Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I was listening to a "Stuff you missed in history class" podcast about the Book of Kells on the way into work this morning, something I was interested in because of the recent animated movie, and so I decided to look at some images. It certainly is beautiful.
And imagine what it might have been with the extra half inch of decoration around the rim that an overzealous bookbinder in the early 19th c trimmed off. Anyhoo, I was reading the wikipedia page, and was struck by this quote:
There are a number of differences between the text and the accepted Gospels. In the genealogy of Jesus, which starts at Luke 3:23, Kells erroneously names an extra ancestor. Elsewhere, Matthew 10:34b should read "I came not to send peace, but a sword," but the manuscript reads gaudium ("joy") where it should read gladium ("sword") and so translates as "I came not [only] to send peace, but joy."
Imagine if that actually was correct, and the quote was really "to send peace, but joy" instead of "a sword". One letter. Probably not true, as I think the gospels were in Greek, not Latin, so this was a Latin mistake, but it's amazing to think how much bloodshed might have been avoided through the ages. I won't get into religion, specifically Christianity, and how passages have been used to enslave or kill others for millenia, but it is wild to think that something like a mistranslation, or a missing letter, could change intent, dogma, rationalization, and history. It boggles the mind.