Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Book-Fish

File this one under "obscure church history." One of the most curious episodes in the history of Protestant literature is that known as "The Book-Fish." In 1626, a woman at a marketplace in Cambridge, England discovered a book in the belly of a cod fish. It contained a small collection of Protestant tracts. Dr. Joseph Mede happened to be walking by at the time and retrieved the texts and was able to identify some of the (undigested) contents. The next year the works were published under the title Vox Pisces, or The Book-Fish, contayning three treatises which were found in the belly of a cod-fish in Cambridge market, on Midsummer Eve last. The preface to this book by Thomas Goad attributed the contents to the writings of a martyred Reformer, John Firth, although some have claimed that Richard Tracy was in fact the author. To this day, no one knows how these Protestant tracts ended up in the belly of a fish which was, providentially, caught and opened in Cambridge.

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