Books associated with particular places often take on nationalistic significance. This happened again when the 7th-century St Cuthbert's Gospel was put up for sale by the Jesuits this year.
It is touted as the world's "oldest intact book" because the original binding of the Gospel of John manuscript has survived. The British Library intends to digitize the book so that it is available to people "everywhere" online. But its campaign to raise the money emphasizes the urgency of keeping the Gospel "for the nation" because it is "a precious part of our heritage":
The campaign was successful: the Library has now acquired "one of the world’s most important books" for 9 million pounds.
Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)