Posted by: David Stewart | March 6, 2011

An old fragment of wisdom

The old Bible pages



A few years ago, my sister Ellen told us we would be receiving a gift from her: a framed pair of pages from an old Bible. She acquired them because she had dealings with a framing shop in Denver, and they had been asked to frame the pages. However, whoever had ordered the framing job had abandoned them. So if my sister would pay for the framing, she could have the pages. She then gave them to us, since they didn’t match her decor. old Bible pages

According to the information that came with the pages, they are from a 1583 Luther Bible. This is about 100 years after Guttenberg printed the first Bible with moveable type, so it is definitely an interesting artifact.

And quite intricate in the detail of it’s woodcuts and typography.

  old Bible pages old Bible pages

The pages are from the book of First Kings, chapter 10, although I had to rely on Google Translate to figure that out. This is the story of the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon of Israel because of his fame in the ancient Near East. She brought a bunch of gifts with her and posed difficult questions for Solomon to solve. Satisfied by Solomon’s wisdom, she went back to her land.

The old Bible pages

What I didn’t know until I read the Wikipedia entry is that this queen is actually mentioned in various other writings such as the Qur’an, the holy book of the Muslims. Recent archeology in Yemen supports the view of a kingdom there which the queen would have hailed from.

  • A 425 year old technological artifact. Gee, my technology toys won’t last more than a few years at most. This one is twice as old as my country. Think of the generations of Germans who learned and grew reading these pages.
  • World leaders seeking each other out to learn rather than fighting with each other. Could we learn anything from this?
  • Wisdom, particularly at the level which Solomon possessed it, has a very large economic value. This was apparently Solomon’s wish: to be wise. It’s not such a bad thing.

We code to speed change, to fight and die. How much better to pause, be wise and live.


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