New 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.
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]
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.
(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]
Photographers 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.
Bartolomeo Platina, (1421-1481) was a writer and member of the College of Abbreviators in Rome, a body of writers in the papal chancery who prepared the Pope’s bulls, briefs and decrees before they were formally written out by scribes. Deprived of his office and imprisoned by Pope Paul II, he left a lasting vengeance for his enemy in his Vitæ Pontificum Platinæ historici liber de vita Christi (1479). As well as being a polemic against his enemy, Platina’s Lives of the Popes was an invaluable early handbook of papal history which had an enduring influence on historical opinions.
New College Library holds this 1481 edition of Platina’s Vitæ Pontificum in the Incunabula Collection, catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects. A manuscript note records the original owner as F. Sargent, the donor of other rare and valuable items to New College Library.
The Longforgan Free Church Ministers Library is a collection of handsomely bound volumes, particularly rich in patristic and theological texts. The rare books in the collection include Knox’s Liturgy (1611), the Babylonian Talmud and Athanasii opera (1600). Each volume is embossed in gold with the distinctive stamp of the Longforgan Library. It is kept in its own custom made glazed shelving, now housed at the entrance to New College Library and in the David Welsh Reading Room.
The Longforgan Library was originally gifted to the Free Church at Longforgan, Dundee by Mr David Watson, son of the Rev Dr Charles Watson, who was the owner of Bullionfield Paperworks at Invergowrie. The original deed of gift records that the books were given along with the bookcases and £100 invested in stocks and shares for the library’s upkeep(1). The library that was formally handed over to the Deacons Court at Longforgan Free Church (who acted as trustees) had its own printed catalogue in a bound volume, still in use at New College Library today.
The next chapter in its history came in 1962 when ownership of the Longforgan Free Church Minister’s Library was transferred to New College Library. The move had been set in motion by the Revd James Torrance (who had been minister at Longforgan) and Professor T.F. Torrance (who was then curator of New College Library) (2).
Last week we welcomed descendants of David Watson at New College Library, who shared details of the Longforgan Library’s original donor, and who were able to see David Watson’s lasting legacy here. The Longforgan Library is due to be catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects 2012-14.
(1) Gould, Four Churches of Invergowrie. Dundee : 1997, p. 79
(2) Howard, John. In : Disruption to Diversity. Edinburgh : 1996, p. 193.
New on display in the entrance to New College Library is the Works of King James I of England and VI of Scotland edited by James Montagu, Bishop of Winchester, and Dean of the Royal Chapel.
With an engraved portrait of Prince Charles (later King Charles I), and later the Royal Coat of Arms this contains James’ paraphrase of the apocalyptic books of the Bible, as well as works on royalty and church and state. It was published in 1619, in James’s lifetime.
The volume has a vellum binding covered in a stamped gilded decoration of scattered flowers around a central image of a wild boar.
Part of the Dumfries Presbytery Library, the volume is inscribed Ex Libris Johannes Hutton. Dr John Hutton, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, became the first Treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (1681–82), and Court Physician to King William III and Queen Mary (1688–1702).
Later he was also MP for Dumfries Burghs (1710–12) and when he died in London, in November 1712, he gave as a bequest his library of 1,500 volumes to the Presbytery of Dumfries. Much of this is preserved as the Dumfries Presbytery Library, now kept in New College Library.
This item was recently catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects.
New College Christmas Carol Service is taking place today at 5pm in the Martin Hall, led by members of the New College community and with singing from the New College Choir. Here’s a Christmas carol from New College Library’s collections.
This pamphlet, The wood-walls of Scotland, was originally published in the newspaper the Fife Sentinel. It contains a carol that would have been sung to a popular hymn tune, inspired by the verse from Psalm 132 “Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.” Published after the Disruption of 1843, the carol is celebrating the outdoor services held to accommodate congregations who had separated to form the new Free Church of Scotland.
“On hill-side and green valley
Our wooden temples placed
The faithful, round they rally
The Gospel-standard rais’d”
Many folk will be going to Christmas lunches and parties this week - including New College Library staff. Outside our office window the Edinburgh Christmas fair is in full (and noisy) swing, celebrating the season.
This eighteenth century pamphlet, A discourse concerning the lawfulness and right manner of keeping Christmas, gives an eighteenth century view on seasonal celebrations. It takes the form of a dialogue between a master and scholar, prefacing the discussion with the quotation of Bible texts that urge sincere and temperate behaviour. It unpicks the theology of Christmas from an early eighteenth century Anglican point of view, negotiating the scriptural and historical justifications of the observance of Christmas as a holy day and the contemporary differences in practice with other Protestant Churches. The author looks back on the abolishment of Christmas celebrations (including plum pudding) under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan regime after the English Civil War. It is possible both this period and the Restoration of 1660 may have been within the author’s living memory.
This book is also available online to University of Edinburgh users via Eighteenth Century Collections Online, where it can be read online in full.
This item is from New College Library’s Z Collection, currently being catalogued as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library.
The Mahzor Ashkenazim is an example of a mahzor, or festival prayer book, for Ashkenazi usage, published in Venice in the early eighteenth century. Its large size makes it likely that it was intended for synagogue use rather than personal prayer. The Encyclopedia Judaica (available online to University of Edinburgh users) notes that mahzorim, which originally developed in medieval south western Germany, started to appear in the Ashkenazi communities of northern Italy in the fifteenth century.
This item is part of the Dalman-Christie Collection, catalogued as one of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library. The Dalman-Christie Collection was transferred to New College Library in 1946 from the Church of Scotland Hospice in Jerusalem. With thanks to our Hebrew Cataloguer, Janice Gailani, for helping to identify this item.
Today, November 30, is Saint Andrew’s day, also celebrated as Scotland’s national day.
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (available online to University of Edinburgh users) notes that the cult of St Andrews was evident in England from Anglo-Saxon times, when the church in Rochester was the earliest of 637 medieval dedications to St Andrew. His legend grew to include the translation of his relics from Patras to Scotland by St Rule or Regulus in the 8th century. It is said that under angelic instruction, St Rule stopped at the place in Fife now known as St Andrews and built a church there, which became a centre for Christian evangelization and learning. St Andrew is commonly depicted with the saltire cross (X), which is used to represent Scotland on the Union Jack.
This image of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, comes from a seventeenth century English Bible which contains attractive illustrations of Bible scenes and pictures of the saints. It has bound with it metrical Psalms in the version of the Scottish Psalter, 1564. It is part of New College Library’s Early Bibles Collection, catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing projects.