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
The School of Divinity has recently been receiving praise for the MSc in Science and Religion programme. Visitors to the Given in Good Faith exhibition on the 6th floor of the Main Library in George Square can see how this excellence in the field of Science and Religion is also one of the key themes explored through the historic treasures of New College Library. From its foundation in 1843, the new Free Church of Scotland actively engaged in current learning and debate on scientific topics such as geology and astronomy, and Free Church ministry students at New College followed courses in natural science. This is one reason why New College Library’s Special Collections reflect this dialogue between religion and science.
Brookes, Richard. A new and accurate system of natural history … London: J. Newbery, 1763. Nat. 109
Currently open on the sixth floor of the Main Library at the University of Edinburgh, the Given in Good Faith exhibition explores themes of church history, worship, scripture and science through some of the treasures of New College Library.
We chose the second of these themes, worship, because New College Library’s historic collections preserve many examples of individual and collective forms of worship. And the New College community has come together for religious worship since its beginning, and continues to do so today.
Hore beatissime virginis Marie ad legitimum Sarisburiensis ecclesie ritum … Paris: Francis Regnault, 1534. MH 193
Sixteenth century devotional works such as the printed Book of Hours ‘The Salisbury Rite’ are valuable examples of aids for private worship. Continue reading
If you visit the Given in Good Faith exhibition, currently open at the Centre for Research Collections, you’ll be able to see some of New College Library’s treasures set in the context of the exhibition themes of church history, worship, scripture and science.
For the first of these themes, church history, we chose Special Collections items that demonstrated how New College Library’s historic collections look back to the Free Church of Scotland’s intellectual history and reflect its heritage as a centre of learning for Presbyterian ministry.
Treasures from the Reformation include the first edition of John Calvin (1509-1564)’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. One of New College Library’s iconic items, this guide and inspiration for a new form of Christian life, became a hugely influential work of Protestant theology. Less than a dozen copies of this edition are known to be in existence.
Calvin, Jean. Christiane religionis institutio, totam ferè pietatis summã. Basel: Thomas Platterum & Balthasarem Lasium, 1536. TR.852
At New College Library we’ve been busy cataloguing the TR Collection, one of the Funk Donation funded projects, and over 1500 items have been catalogued so far. Believed to have once been kept in the Tower Room at New College Library (which is the origin of the shelfmark) this collection contains many early and interesting items. We’ve chosen three of them to put on display in the New College Library Hall, and using our new Special Collections scanner to capture images from them.
Ursin’s Arboretum Biblicum, a guide to trees in the Bible, is a richly illustrated early botanical work.
Ursin, Johann Heinrich (1608-1667). Joh. Henrici Ursini Arboretum Biblicum : in quo arbores & fructices passim in S. literis occurrentes … Nuremberg : Johannem Danielem Tauberum, 1699. New College Library TR.1123
We’re very excited about our forthcoming exhibition, Given in Good Faith, which uses some of New College Library’s treasures to explore themes of church history, worship, science and scripture. From its earliest beginnings in 1843, New College Library was not only a working theological library but also a rare book and manuscript library, and many of the treasures on display were donated to the Library. Items on display will include a first edition of the works of Calvin, a Bible said to be owned by Andrew Melville and an illuminated Hebrew manuscript.
The exhibition recognises the contribution of New College alumni Dr Robert Funk, whose gifts over the last ten years have allowed us to secure, develop and discover these collections for new generations of students and scholars. It runs 5 April-29 July, at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh Main Library, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
Handel, George. Messiah : an Oratorio.
New College Library O.b.2/1
It’s not every day that you find a rare edition of Handel’s Messiah in your library but I’m delighted to say that we have one at New College Library! This recently catalogued pamphlet from our Special Collections appears to be the first printing in England, and second edition overall of the libretto of Handel’s Messiah (The first edition was in Dublin.) It is also the first edition printed in England by six years. According to Elizabeth Lawrence, EUL Assistant Rare Books Librarian, “The oratorio was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and then again in London in March 1743. The publication we have, the libretto, known as the ‘word book’, was published to sell at the theatre, so the audience had half an idea what was going on. There are no copies of this edition currently on ESTC.”
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
One of our Funk Project cataloguers showed me this item The Fullness of Joy by Frances Ridley Havergal (Hymn 3926) this morning. After a humdrum week of working through variant editions of hymnbooks, this lovely illustrated volume really cheered him up! Continue reading
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