3d--Other Books in Manuscript
This se-tenant pair is a joint issue with Hungary that
appeared on 30 September 2003. The Rituals of Zhou (on the
left), written sometime during the Warring States Period of
Chinese history (475-221 B.C.E.), is one of the six classics
of Chinese literature. Influenced by both legalist and
Confucian ideas, the Rituals of Zhou includes a general
discussion of government in the section titled “Offices of
Heaven,” education is considered under “Offices of Earth,”
social and religious institutions under “Offices of Spring,”
the army under “Offices of Summer,” justice under “Offices
of Autumn,” and population, territory, and agriculture under
“Offices of Winter.” The work is considered by modern
scholars to have been an anonymous utopian “constitution”
written perhaps about 300 B.C.E. (People’s Republic of
China, Scott #3309).
The book depicted on the stamp to the right is The Hungarian
Illuminated Chronicle (Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum) of 1473
the first book printed in Hungary (see section 10g).
The Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine is
depicted on this stamp issued on 22 January 2004. The
monastery stands in a small gorge at the foot of Mount
Horeb (Jebel Musa) in the wilderness of Sinai. According
to the Hebrew Bible, this is where Moses received the
Ten Commandments. Founded in the 6th century, St.
Catherine’s is one of the oldest Christian monasteries
in continuous use. It was built by order of the Byzantine
Emperor Justinian I between 527 C.E. and 565 C.E., to
safeguard and protect the gathering of monks and
hermits living in nearby caves and huts. Today St.
Catherine's holds the second largest collection of
illuminated manuscripts in the world, second only to the
Vatican Libraries, some 3,500 volumes in Greek, Coptic,
Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Slavic, Syriac, Georgian, and
other languages. The library also holds a significant
collection of printed books, many from the 15th century.
About 1850, the Codex Sinaiticus, a landmark in the
history of the book, was discovered here by the German
biblical scholar Constantine Tischendorf. Produced in
the middle of the 4th century, the Codex is one of the
two earliest extant Bibles (the other being the Codex
Vaticanus in Rome). It includes the earliest surviving
copy of the complete New Testament, along with the
earliest versions of several books in the Hebrew Bible.
During three separate visits to St. Catherine’s,
Tischendorf "borrowed" parts of the Codex and took
them back to Leipzig University. In 1859, he presented a
large portion of the Codex as a gift to Tsar Nicholas II,
which was later acquired by the Imperial Russian Library
in St Petersburg. This portion of the Codex was later
sold by Joseph Stalin to the British Library for £100,000.
Just over half of the original Codex Sinaiticus has
survived, now dispersed between four institutions: St
Catherine’s itself, the British Library, Leipzig University
Library in Germany, and the National Library of Russia
in St. Petersburg. The largest surviving portion (694
pages), including the entire New Testament, is at The
British Library. St. Catherine’s Library is now equipped
with laboratories for the conservation and the
microfilming of its manuscripts, and its archives are
available for use by scholars engaged in special studies.
The Codex Sinaiticus is being digitized and will be made
available online. In June 2002, the monastery of St.
Catherine's was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Egypt, Scott #1878a).
Last updated: 27 Mar 2013
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