Finnish translation of Tertullian’s Apologeticum uses an image from my site?

I had an email today from a chap in Finland which interested and amused me.

Here in Finland, Tertullian’s Apologeticum has just been published in Finnish  translation made by certain Lutheran emeritus bishop Juha Pihkala. The publisher is Kirjapaja, and it looks like they have used in the cover your photo of the codex Romanus S. Isidoriensis 1/29; compare for example the lights in the middle of the foto. You can see the cover here. The publisher’s own net site ( shows a different picture on the cover of the book, but this one (the Isidoriensis) is on the actual book, I’ve seen it.

My friend was concerned, I think, in case I felt robbed or something.  But of course I don’t.  I’m glad to see those images, which few ever seem to look at, getting wider circulation.  I went to quite a lot of trouble to get permission to photograph those half-dozen manuscripts; indeed the effort was too much after a while.  So I am glad that they are being used to spread the good word!

I get so much email that I don’t remember for certain, but I may have had an email from the people concerned asking about permission.  If I did, I would have referred them to the Abbey that owns the manuscript.  I hope they made a donation in that direction either way.  But for myself, I rejoice to see it.

It’s also very good news that a Finnish translation has appeared.


4 thoughts on “Finnish translation of Tertullian’s Apologeticum uses an image from my site?

  1. “I went to quite a lot of trouble to get permission to photograph those half-dozen manuscripts;”

    Why is it so difficult to get permission? Having no experience with this, I’d have thought anyone with old manuscripts would be eager to have them photographed and widely disseminated.

  2. You would think so. But the reverse is the case, and always has been. Manuscript librarians live in a culture of suspicion. Remember that even to get access at all, you have to be Someone. You need special letters of introduction. The items are all unique. They are all valuable, commercially. Some are fragile.

    You know what librarians are like? Imagine that increased to the nth degree.

    As for photography, not merely is that “risk” — not that it is, but it could be –, many of these institutions make money by charging $20+ per image. So they are not at all keen to allow their monopoly to be broken.

    I found that smaller institutions were more glad to see someone come. But that meant it could be difficult to contact whoever it was. It would always be far away, hard to get it, hard to communicate with; and then you’d have to beg for permission, etc. I managed it a few times, but could face no more. And I got so many rude responses, or no responses, that I simply grew weary of it.

  3. That’s unfortunate. It seems to me holders have some moral obligation to see that these items are not lost. Providing or allowing off-site photographic backups seems like the responsible thing to do. Good thing you and others are doing what you can.

  4. I agree with you entirely. For instance, any amount of manuscripts were lost at Dresden in 1945. That was a century after the invention of photography; most of them had never been photographed. We may be sure that money came into it somewhere.

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