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King James Bible on display at New College Library, Edinburgh

The Holy Bible : conteyning the Old Testament ... (London, 1611) New College Library B.r.64

The Holy Bible : conteyning the Old Testament … (London, 1611) New College Library B.r.64

Currently on display in the entrance to New College Library is a first edition (1611) of the the Authorised version or King James’ version of the Bible. In this edition, some copies are identified as “He” Bibles and some as “She” Bibles  because a typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun “He” instead of “She” in that verse in some printings.  These huge folio Bibles were designed to be read aloud in the pulpit, and a copy was originally chained to every church pulpit in England.

Fire and Brimstone

The discovery of a most enormous evil

The discovery of a most enormous evil (Edinburgh, 1752) W.c.1/7

Five years in to the Funk Cataloguing Projects here at New College Library, early Pamphlets are continuing to be catalogued. We’re still finding unique items which are being sent for digital photography over at the University of Edinburgh Main Library. Great blog post on these by Susan Petigrew in the Digital Imaging Unit – see http://libraryblogs.is.ed.ac.uk/diu/2013/09/25/fire-and-brimstone/

Looking at the Acta Sanctorum – Life of St Cuthbert

Acta Sanctorum Martii, vol. iii, (Antwerp, 1668), pp. 117

Acta Sanctorum Martii, vol. iii, (Antwerp, 1668), pp. 117

We welcomed University of Edinburgh MSc Medieval History students today for a tour of New College Library and the chance to see one of the texts they were studying, the Life of St Cuthbert, in New College Library’s first edition of the Acta Sanctorum,  which was on display in the Funk Reading Room. Published in the seventeenth century, the Acta Sanctorum, which contains the first printed edition of this work, is a huge Latin work in sixty-eight volumes examines the lives of saints, organised according to each saint’s feast day in the calendar year. This image shows the large folio volume, still in its original leather binding with metal clasps, open at the Life of St Cuthbert. The Acta Sanctorum is also available online to University of Edinburgh users.

New College Library Rare Books feature in Divinity Inaugural Lecture

The Practice of Piety  / Lewis Bayly, 1672. New College Library  DPL 912

The Practice of Piety / Lewis Bayly, 1672. New College Library DPL 912

The Redemption of Time / John Wade, 1692. New College Library F7 b1

The Redemption of Time / John Wade, 1692. New College Library F7 b1

Today Professor Susan Hardman Moore, Professor of Early Modern Religion, will deliver her inaugural lecture entitled ‘Time’ at 2pm. Professor Hardman-Moore’s lecture features a number of seventeenth century rare books from the New College Library collections, which will be on display in the Funk Reading Room after the lecture between 3-4.30pm.

The titles include John Wade’s  The Redemption of Time (1692) and the The Practice of Piety (1672) by Lewis Bayly. The Practice of Piety is part of the recently catalogued Dumfries Presbytery Library, and is inscribed Ex Libris Johannes Hutton, identifying it as part of the original bequest of 1500 volumes from Dr John Hutton.

Piping treasure on display in ‘The Piper’s Whim’ Exhibition

A collection of piobaireachd, or pipe tunes : as verbally taught by the M’Crummen pipers in the Isle of Skye to their apprentices / now published, as taken from John M’Crummen … [by Neil MacLeod, Gesto]. Edinburgh : Printed by Alex. Lawrie & Co., 1828. New College Library Gaelic Collections 137

Currently on display at St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh is an instruction book on the bagpipe  (in Gaelic Pibroch, or, Ceol mor, or, literally, Big music) from New College Library’s Gaelic Collection. Entitled “A collection of piobaireachd, or pipe tunes”  it  includes ” Canntaireachd notation” which was a way of teaching pibroch using verbal sounds. At first sight this looks like a collection of texts, but is actually music in the traditional ‘verbal notation’ that pipers used. It was published by Captain Niel MacLeod of Gesto, in Skye.

The volume is on display as part of THE PIPER’S WHIM: Exhibition of Historic Bagpipes from Scotland, England and Ireland,  a special exhibition showing the full variety of bagpipes played in Britain from the past 250 years. These include Lowland and Border pipes, the more familiar Highland bagpipe, Northumberland smallpipes and Irish union or uillean pipes. The exhibition explores the traditions of piping, pipemaking and bagpipe ownership.

From slave trader to ‘Amazing Grace’ – John Newton

[Newton, John] / An authentic narrative of some remarkable and interesting particularas in the life of ********* ... London, 1786.

[Newton, John] / An authentic narrative of some remarkable and interesting particularas in the life of ********* … London, 1786. New College Library Z.1188

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of John Newton, Anglican clergyman and hymn writer. This volume from New College Library’s Special Collections tells his remarkable story. The Authentic narrative of some remarkable and interesting particulars in the life of Mr. Newton describes Newton’s early career as a seaman on a slave trading ship. He experienced  a profound religious conversion, which when he finally took up life on shore led him to become active in evangelical revival. He pursued private studies in Divinity and taught himself Greek, Hebrew and Syriac.

