New Zealand church finds a 400-year-old Bible in its closet

(Representative image only) The contents of a rare miniature Bible dedicated to George Washington | Reuters

A New Zealand church got a big surprise when they opened a cabinet to find a 400-year-old Bible inside. 

According to New Zealand website Stuff.co.nz, the Bible discovered in St Peter's Church in Palmerston North is a 1616 King James Version Bible, making it extremely rare. 

The website reports that the Bible was first discovered by the church back in 2012, wrapped inside a towel, although church officials are apparently not too sure how it ended up there. 

The congregation of worshipers at St Peter's only dates back to the early 1900s so they are at a loss as to explain how the historical Bible came to be inside their closet. 

Reverend Amy Houben​ of St. Peter's thinks it was possibly brought across to the country by someone who came to settle in New Zealand from Britain. 

"It almost seems out of place having it down in little, old New Zealand," she told the website. "It's got old bones and a good heart, but it's from a whole different world."

The Bible is being brought out again this week to coincide with National Bible Day on July 15. 

But this time, it's not wrapped up inside a towel.  It's on full display inside its own special cabinet so members of the public can have a look at the fragile object without damaging it. 

Since being discovered, the congregation have also invested in a new cover for it. 

Houben admitted, though, that she felt a little bad about the holy book being kept locked up inside a display cabinet.

"I feel quite sorry for this old girl in a way," Houben said. "They were made to be read and held. They weren't made to be locked in a glass coffin."

According to the website, an expert previously told the church that the Bible in their possession was genuine and extremely rare as only 30 copies from the 1616 print run of the King James Bible are thought to still be in existence.