Bible from 1599 found at Lewis & Clark College

Bible from 1599 found at Lewis & Clark

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Lewis and Clark student found a piece of the past. Inside a forgotten box, he found a centuries-old Bible.

You might not look twice if you saw the Bible on a shelf, but take the time to open it up and you'll see it's special.

“It's an exciting feeling,” said Sam Bussan, a junior who works in the Lewis & Clark library as an archival assistant.

He found the more than 400-year-old Bible last week by chance.

“I was about to leave for the day,” Bussan said.

But a box caught his eye. He opened it and found a number of Bibles. One of them was printed in 1599. For Bussan, even holding the piece of history is a powerful feeling.

“It's strange to say about a book ... but it's almost a religious experience or maybe the closest thing to a religious experience that I have as a not very religious person,” Bussan said.

The Bible he found is remarkable for many reasons.

“As far as I know, it was the first Bible that was really widely used by ordinary people,” said E.J. Carter, a librarian in the Special Collections department at the school.

Carter said he hopes the find gets more students interested in history and literature.

The book is heavy and tattered, but the beauty is in the details like the smudges, the browned pages, and the carefully drawn maps.

“It's just beautiful,” said Bussan as he flipped through the pages.

Hannah Crummé, the head of the Special Collections department, said it's possible the Bible is the only copy of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Crummé said they don't know who first owned this book. But they've traced ownership back to a man named Francis Fry. He was a Bible collector in 19th century England. From there the book was sold to a pastor in Yachats. It was then donated to the college after possibly making a pit stop in Roseburg.

“The quality of printing is really amazing,” Bussan said.

As for Bussan, he's glad he decided to make a pit stop before heading home last week. He said he's learned a lesson from all this.

“I would say keep looking just a little bit further,” he said.

The Bible is the second oldest book in their collection at Lewis & Clark College.

The oldest book they have is about 500 years old.


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