Judaism and Jewish Studies: the work of John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and Adolph Saphir

New College Library holds collections of and about a number of individuals who gathered material and wrote extensively on Judaism and Jewish Studies, motivated by their interest in the conversion of Jews to Christianity.  Two significant figures in this area of interest are John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and Adolph Saphir.

Duncan was a colourful, intelligent and, at times, tortured soul, one particularly gifted in the study of languages and in missionary work.  Born in 1796, he obtained an MA from the University of Aberdeen in 1814.  When he began his study of theology, he was still an atheist and did not convert to Christianity until 1826.  Even thereafter, he had times of doubt before settling into firm belief.

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan – portrait by Hill & Adamson

In 1840, having spent some years as an ordained minister, Duncan’s interest in Hebrew and his growing interest in the church’s work concerning the conversion of the Jews to Christianity led to his appointment as the Church of Scotland’s first missionary to the Jews.  Stationed in Budapest from 1841-43, Duncan was remarkably successful in his work there converting, among others, the young Adolph Saphir and his family to the Christian faith.

But in 1843, following The Disruption, Duncan’s calling took him back to Edinburgh where he held the chair of Hebrew and Oriental Languages at the newly-founded New College, remaining in post there until his death in 1870.

Until recently, Duncan’s collection was not easily accessible but it can now be searched for online.  Resources by, about or owned by Duncan can be found in DiscoverEd and also via this resource list compiled by Academic Support Librarian, Christine Love-Rodgers.

In 1843, one of Duncan’s converts, 13-year-old Adolph Saphir, came with him to Edinburgh from Budapest, his father being keen that the young Adolph improve his English and train as a minister of the Free Church.  This process took some time and saw Saphir travel to Berlin, Glasgow and Aberdeen, becoming a student of theology at the Free Church College, Edinburgh in 1851.  In 1854, Saphir, himself a Jewish convert, was appointed a missionary to the Jews.  Saphir’s mission took him first to Hamburg and then, in 1856, to South Shields.  Five years later, he moved to London where he remained until his death in 1891.

Adolph Saphir – photograph by T. Roger, Swan Electric Engraving Co.

Despite Duncan’s inner battles of the spirit and his lack of prowess as a formal teacher, his personal piety, linguistic and informal teaching abilities, as well as his success as a missionary, were impressive.  Saphir and he contributed significantly to the collection of items in New College Library, particularly with reference to the Christian mission to the Jews during the 19th century.  Their legacy is to the ongoing benefit of scholars of Judaism and Jewish Studies.

A small exhibition of some of our Duncan and Saphir material will run from                 26th February-31st March 2019 in New College Library.

Bibliography

http://www.clan-duncan.co.uk/john-rabbi-duncan.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Duncan_(theologian)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Saphir

http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-24663?rskey=IibrBc&result=1

https://archive.org/stream/rschsv028p1barr/rschsv028p1barr_djvu.txt

Mighty in the Scriptures: a memoir of Adolph Saphir, D.D./by Gavin Carlyle. J.F. Shaw and Co.; 1893.

 

Gina Headden, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library and Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, School of Divinity, New College.  

With many thanks to Jessica Wilkinson from the School of Divinity who contributed so much to identifying and listing the relevant New College Library collections.

Library Resources for Islam and Muslim-Christian Studies: an introduction

From time to time, we compile resource lists on different aspects of Theology and Religious Studies.

Islam and Muslim-Christian Studies are developing areas of our collections, responding to the new teaching and research activities of the School of Divinity. Below is a brief guide to some relevant resources you can find at New College Library.

Books

* Books on Islam at shelfmark BP (downstairs in Stack I)

* Copies of the Qur’an at BP 109

* Books on Islamic law/Shari’a law at shelfmark K (downstairs in Stack I)

Online Journals about Islam/Muslim communities

* Al-Jamiʼah: Journal of Islamic Studies

* American Journal of Islamic Studies

* Comparative Islamic Studies

* Contemporary Islam

* Critical Muslim

* Islam & Science

* Islam and Christian Muslim Relations

* Islam and civilisational renewal: a journal devoted to contemporary issues and policy research.

