Scholars secure future of rare £1.1m Biblical manuscript

The Codex Zacynthius Image copyright Cambridge University Library
Image caption The 176 leaves of the Codex Zacynthius are made of vellum - a treated animal hide

Scholars have hit their target of raising £1.1m to secure the future of an early Biblical manuscript.

The Cambridge University Library has housed the Codex Zacynthius since 1984.

It was offered first refusal to buy the New Testament manuscript and had until the end of August to find the funds.

The fate of the historical text had been in doubt after the Bible Society in Swindon, which owned it for almost 200 years, decided to sell it off to raise money.

The society, which was presented with the 176-page volume in 1821, wanted to shore up funds for a new £1m visitor centre inside a deconsecrated church in North Wales.

Dr Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury who supported the Cambridge University Library's fundraising campaign, said securing the text would allow further study.

The bible features an early seventh century script which has been partially scraped away and written over to make way for a 13th century entry.

It is regarded as an important text in studying the development of the New Testament.

"The discovery and identification of the under-text represents a fascinating detective story," Dr Williams said.

"By securing the manuscript, we hope that multispectral imaging techniques will enable scholars to recover fully the hidden text."

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