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.
New College Library’s Torah Scroll (Pentateuch) was on display to visitors today in the Funk Reading Room.
Scrolls such as these are an integral part of Jewish communal life, being read in their entirety in a yearly cycle. The portions of the masoretic texts are divided into weekly portions and their reading in communal worship is followed by a set reading from the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible.
This scroll is no longer suitable for ritual use, as it is no longer bound onto its original etzim (rollers) or clothed in its original protective and decorative garments. Some letters are damaged, indicating its non-kosher status. Conservation work was undertaken in 2008 to ensure that the scroll was preserved in an appropriate state for study and teaching, and it received new rollers and new box. The funds for this work were raised by the New College Library Book Sale.
The provenance of the scroll is not known, but it may have come to the Library at the same time as other objects from Jewish religious practice in the New College Library objects collection. These include a phylatctory or tefillin, a small, black leather cube-shaped case made to contain Torah texts.
The online version of the New Cambridge History of the Bible : From 600 to 1450 by Richard Marsden, E. Ann Matter is now available to University of Edinburgh users via the Library catalogue. It joins other Cambridge Histories ebooks which are available via the catalogue, such as the Cambridge History of Religions in America, ed. Stephen J. Stein.
University of Edinburgh users now have trial access to Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (De Gruyter) – trial ends 8 March. Find the link at: http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/databases-trials
The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge on the origins and development of the Bible in its different canonic forms in Judaism and Christianity. At the same time, EBR also documents the history of the Bible’s reception in the Christian churches and the Jewish Diaspora; in Islam, in other religious traditions and current religious movements, Western and non-Western alike, as well as in literature, art, music, and film.
University of Edinburgh users still have Context of Scripture Online (Brill) available on trial until 19 February. All your feedback is helpful, but if you are able to provide feedback which compares these two Biblical Studies resources that would be particularly welcome. Do you think one is more useful than the other, or are they complementary and we need both?
Interesting blog entry on Protestant missionary material in Chinese by David Helliwell, Curator of Chinese Collections, Bodleian Library
As indicated in my last blog entry, we have a very fine collection of Protestant missionary material in Chinese, dating mostly from the first three quarters of the nineteenth century. Our collection consists mostly of tracts, of which we have over 1,300 different editions with many duplicates.
Our Chinese Bible collection is not as big as that of the Bible Society, which was transferred to Cambridge University Library when the Society sold its premises in central London and moved to Swindon in 1985. Nevertheless, it is significant, and we have copies of most of the landmark editions.
But we lacked a copy of the very first printed edition of Holy Scripture in Chinese, Lassar and Marshman’s gospels of Matthew and Mark printed at Serampore in 1810, and we also lacked a copy of the earliest known tract, which was written and printed by Robert Morrison in Canton in 1811.
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New on display in New College Library’s Funk Special Collections Reading Room, is The Bible in 20th Century art. It is opened to show a painting of The Nativity by Bernard Buffet (1961), the original of which is held in the collection of the Vatican Museum.
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.