“In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000” was a landmark exhibition presented in association with the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, which is the principal lending institution for this exhibition and is one of the greatest repositories for early manuscripts in the world. The Bodleian’s curatorial staff has also contributed to the shape of the exhibition and the exhibition catalog.
The exhibition coincided with the 100th Anniversary of Charles Lang Freer’s gift of Asian and American art to the people of the United States, now housed in the Freer Gallery of Art, and included several pages and fragments from Freer’s “Codex Washingtonensis,” fourth and fifth-century Old Testament Greek manuscripts. Also on view were a colorful painted cover of the “Washington Manuscript III—The Four Gospels,” depicting figures of St. Matthew and St. John
The exhibition presented over 70 of the earliest biblical artifacts in existence, including pages and fragments written in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopian and Coptic—many on display for the first time in the United States.