An extremely rare version of the Bible, called the Bishop's Bible and printed more than 400 years ago, has been discovered and salvaged in England before it could be thrown out.
"It was rotting away in a cupboard, the wooden and leather covers covered in beetles. The pages were like blotting paper and didn't smell too good," Arthur Brooks, a church reader at St James' Church in Teignmouth told the Telegraph. The book was apparently about to be thrown out by the church, before Brooks recognized its significance and potential value.
The Bishop's Bible, only 70 copies of which are said to have been produced, was first printed in 1568 by the Church of England during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, only 30 years after the Church of England separated from the Vatican and established its own authority.
In 1561, Archbishop Parker, the head of the Church of England at the time, submitted a proposal for a new Bible translation, which Queen Elizabeth I approved. A group of bishops were charged with the ambitious task of translating the Christian holy book into English. It was said to be different from the Geneva Bible, another historically significant translation published in 1560, because it tried to steer clear of the Calvinist tone present in the latter.
The Bishop's Bible did not survive as the official text for the Church of England for long, but it served as the base text for the more famous King James Bible published in 1611, revised versions of which are still used in churches today.
In Nov. 2011, Queen Elizabeth II, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, and Anglicans from around the world celebrated the 400-year anniversary of the King James Bible, which has been called the "DNA of the English language."
"The temptation is always there for the modern translator to look for strategies that make the text more accessible and when that temptation comes, it doesn't hurt to turn for a moment… to this extraordinary text,'' Dr. Williams said of the significance of the King James Bible.
The Bishop's Bible discovered recently at St James' Church in Teignmouth is said to have been printed by London firm Charles Barker in 1591, and has been cleaned and restored by experts at Exeter Museum.
If sold at auction, the Telegraph notes, the Bishop's Bible could be worth around $16,000, but it has not yet been decided if this copy will be sold.