Ms. Junius 11, F. 82, Bodleian Library, Oxford

The first English Bible. An Anglo-Saxon paraphrase of Genesis 11 accompanies an illustration of the Tower of Babel in this tenth-century manuscript from the Bodleian Library at Oxford. In the 17th century, Francis Junius, a royal librarian and friend of Milton, recognized that the manuscript contained poems otherwise known only from quotations in the seventh-century writings of the Anglo-Saxon church historian the Venerable Bede. According to Bede, the poems, based heavily on Genesis, Exodus and the Gospels, were composed by an unlettered, seventh-century, Anglo-Saxon cowherd named Caedmon. Today, only a handful of the poems in the Bodleian’s Caedmon Manuscript are actually ascribed to Caedmon. These few texts are the earliest extant (albeit loose) translations of the Bible into English.