Views from the News

Russia sentences secret agents over theft of Gutenberg Bible

Russia has sentenced three agents belonging to its Federal Security Service (FSB) for trying to sell a rare 15th-Century Bible, officials say. Colonel Sergei Vedishchev was given more than three years in a penal colony for stealing the two-volume Gutenberg edition from Moscow State University. He had offered it to a collector for under m (£700,000), a fraction of its estimated value. His two accomplices received lighter sentences for trying to find a buyer. The three men were caught in a sting operation by their own agency.

The Bible, which was produced by German printer Johannes Gutenberg in the 1450s, was stolen from the Moscow University’s safe in 2009. Vedishchev and his co-conspirators were arrested last year at the meeting place of the potential buyer in a sting operation arranged by the FSB.

Court spokeswoman Irina Zhirnova said the book was ‘priceless’ and that experts expected it to fetch at least m. ‘These people were not art specialists’, she said, ‘it just happened that one of them got access to this rare book and then they set about thinking about how to cash in’. ‘The book is to undergo repair work after a page was cut out for the buyer to check its authenticity’, she added.

The 15th-Century Gutenberg Bible was the first real book to be mass-produced using movable type printing techniques.

Has King David’s citadel been found? Israeli archaeologist claims to have discovered site captured in the conquest of Jerusalem

An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of Jerusalem. Eli Shukron has spent two decades uncovering a massive fortification of five-ton stones stacked twenty-one feet wide, and claims ‘the whole site we can compare to the Bible perfectly’. The fortification was built eight-hundred years before King David would have captured it from its Jebusite rulers, and Shukron says the biblical story of David’s conquest of Jerusalem provides clues that point to this particular fortification as David’s entry point into the city.

Noah COULD have floated his boat, say scientists: Ark really could have coped with two of every animal

The story of a man building a giant wooden boat to help his family and the entire animal kingdom survive a terrifying flood is one of the more contentious parts of the Bible. But research by physics students suggests that a structure on the scale of Noah’s ark as described in the ancient text could have been built. And what’s more, they say it would have been buoyant, even with two of every animal on Earth on board. However, while the ark would have stayed afloat, they’re not sure if every animal would have fitted inside.

North Korea gives South Korean missionary life sentence

North Korea has sentenced a South Korean Baptist missionary to hard-labour for life for allegedly spying and trying to set up underground churches, the latest in a string of missionaries to run into trouble in the rigidly controlled North.

North Korean state media said the missionary was tried and admitted to anti-North Korean religious acts, and ‘malignantly hurting the dignity’ of the country’s supreme leadership, a reference to the ruling Kim family.

Christian missionaries have been drawn over the years to totalitarian North Korea, which tolerates only strictly sanctioned religious services. North Korean defectors have said that the distribution of Bibles, and secret prayer services, can mean banishment to a labour camp, or execution.


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