that they can tell. If they are removed from the public domain, they will be lost to the researchers of the future.

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