The 75-lb. Codex Amiatinus is also the oldest surviving complete Bible in Latin.
The oldest surviving Bible written in Latin is a monster. The 75-lb. Codex Amiatinus, produced by Benedictine monks in Northumbria, England around 700, measures 19 ¼ inches high, 13 3/8 inches wide, and 7 inches thick.
Commissioned as one of three Bibles to be produced by the monks of the Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery, the Codex Amiatunus was meant be a gift to Pope Gregory II. It never made it to the pope, however, as the monastery’s abbot, Ceolfrith, died on his way to Rome in 716.
The big book later turned up in the 9th century, in the Abbey of the Savior on Mount Amiata in Tuscany, hence the name Amiatinus.
Now, after 1,302 years, the Codex Amiatinus is making its way back to England, as the highlight of an exhibition on Anglo-Saxon art, literature, science and politics at the British Library in London.
Dr. Clare Breay, the exhibit’s lead curator, told The Guardian that the term “once in a generation,” used in promotional materials for the show, doesn’t begin to describe the treasures found in the exhibition.
“It’s a phrase that’s sometimes overused, but I think in this case that’s absolutely true. In fact ‘once in a generation’ doesn’t really encompass it for a lot of the loans,” said Breay.