BONDUEL - A 340-year-old discovery has put a small Lutheran school and church in Bonduel on the worldwide map. A 17th century Bible was found inside St. Paul Lutheran School.
It's old world craftsmanship that's survived more than three centuries. According to researchers, the 1,500 page Lutheran Bible was printed in 1670 in Germany. It's a re-published version of Martin Luther's translation of the Holy Bible.
"We've spanned this gap with this Bible - two centuries. Most of our stuff is from the 1800s floating around here," explained Church Pastor Timothy Shoup.
More than two years ago, sixth grade teacher Debra Court discovered the book in an old safe located in the school. Her initial thought: it's just another old book.
"I was looking for the old baptism records to show my students and then up here in the corner was where the Bible was tucked," explained Court.
But it took two years to realize how special it was. Eventually, the pastor sent pictures to the Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis. A cataloger there was able to authenticate the 340-year-old book.
Experts say the book looks to be in relatively good condition, especially because the brass clasps that are still intact. They say detailed illustrations were also impressive.
"Each time I see an illustration like this, I just think of how beautiful it looks and how much of a labor of love it must have been for the person who actually drew it," said Lyle Buettner, who works in Special Collections at Concordia Seminary Library.
Buettner says the church possesses one of about 40 copies, which are located across the United States and in parts of Germany. However, he believes that's more than likely only a small fraction, since many copies are probably not recorded.
How the book ended up in Bonduel is still a mystery. But either way, Pastor Shoup says the 17th century discovery has brought him closer to his faith. And to him, that's the most important part.
"To hold something that tells us, in 1670, the same message of God's grace and Christ, that we tell one another today, that helps me to be even more thankful," Shoup said.
The church plans to keep the Bible until its 150th anniversary in 2013. The church did consider donating it to the library in St. Louis. However, the church is looking to have a climate-controlled display box made, so they can keep it indefinitely.
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