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Holy Books Portal

The Torah, the Bible and the Quran: three religious texts that have been handed down generation after generation over the course of thousands of years. These three holy books have spawned several artistically and culturally significant manuscripts, and in our current modern age, we are provided with means to help preserve these documents for their religious and cultural value. As such, ISIS has set out to digitize and make available three exquisite manuscripts of the three holy texts.

Background of the Material
The BA’s Manuscript Center has so far selected and digitized the chosen Bible and Quran manuscripts: the Bible manuscript is the oldest Arabic manuscript of the four Gospels canonized by the Ecumenical Council: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The manuscript, which was obtained from the Saint Catherine Monastery and approved by the St. Macarius Monastery, dates back to 897 A.D. or the 284th Hijri year. The Quran manuscript is a unique selection from the 13th century Hijri, handwritten in Naskh calligraphy. The manuscript is in the possession of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Manuscript Museum.

As ISIS is committed to providing the ultimate digital experience, the manuscripts are displayed in a page flipping manner to provide the sensation of a handheld book. Tools such as instant zooming and indexes are also provided to amplify the experience and allow for easier navigation. The true treasure of the collection, however, is the availability of translations of the two texts in English and in French, as well as the availability of digital Arabic text and the Arabic exegeses of the two texts, with the option of having them displayed side by side with their corresponding scanned image. This was made possible due to efforts exerted by the people at the St. Macarius Monastery and the BA’s Manuscript Center, who diligently made sure that the translations and exegeses’ divisions suited the page divisions of the manuscripts.

Great care was taken in choosing the most suitable translations and exegeses for the website. For the Bible, the Arabic text in digital format, based on the Beirut translation of 1865 and the Arabic exegesis of the text is by Father Tadros Yacoub Malaty, of the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The English translation is that of the New King James Version conceived by Arthur Farstad, and was unveiled in 1975A.D and the French translation is Traduction oecuménique de la Bible of 1975. For the Quran, Tafseer al-Jalalain is the exegesis source and the English translation is that of Yusuf Ali, published in his book The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary (first published in 1934). The French translation is by Muhammad Hamidullah, first published in 1989 under the title Le Saint Coran: Traduction et Commentaire.

Website Details
These translations and the Arabic digital text have allowed for the advanced search options present in the site. One can search for a single word in any of the three languages, and retrieve results from all the holy texts, or one can even confine one’s search to certain chapters in the books.

Future Work
Future work on the project involves locating an equal valuable Torah manuscript and scanning it and finding associated material and translations, allowing the site to truly be a repository of all holy material.


Last updated on 03 Jun 2013