Christian-Muslim Encounters in Texts

This week, the School of Divinity hosts the first conference of the Global Network for Christian-Muslim Studies,  Reframing Christian-Muslim Encounter : Theological and Philosophical Perspectives.

In a new display in New College Library, we can see some Christian-Muslim encounters in texts from New College Library’s collections.  These texts record Christian reactions to the Muslim encounters Turkish military campaigns brought close to home, and the preparations of Christian missionaries to venture into Muslim territories. 

Robert, of Chester, active 1143, Peter, the Venerable, approximately 1092-1156, Bibliander, Theodorus (1504-1564), Luther, Martin (1483-1586) Melanchthon, Philipp (1497-1560), Machumetis Saracenorum principis, eius’ que successorum vitae, doctrina, ac ipse Alcoran.
(Basel, 1550) MH.163

At the same time as Martin Luther was challenging the authority of the papacy using scripture, the military campaigns of the Turks were approaching closer into Europe. Luther approached this encounter with Islam by inquiring into Islamic texts, which culminated in his involvement in this publication in Latin of the Qur’ān. Continue reading

When size matters : big books

A really good question was asked by one of our student interns recently about the rare books collections they were working with : “Why are the big books so big?”. This set me thinking about the size of the books in our Special Collections, big and small, and why size matters.

[Bible. Authorized version]. The Holy Bible : containing the Old and New Testaments … Glasgow ; Edinburgh ; London : Printed and published by William Mackenzie ; 1862-1863. New College Library B.r.302a-b

The biggest book that I know in our collections is the Queen’s Bible, which is so large (48cm in height) and heavy it takes two members of staff to safely handle it. This Bible was prepared for the International Exhibition of 1862, at which it was an example of the new technology of using machinery for composing text, though the printing was done by hand. With only 170 copies published, it is bound in red morocco, embossed with royal cipher and other ornaments, with brass mountings and clasps. For this book, its size is all about impressing the onlooker and is part of its role as a luxury object.

The Bible: translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages. London: Christopher Barker, 1583. B.r.33/1

Alongside this book, in our early Bibles collection we have several examples of pulpit Bibles such as this Geneva Bible used as the pulpit Bible in Crail, Fife. Traditionally Presbyterian churches in Scotland had a centrally located pulpit, reflecting the importance of the Bible as the foundation of faith. The large size of the book is part of its role as an object used in public worship.

Mikdash yeyai, ʻesrim ve-ʾarbʻa sefare ha-mikhtav ha-ḳadosh = En tibi lector Hebraica Biblia. Basel, 1534. LP4/2.10

In fact many of the largest books in our rare book collections are Bibles, and this is no surprise considering that the Bible is a very large amount of text, which requires a large book to fit it all in. This is even more the case for polyglot Bibles, which offer parallel versions of the text in different languages such as Latin, Hebrew and Greek, or for Bible versions that include commentary parallel with the text.  In the recently catalogued LP section, this folio edition of the complete Hebrew Bible, with Latin translation, and Latin commentary drawn from Rabbinic sources, is one of the greatest Christian Hebraists of the sixteenth century, Sebastian Münster. This Bible was highly valued by 16th century Christian students of the Hebrew language and the Hebrew Scriptures, and is likely to have been among the resources used by Luther in preparing his Genesis lectures (1535-1545), his last major work.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian

With thanks to Janice Gailani, Rare Books Cataloguer.

Window to a Sixth-Century Scriptorium

A post from guest curator Elijah Hixson, PhD student, School of Divinity

This month’s student led display at New College Library features the facsimile Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, which is on display at the entrance to New College Library.  This Codex is one of the three manuscripts to be discussed in the next Biblical Studies seminar “Window to a Sixth-Century Scriptorium: Three Luxury Gospel Manuscripts and the Scribes Who Made Them” on Friday 10 March.

Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus (N 022) [facsimile] Four Gospels; Sixth century (Possibly Syria?).
[Facsimile] Athens: Miletos, 2002
New College Library (Special Collections):
Ho Porphyrous Kōdix tōn euangeliōn Patmou kai Petroupoleōs; Folio Z.142

Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus (N) is a sixth-century luxury manuscript of the Gospels. It is one of only a handful of “purple codices”—manuscripts written with inks made from melted silver and gold on parchment that had been dyed purple. The purple colour indicated the luxury status of the manuscript, making it fit for the use of the Emperor, perhaps even the emperor Justinian.  In this particular manuscript, the scribe usually writes with silver, but he or she writes references to God or Jesus in gold to set them apart from the rest of the text. See, for example, the four letters in gold, 4 lines from the bottom of the first column on the right page. These four letters are abbreviations for the words “God” and “Son” in the text: αληθως θ(εο)υ υ(ιο)ς ει (“Truly, you are the Son of God”).

The facsimile is open to Matthew 14:26–36. This opening is an excellent example of how much the conditions in which a book is kept can affect its appearance. These two folios remained together for around 1,300 years. They were numbered consecutively, relatively recently in their history (see the numbers 82 and 83 written in the centre of the top margins). At some point after they were numbered (probably around the year 1896, but not before 1820), the folio on the left was separated from the rest of the codex.

Codex Purpureus – left folio

When the folio resurfaced in Athens in the 1950s, its purple dye had faded, its silver ink had tarnished, and the folio had crease marks because it had been folded up. The folio on the right remained protected within the majority of the codex, and only the silver letters around the edges of the page were exposed to air and tarnished. which was sold to Russia in 1896, and it remains in St. Petersburg to this day.

Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus is cited as N in most modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament. Its text is an early form of the Byzantine textform found in the majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts. Most scholars think it was made in Syria (possibly Antioch).