* Islamic Studies

* Journal of Indonesian Islam

* Journal of Muslim Mental Health

* Journal of Muslim minority affairs

* Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies

* Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association

* Sociology of Islam

* Studia Islamica

* The Muslim World

This is a selective list which features only journals published in English. The library also provides access to other online journals in the field of Islam which are published in other languages e.g. Arabic, Turkish and Indonesian: search in DiscoverEd to find these.

Online Databases

* Christian-Muslim Relations Online

* Early Western Korans Online

* Encyclopaedia of Islam

* Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an

* Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures Online

* Index Islamicus

* Kotobarabica Arabic E-Library

* Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islam

* Oxford Islamic Studies Online

* Qurʾānic Studies Online

* Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Islam

You can find further resources at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/database-islamic-stud

If you’d like to find out more about sources relating to the study of Islam, or any other research topic relating to Divinity, please contact Christine by e-mail at: Christine.Love-Rodgers@ed.ac.uk

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, School of Divinity, New College and Gina Headden, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library.

 

1893: A story of scary librarians and brave students

Student helpers at New College Library 1893 ( from the New College Library Archives AA 1.8.1)

New College Library and its students have always had a special relationship. Recently, for example, our students chose their preferred most iconic items from our special collections and contributed to our beautiful exhibition ‘Steps through Time’ (you can check the corresponding post here).

However, not everyone knows that from the early stages of New College Library’s existence, students have played a fundamental role in the organisation and establishment of the library. For example, in 1843, when New College was founded, it was ‘student curators’ who stamped and listed the first donations that arrived at the library from various sources (see Disruption to Diversity, D.Wright and G.D.Badcock, p.187).

In spite of their initial involvement though, in its early days browsing New College Library was not a particularly student friendly experience. In fact, until 1893, the library was entirely the domain of the Librarian – he was the only one who had an overview of the entirety of the catalogue and the only one who was able to peruse the shelves and collect the books requested by the students.

Not only were students not allowed to browse the shelves freely, they were also kept in relative ignorance of the contents of the library, especially if some of the books did not meet with the Librarian’s criteria of safe readings. For example, Dr Kennedy, who was the Librarian of New College Library from 1880 until 1922,  ‘even adopted the stratagem of frustrating any reader, privileged to inspect the shelves, who sought to escape his lynx-like vigilance, by secreting scores of “dangerous” volumes on shelves hidden behind tables or forms ’, as Hugh Watt writes in New College a centenary history (p.162). The catalogue was also a fairly complicated affair, since for several years it consisted of written slips kept in packages accessible only to the Librarian.

Unsurprisingly, this was a most unsatisfactory system for the poor students. Therefore, in 1892, six students braved the phenomenal Dr Kennedy, and under his ‘lynx-like’ vigilance, they assisted him in re-arranging the catalogue to make it more user accessible. After a year of hard work, they published what you can consider as one of DiscoverEd’s ancestors: The Abridged Catalogue of Books in New College library, Edinburgh,1893.

And here, from the depths of New College Library’s Archive collection, is the picture of our student heroes:

From the New College Library archive, ref..AA.1.8.1

New College Library Archives (AA.1.8.1)

And here, with a well-deserved drink after a year of work with the impressive Dr Kennedy:

New College Library Archives (AA 1.8.1.)

While we are not encouraging you to drink beer in the library, or to rebel against our lovely library staff (nowadays, certainly not as scary as good, old Dr Kennedy), we want to celebrate those students with you today. It was also thanks to their hard work that New College Library became the much loved library that it is today.

Not much is known about those student heroes, their names are faded, a scribble at the back of an old photograph. But perhaps next time you wander through the library, send them a grateful thought. They will surely appreciate it.

Barbara Tesio, IS Helpdesk Assistant, New College Library

 

 

That would be an ecumenical matter … Celebrating 70 years of the World Council of Churches

In our New College Library Hall display for September 2018, we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches. Inaugurated in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is one of the leaders of the modern ecumenical movement, working towards the goal of Christian unity. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians. New College Library contains nearly a thousand WCC publications, including many unique or rare pamphlets. In the New College Library Archives, we hold the papers of several individuals and organisations who worked with the WCC, including Rev J.H. Oldham, Rev Robert Mackie and Rev. Tom Allaallenn. Continue reading

Welcome to New College Library 2018 #edwelcome


 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to all new and returning staff and students from New College Library at the beginning of the academic year.

