“We never before had to deal with a manuscript recovered from a bog”

The Irish Times reports that conservation work on the 1,200-year-old “Faddan More Psalter”, discovered in 2006 by a workman operating a mechanical digger, is almost complete. The National Museum of Ireland plans to put the eighth century religious manuscript “of staggering importance” on public display next year. From the Irish Times report

Yesterday, the museum’s director, Dr Pat Wallace said the psalter was so rare and important it now ranks among the top 10 of the tens of thousands of objects in the national collection. It will form the centrepiece of a permanent exhibition in a room of its own expected to open by “early summer 2011” at the museum’s Kildare Street galleries. Dr Wallace said the discovery was “more important for Ireland than the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls” had been for biblical scholars and has changed our views about how ancient Irish manuscripts were produced. He added: “We never thought anything like this would ever be found.”

Additionally, from the same report

The psalter was found on the afternoon of July 20th, 2006, by Eddie Fogarty, a workman who was operating a mechanical digger.

He spotted the book in the bucket of his digger and contacted the bog’s owners, Kevin and Patrick Leonard, who gathered the fragments and covered them with wet peat before notifying the staff of the National Museum.

A specialist team that arrived at the scene discovered that the psalter had fallen open with lines from Psalm 83 clearly visible.

Hmm… I’m not convinced it had “fallen open”

And before we have a re-run of the international furore which accompanied the original discovery there’s an important clarification which the report omits. The archived statement from the museum doesn’t appear to be available, but the relevant quote is recorded in the comments here.

The Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Dr. Patrick F. Wallace, would like to highlight that the text visible on the manuscript does NOT refer to wiping out Israel but to the ‘vale of tears’.

This is part of verse 7 of Psalm 83 in the old latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) which, in turn, was translated from an original Greek text would have been the version used in the medieval period. In the much later King James version the number of the Psalms is different, based on the Hebrew text and the ‘vale of tears’ occurs in Psalm 84. The text about wiping out Israel occurs in the Vulgate as Psalm 82 = Psalm 83 (King James version).

Some are already quoting the wrong Psalm…

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  • joeCanuck

    Wonder did they dig deeper. Who knows, they might have found whoever it was who dropped the book.

  • Cynic2

    God moves in mysterious ways …to give us different bibles and psalms for proddies and catherlicks

  • old school

    God knows what we’ve been unwittingly throwing into our fireplaces over the last few centuries.

  • PaddyReilly

    Does it say that we’re going to be ruled by an ass and a dog?

  • joeCanuck

    No Paddy, but it confirmed that skin is the most elastic substance in the world since it says that Jesus tied his ass to a tree and walked into Jerusalem.
    I’ve waited about 55 years to re-tell that one.

  • PaddyReilly

    I’ve waited about 55 years to re-tell that one.

    If I were you I’d wait another 55 years before telling it again.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks for your posting, Pete, which represents a wonderful piece of news. When the manuscript has been restored and put on display, it’ll be well worth a visit in its own right.

    I wonder how many more treasures are waiting to be unearthed from our peat-bogs.

  • I wonder how many more treasures are waiting to be unearthed from our peat-bogs.

    Well, a ticket for either of the two Friday evening services from Heuston to Westport, with a guaranteed arrival, and no bus transfers: that would be useful.

    Of course, what Ireland needs far more is yet another psalter.

    No: I mustn’t be bitter and philistine.