In 1764, the year he was ordained as an Anglican priest, his Authentic Narrative appeared and quickly became a bestseller. Newton’s early life as a seaman slave trader coloured his experiences in later life, when he wrote and campaigned against slavery and is known to have met and advised William Wilberforce. He was a prominent hymn writer, and his legacy lives on today in the well known hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ .

New College Library has this sixth edition, at Z.1188, published in 1786, but it went through ten British and eight American editions before the end of the century. It was quickly translated into several other languages – New College Library also holds a Gaelic edition at Gaelic Coll. 137.

Sources

D. Bruce Hindmarsh, ‘Newton, John (1725–1807)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20062, accessed 18 July 2013]

The Case of Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, founder of the Secession church in Scotland

The Case of Mr Ebenezer Erskine B.a.b.1912

The Case of Mr Ebenezer Erskine
B.a.b.1912

Ebenezer Erskine (1680–1754), a founder of the Secession church, died in Stirling on 2 June 1754. A celebrated preacher,  his opposition to patronage, when a local landowner could choose the  parish minister without the approval of the people of the parish, set him against the established Church of Scotland.  In 1733 Erskine joined other Scottish ministers to form the Associate Presbytery, remaining in active ministry in Stirling. By 1742 the number of seceder congregations in Scotland had grown to twenty.

New College Library holds this pamphlet from 1733, recently catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects, which is typical of Erskine’s sermons published during the controversial times of the early 1730s.  New College Library also holds Erskine’s manuscript notebooks in the archives.

Sources

Early printed works of St Anselm on display at New College Library

Inc 27New on display in the Funk Reading Room is the Works of St Anselm,  Opuscula beati Anselmi archiepiscopi Ca[n]tuarie[n]sis ordinis Sancti Benedicti, printed in 1497.

April 21 is the Feast Day of St Anselm (1033-1109). A Benedictine monk who lived during the reigns of William the Conqueror and William Rufus, he became the abbot of the monastery at Bec in  Normandy, France. Named as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093  by William Rufus, under the rule of Henry I Anselm faced the challenges of preserving the secular and spiritual rights of the Church in the face of the authority of the King. Despite these political difficulties, Anselm held two great ecclesiastical councils at Lambeth and York  where many decrees for church reform were made.

Anselm’s prayers and meditations (accessible online to University of Edinburgh users in the Patrologia Latina)  had a lasting influence through the middle ages, but his writings also made a significant contribution to theological debate into the twentieth century and beyond.

New College Library holds two copies of Anselm’s works in the Incunabula Collection, which was recently catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects.

Sources

D.H. Farmer, ‘Anselm (1033-1109)’, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 2011; online edn 2012 [http://www.oxfordreference.com, accessed 17 April 2013]

The medieval monk who gave his name to Ockham’s Razor

De Sacramento Altaris

Tractatus venerabilis Inceptoris Guilgelmi Ocka[m] de sacramento altaris. William, of Ockham. Paris, [1495].

New College Library holds this copy of William of Ockham’s  De Sacramento Altaris,  a treatise on the Eucharist, in the Incunabula collection.

William of Ockham was born at Ockham, near Guildford in Surrey in 1287 and he died on the night of April 9 1347 in Munich. The future theologian and  philosopher entered the Franciscan order before the age of fourteen. He was educated at the Franciscan convent in London, and developed an academic career as a  lecturer and theological writer in Oxford and London. His unconventional views attracted attention within the Church and in1324 Ockham was apparently summoned to Avignon to have his writings examined for heresy, but in the end no formal condemnation took place. However his life came to a crisis after he challenged the doctrine of  Pope John XXII, saying that Jesus and the apostles owned no property but,  like the Franciscans,  lived by begging and the generosity of others. Along with other Franciscans he fled to Munich where he ended his days.

The methodological principle known as “Ockham’s Razor” states that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. It is described as a razor because it distinguishes between hypotheses by “shaving away” unnecessary assumptions.

Sources:

(1) Spade, Paul Vincent and Panaccio, Claude, “William of Ockham”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2011/entries/ockham/>.

(2) W. J. Courtenay, ‘Ockham, William (c.1287–1347)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20493, accessed 8 April 2013]

New College Library Edinburgh rare books to be added to Early English Books Online #EEBO

EEBO LogoPhotographers are occupying my office again today  for digital photography of a number of rare books from New College Library’s collections, to be loaded onto Early English Books Online (EEBO).  Available to University of Edinburgh users, EEBO contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700.  We’re delighted that New College Library’s collections will be shared with the world in this way.  The earliest book to be filmed is Hemmingsen, Niels, The professions of the true church, and of poperie compared,  Oxford, J. Barnes, 1585 . Most of the other examples are seventeenth century works, such as Austin, William, Hæc homo, wherein the excellency of the creation of woman is described, 1639.

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