A RARE inscription on a strip of gold, found as part of the Staffordshire Hoard, contains a Biblical quotation from the Old Testament.
New research published by the Universityof St Andrews suggests that the quotation may demonstrate that Christianity, at the time, was less dominated by the Bible than by the rituals and services.
The Staffordshire hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure was discovered in the English county in July 2009.
The hoard of more than three thousand objects, from jewelled sword hilts to crosses, buckles and helmet fragments also contained several garnet-inlaid gold strips including one with an inscription.
Although there are many religious inscriptions on the 250 Anglo-Saxon inscribed objects which have been previously discovered, just 21 are accurate biblical quotations. And just two, before the Staffordshire strip, were from the Old Testament.
The preference for quotations from the New Testament, and from liturgical sources, may tell us something about church organisation and influence at the time.
Researcher Professor Elisabeth Okasha, Professor Emerita and Acting Director of the Language Centre at University College Cork, who wrote the article, said: “Some interesting questions remain, probably the most striking being, why do so few Anglo-Saxon inscriptions contain a Biblical text?”
She added: “The paucity of Biblical quotation in the inscriptions seems particularly surprising in view of the involvement of the Anglo-Saxon church in literacy and learning, especially in Latin learning, and in the translation of at least some parts of the Bible from Latin into Old English.
“Could it be that the influence of the church was concentrated more, or perhaps experienced by lay people more, in the liturgical rather than in the strictly Biblical side of church teaching?”