Sun-Times/WBBM Religion Roundup: Ancient religious texts abound in Chicago area

SHARE Sun-Times/WBBM Religion Roundup: Ancient religious texts abound in Chicago area

The Newberry Library collection includes both pages from a “Gutenberg bible” (left) and a Quran from the 1500s. | Newberry Library

Chicago is a relatively young city compared to many of the urban centers on other continents.

Nonetheless, institutions here hold numerous religious writings dating back to ancient times.

One collection at the University of Chicago includes 68 manuscripts – mostly New Testament – dating from the 5th or 6th centuries to the 19th century, in Greek and other tongues.

The Newberry Library has a 16th-century Quran and, separately, pages from a “Gutenberg bible,” believed to be from an initial run off an early printing press around 1454.

At the U of C’s Oriental Institute, a new exhibit called “The Book of the Dead” features handwritten “magical spells” used by the ancient Egyptians to transform “any living person into an immortal divinity in the afterlife.”

The oldest of the spells likely dates to 1450 BC.

Also at the institute: A fragment of the ancient Jewish text known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Religion Roundup is also featured on WBBM Newsradio (780 AM and 105.9 FM) on Sundays at 6:22 a.m., 9:22 a.m.and 9:22 p.m. For more religion coverage, check out the “Face to Faith” column at For tips and comments, email Robert Herguth at

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