This portable manuscript recounts the six days of Creation as written in the Book of Genesis. But holes soon begin to appear in the pages and then multiply, making the text increasingly difficult to read. These lacunae are in fact the silhouettes of extinct animal species, wiped out by human activity within my own lifetime. Their absence undermines the meaning and integrity of the text: By punching holes in the web of life, we are destroying something sacred, the original Book of Creation, without which all our scriptures are meaningless.
The title (“Book I”) suggests, however, that this story isn’t over. The next book remains to be written. What will we make of it?
Note about the text and script
This is the Arabic translation as used in the Coptic Bible today. The script is based on a 9th-century example loosely referred to as “Christian Kufi”, found in the earliest dated biblical manuscripts in Arabic (a now dispersed manuscript: Sinai Ar. 155, British Library Or. 8612, MS Munich Cod.arab. 1071 and others; see this blog post by Peter Tarras). I have slightly formalised it and given it more consistency for this project.
Note: The mineral pigments occasionally imprint or rub on the opposite page. This is commonly observed in historical manuscripts due to the friction between pages and it’s a mark of authenticity, not a defect. This effect does not occur in the printed reproductions.