Elijah Hixson, PhD candidate, School of Divinity

Digital explorations in New College Library : James Kirkwood’s vision today

A guest post from Chloe Elder – New College Library Special Collections Digitisation Intern

Considering the ease with which most of us have access to information, it can be easy to forget the long way society has come in its efforts to provide resources for the public. For example, I’ve written this post on my very portable laptop in my Wi-Fi enabled flat and with my iPhone in constant peripheral vision. As we all know, before the days of the internet, our search for information required a trip to the library, but public libraries as we know them today did not exist before the middle of the nineteenth century. In the centuries preceding, the library has evolved from storehouses for records and archives, to ecclesiastical and academic cloisters, and the private collections of the elite and learned. And beginning in the late seventeenth century history, history saw a shift from the relative seclusion of these repositories toward a trend that supported the public dissemination of knowledge. One pioneer in this effort in Scotland was James Kirkwood, who is best known for his determination to provide Bibles to the parishes of the Scottish Highlands and for advocating for the establishment of parish libraries throughout Scotland in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

James Kirkwood's signature. MSS KIR, New College Library

James Kirkwood’s signature. MSS KIR 3.1, New College Library

Continue reading

Last chance to see! Given in Good Faith : Scripture

The Given in Good Faith exhibition, which highlights some of New College Library’s treasures in the context of the exhibition themes of church history, worship, scripture and science is now in its final weeks at the Centre for Research Collections. If you haven’t been to see it, now is the time before it closes on 29 July!

New College Library’s collections reflect the essential place that the study of scripture has always held in the New College curriculum, as well as the study of Biblical languages to allow first hand engagement with Biblical texts. Complementing the Biblical texts are Biblical commentaries, from the Christian and the Jewish faith communities, in both printed and manuscript form. This is the first page of an illuminated Hebrew manuscript known as Rashi’s Commentary on Deuteronomy. Rashi was Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105), an acclaimed French medieval scholar, whose explanations of scriptures were valued for their precision and simplicity.

Yitzchaki, Shlomo. Commentary on Deuteronomy, undated. MS BOX 25.2

Yitzchaki, Shlomo. Commentary on Deuteronomy, undated. MS BOX 25.2

Continue reading

Keeping it in the family

At New College Library we often receive enquiries from individuals interested in researching their family bibles, who have identified that we hold the same or similar edition at New College Library. Inside these family bibles births, marriages and deaths may have been recorded, making each one a unique resource for family history research. Continue reading

Divinity Approaches to Research – Top tips for finding Bibles

 

Geneva Bible, 1599. New College Library B.r.417

Geneva Bible, 1599. New College Library B.r.417

The University of Edinburgh Library holds extensive and rich collections of Bibles. At New College Library, you will find of early Bibles from the Scottish Reformation, Bibles in languages from all over the world and current editions of study Bibles used for course teaching. However the sheer number of items we have in the collection can make finding details of the specific Bible you want on DiscoverEd seem challenging. Here’s 3 tips to help you:

  1. If you have the full details of the version and edition you want (e.g. New Oxford Annotated Bible (2010)) use the Advanced Search on DiscoverEd to narrow down your search using as many details as possible.
  2. A search for ‘Holy Bible’ will bring up many results from our digital collections of pre-1800 early books. To exclude these digital versions, refine your search down by ‘Books’ or ‘Physical item’
  3. You can also refine down a large result set by library location (New College Library), date and language.

Today’s question for postgraduate students on the Divinity Approaches to Research course is :

“At what shelfmark would you find the principal collections of Greek New Testaments at New College Library? Use DiscoverEd to help you find the answer, or come into New College Library to explore.”

[Example : BJ is the shelfmark for Ethics]

Tweet me your answer at NewCollegeLibrarian@cloverodgers or email me on Christine.Love-Rodgers@ed.ac.uk

A winner will be drawn on Friday 2 Oct from all correct answers received and they will receive a mystery prize!

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

New Testaments from history

At the beginning of next month, the University of Edinburgh welcomes the Annual Meeting of the British New Testament Society, which will take place on 3- 5 Sept 2015. Currently on display in New College Library are three notable New Testaments from our Special Collections. Continue reading

Reformation Revisited

Friends of the Reformation Museum, GenevaWe were pleased to host a recent visit from the Friends of the Reformation Museum in Geneva at New College Library. The Friends were delighted to be able to view a selection of treasures from the Library’s Special Collections in the Funk Reading Room. These included Andrew Melville’s Bible, an early Greek New Testament, a Bassandyne Bible and a Geneva Bible. Their packed programme for the rest of the day included singing a psalm from the Wode Psalter in Greyfriar’s Kirk.

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Travel back 500 years with rare Hebrew book from New College Library

 Perush ha-Torah / leha-Rav rabenu Mosheh bar Nahman ... [1514]

Perush ha-Torah / leha-Rav rabenu Mosheh bar Nahman … [1514] פירוש התורה / להרב רבינו משה ב״ר נחמן.

This early commentary on the Pentateuch, published in 1514 has travelled all the way to Latvia to be part of the exhibition “1514. The Book. 2014“. On display until April 2015 at the National Library of Latvia, the exhibition includes 80 books published in 1514. Why 1514? The exhibition creators identified 1514 as a year of great change, 60 years after Gutenberg and on the cusp of the Reformation in Europe. The exhibition is “an opportunity to view the European cultural space in terms of a single year”.

The author, of this work, Perush-ha Torah,  was Rabbi Moses Ben Nahman or Nahmanides (1195-1270). He was a Spanish rabbi and leading scholar of Talmudic literature in the mediaeval period. This book is just one of the early works of Jewish scholarship in the Dalman-Christie collection of Hebrew books, which was recently catalogued as part 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.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

Dal-Chr 15r