Tuesday, September 25, 2007

News Bits, In Brief
(saving your souls, one News Bit at a time)

Via AP: Norman Mailer will release On God: An Uncommon Conversation on Oct. 16. The book is to be "a series of 'Platonic dialogues' between the author and literary executor Michael Lennon." Judging from that picture, a conversation with God is soon to follow.

Via AP: "A rare first edition of the Book of Mormon found in a home near Palmyra, the birthplace of the Mormon religion, fetched $105,600 at auction Wednesday. Mormons consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture on par with the Bible." This reminds me of the tale of Mark Hofmann, a lapsed Mormon and professional forger who took the Mormon church for thousands of dollars in the 1980s. He sold the church fake letters supposedly written by the church's founders, letters that could have proved damaging to the reputation of the organization. At one point, Hofmann also sold the church a couple of faked pages of sacred Mormon scripture.

Via AP: "Codex Gigas, also known as The Devil's Bible — a medieval manuscript said to have been written 800 years ago with the devil's help — has returned to Prague after an absence of 359 years. The priceless piece, considered the biggest medieval book, was taken from the Prague Castle by Swedish troops at the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648. It is in Prague on loan from Sweden's Royal Library in Stockholm. According to myth, a Benedictine monk promised to write the book overnight to atone for his sins. When he realized the task was impossible, he asked the devil for help. The page with the illustration of the devil is the one visitors see. The manuscript was likely written by one monk from the Benedictine monastery in Podlazice located some 65 miles east of Prague sometime at the beginning of the 13th century, said Zdenek Uhlir, a specialist on medieval manuscripts at the National Library. It contains 'a sum of the Benedictine order's knowledge' of the time, including the Old and New Testament, 'The War of the Jews' by the first-century historian Josephus Flavius, a list of saints, or a guideline how to determine the date of Easter, Uhlir said. 'I would estimate it took him between 10 and 12 years to write,' he said about the piece, which weighs 165 pounds. Originally, it had 640 pages, of which 624 survived in relatively good condition, he said."