We’re looking forward to meeting you. To help you get started with Library & IT services at the University, check out this Get Connected to the University page. Don’t forget to collect your University card from the Main Library in George Square.

You can find out more about New College Library at http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/new-college-library and about library resources for Divinity at : http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/subject-guides-divinity. 

I’ll be running library tours that are open to all UG and PG students on Wednesday 19 September at 1.15pm and on Wednesday 26 September at 1.15pm. If you’d like a library tour or introductory meeting and these dates don’t suit you, please do get in touch with me to make other arrangements.

Have a look at the Divinity Library Newsletter 2018 which includes

  • Successful pilot leads to extended Library opening hours
  • New digital collections for Divinity
  • New journals for Divinity

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Thomas Chalmers and The West Port Experiment

Those with an interest in Scottish church history are likely to be very familiar with Thomas Chalmers and the role he played in the Disruption of 1843 but how many know much of his West Port experiment? Continue reading

Steps Through Time at New College Library

Have you seen the new Steps Through Time display at New College Library? Today we’re celebrating the Steps Through Time project, which developed six display panels to be mounted alongside the steps up into New College Library. These panels highlight treasures from New College Library’s rare book and archive collections against a timeline of Scottish and religious history.

Student engagement event

This project kicked off with a student engagement event between Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 April. We held a daily display of New College Special Collections items featuring items from two different centuries each day, and encouraged students to take a few minutes break from their revision to vote on their favourite items from each century. Over the three days we had nearly 120 visitors to our displays, many of whom commented that they had no idea that New College Library held Special Collections items like these. I’m grateful to my two volunteers, Nastassja Alfonso and Jessica Wilkinson, for helping with these events and persuading revising students that they really did want to look at some Special Collections. The item that gathered the most votes was the 1638 National Covenant (bequeathed by Thomas Guthrie), which is one of five National Covenants in the New College Library collections. The National Covenants have recently returned to New College Library after benefiting from conservation work and digital photography at the CRC.

Image selection and text writing

A key task was the selection of the images, which we did with the data gathered from students votes, but also by consulting with student representatives from the School of Divinity. A clear message about representing diversity in our text and image choices was received from the student community and so we aimed to curate diversity into the timeline narrative. Student engagement transformed the project into more than developing some display panels of library treasures. If we had planned just to do that, the panels would have included images of incunabula, Bibles or Luther pamphlets, some of New College’s collection strengths. But that was not the story that the student community wanted to tell.

Impact

We hope the project will improve an area of the library entrance which is used by all visitors to the library, and that it will raise the profile of New College Library’s unique Special Collections. We will be gathering feedback both over the summer and in the first few weeks of semester to better understand the impact of the Steps Through Time display.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Celebrating women pioneers for ordained ministry in the Church of Scotland

Dr Elizabeth Hewat, first woman to receive a PhD from New College, who argued for women’s ordination

This blog post is written by Dr Lesley Orr, School of Divinity

In the year in which the Church of Scotland has welcomed the Very Revd Susan Brown of Dornoch Cathedral as its new Moderator of the General Assembly, the Church also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women.

On Wednesday 22 May 1968, the Fathers and Brethren of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted by a  large majority to extend eligibility of ordination to Ministry of Word and Sacrament to women, on the same terms as men. New College students, graduates and staff played a significant role throughout the half century when the question of women’s role, rights and equality in the Church was one of the most persistent and controversial issues for debate – not only in the Assembly but in wider Church and Scottish society. During this fiftieth anniversary year of women in ordained ministry, a commemorative project has been based at New College, supported by the Centre for Theology and Public Issues and in partnership with the Church of Scotland Ministries Council. Publications and photographs which tell a little of these events are currently on display in New College Library. But the story goes back much further.

Continue reading

New College Library Steps Through Time – 23-25 April

Steps Though Time is a project to create a timeline of six display panels to be mounted up the steps into New College Library. This will tell the unique story of New College Library through images of six treasures selected from the library’s rare book, archive and object collections. These images will be set against a timeline of Scottish religious history with an Edinburgh focus.

Students, we want you to help choose the images for the panels! We will be displaying a selection of library treasures over three days in the Funk Reading Room for you to choose from. Continue reading