The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed a project that will digitise 1.5million pages, including collections of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
The Polonsky Foundation Digitisation Project, a collaboration between
the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca
Apostolica Vaticana (the Vatican Library), will make the pages freely
available to both researchers and the general public over the next three
initiative is being funded by a £2million grant from Dr Leonard
Polonsky, who has expressed a commitment to democratising access to
information and wants to see intellectual resources shared on a global
In a video interview, Archbishop Justin Welby highlights the
significance of the project, comparing it to that of the printing press.
"The impact of the spread of printing was so profound, not just on
religious practice, but on the whole self-understanding of society," he
says, noting that he finds the new process of digitalisation
The Archbishop says that he believes the digitisation of Biblical
texts "will indirectly have an impact on our liturgy and worship and
practice of faith", and contends that increased availability will allow
more people to be "profoundly" inspired by Scripture.
"Where you can see these ancient texts, there is just a lifting of the spirit, of something that inspires worship," he says.
"By being able to have access to them via a digitised collection,
this really opens the text to a far wider range of scholars than have
been able to get at them in the past, and is of huge international
significance as a result."
The digitisation project will focus on three main groups of texts: Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, and 15th-century printed books.
Both secular and religious texts will be drawn upon.
These will be
chosen individually for their scholarly importance and for the strength
of their collections both in Oxford and the Vatican.