Adelaide Chapter

The destruction of the Alexandrian Library by Matthew James Gray

July 27, 2017

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Date(s) - 27/07/2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Classroom 3, Ground floor, Tabor College (carpark entry from Mitchell Street)


The Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, but somebody burnt it down. This resulted in the loss of many scrolls and books and has become a symbol of “knowledge and culture destroyed”. Different cultures have blamed each other throughout history. Ancient and modern sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria:

  1. Julius Caesar’s fire during his civil war in 48 BC;
  2. the attack of Aurelian in AD 270–275;
  3. the decree of Coptic Christian pope Theophilus of Alexandria in AD 391; and
  4. the Muslim conquest of Egypt in (or after) AD 642.

Matthew Gray will discuss:

  • What type of documents were held in the Library?
  • How was the library destroyed?

Matthew will also consider the wider issue of the churches’ role in in the preservation or destruction of literature from the ancient world.

Matt Gray

Matthew James Gray is a lecturer in theology and history at Tabor College.

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