|Shanae and me on the boat tour|
St Petersburg is, of course, home to the oldest complete Masoretic manuscript of the Old Testament - the Codex Leningradensis (or Leningrad Codex). Written in A.D. 1008, or thereabouts, it is one of five principle Masoretic manuscripts upon which our Old Testament translations are based. It was not possible to visit the city without at least making an attempt to see the object and so after our boat trip I set about my quest.
I had no problem finding the Russian National Library. I had an awful job trying to locate the entrance. Once inside it became evident that without a reading pass it would be impossible to proceed past 'Go' and so one quickly filled out form, one simple interview, and one quickly taken photograph (the lady even asked if I was happy with the pose, as if such things can really matter) later and I was armed with my RNL reading card which was valid until the expiration of my visa - I didn't actually get around to telling them that after my first brief visit I wasn't planning on returning - but I don't think they'll be waiting up. Now things became a little tricky.
|Entrance to the Russia National Library|
For the first time in this whole experience I found a chap who spoke English. I explained to him my quest and he informed me that the manuscript in question was indeed in the next room but that I would need several letters of specific recommendation if I was to even contemplate setting my eyes on it. Fair enough, at least I tried. I didn't dare ask to see the remaining fragments of Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript we bought from the very same place almost 80 years ago for a mere £100,000. Nor did I think of offering a similar sum for the manuscript of my quest, but I was allowed to see a facsimile copy and so I spent the next hour or so perusing this until it came time for me to try to escape and meet Shanae as planned for lunch. All in all, though mission not really accomplished, a worth while and educational pursuit.
|Peter the Great's not-so-great cabin|
|The train to Moscow|