Best news story of the week

Rev. Hank Peirce found a 1795 translation of the Koran in the attic of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Mdeford, Mass., which had belonged to an 18th C. minister of the congregation — and here’s the online story. A brief excerpt of the news story follows the jump.

Medford [Mass.] — You never know what sort of treasures might be hiding in your attic. That’s just what happened when a researcher came to check out some old books hidden in the attic of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Medford.

The Rev. Hank Peirce said the books are part of the library of the Rev. David Osgood, who served the church in the 1700s. Upon his death, Osgood’s books were divided, with half going to the Medford Public Library and half remaining in the church attic, which now serves as a records room.

“I wanted to see what was here,” said Peirce, of the hardcover books still neatly lined up on a shelf. “If there was something we should donate, we wanted to have an answer.”

And while there was nothing of value in Osgood’s collection, there was an oddity — a small brown book that caught Peirce’s attention. Tucked in towards the end of the row is a translation of the Koran written by George Sale, which was published in 1795.

“This was the second translation,” Peirce said. “The first one was not a good translation and was very heavily opinionated. This one is a pretty straightforward translation.”

Peirce said that first translation, published five years before Sale’s book, might have been valuable. Yet, this particular book says something to Peirce about Osgood.

“He had a real intellectual curiosity,” Peirce said. “Here he was at the end of the American Revolution and it was a time of great change. Here was a religious book and he wanted to see what it had to say.”