Bible passages have been discovered for the first time hidden behind a 1,300-year-old Quran, a French scholar has revealed.
Eléonore Cellard of the College de France told The Guardian in an article posted on Wednesday that she was looking through London auction house Christie’s latest catalog when she came about the ancient Quran, which is from the second century of Islam’s existence.
When she looked closer at the Arabic manuscript, she noticed that there were actually Coptic letters faintly appearing behind the writing. A follow-up analysis found that the Coptic text was part of the Old Testament’s book of Deuteronomy, though the exact verses have not yet been made known.
“This is a very important discovery for the history of the Quran and early Islam. We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities,” said Cellard, who has an expertise in textual criticism.
Christie’s specialist Romain Pingannaud, who helped identify the biblical text, called the find “extraordinary.”
“Once you know it’s there, you can only see it, it becomes so obvious. We missed it at the beginning. It’s fascinating, particularly because it’s the only example where you have an Arabic text on top of a non-Arabic text,” Pingannaud added.
“And what’s even more fascinating is it’s on top of passages from the Old Testament. … It shows the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam; it’s very relevant.”