Earlier this week, we introduced a new series showcasing some of the latest research in digital biblical studies showcased recently at a major conference in Denver.
CODEC’s direction, Dr Pete Phillips, presented this year on “The St Cuthbert Bible Bible: Exploring a Text in Material, Digital, and Replica Form.” The audience was encouraged to consider the hermeneutical differences in viewing the original manuscript, the online edition, and a printed facsimile which he allowed to be passed around (pictured above and below).
Dr Phillips introduces the St Cuthbert as follows:
The St Cuthbert Gospel (formerly known as the Stonyhurst Bible) is the oldest intact European book, dating from the early 8th century CE. The original Gospel is part of the British Library’s collection, having been purchased from the Jesuit Mission in Britain in 2012 for £9million. The British Library has digitised the manuscript and the digital format can be reviewed at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_89000_fs001r. Replicas of the Gospel are now readily available both in gift shops in Durham Cathedral and the British Museum and also online. The book contains the text of the Gospel of John.
This paper explores the three instantiations of the Gospel and compares the opportunities, benefits and limitations of each version, as well as looking at the technological affordances of each instantiation. Of particular interest will be the differences between digital and material instantiations and also between the two material instantiations – is the replica a good research tool. Moreover comments will be made about the potential benefits of using material replicas for academic research over against digitised originals. The digitisation of manuscripts is a major academic industry, which has led to an important increase in first class research in what those manuscripts reveal. However, there is an increasing conversation about where we go next with digitisation and of the potential limitations in terms of durability and longevity for these academic projects. This paper will explore whether material replicas, either printed on traditional tech or through 3D printing, might provide a more durable research tool for academics.