Jewish Studies Collections at New College Library : archives

Currently on display at New College Library for the British Association for Jewish Studies Conference to Edinburgh at New College is this lovely manuscript item from New College’s historic archive collections, originally coming from the Library of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

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

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.

The New College Library archives hold the papers of Old Testament and Hebrew and Semitic Languages scholars such as Prof Oliver S Rankin (1885-1956), which contains many writings in German, teaching notes and notes on Jewish festivals, Prof John Duncan (1796-1870) and Prof Norman W Porteous (1898-2003). These papers are important sources for researching Christian academic engagement with the Jewish people and Jewish-Christian Relations. Continue reading

Jewish Studies Collections at New College Library : nineteenth and twentieth centuries

The British Association for Jewish Studies Conference to Edinburgh at New College today covers a wide range of topics under its theme of ‘Jews on the Move’ including the theme of Jewish-Christian relations. New College Library’s collections from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provide a window into Jewish-Christian relations, particularly through travel writing, and through development of missions to Jews in the Middle East.

Bible Plants, 1887

New College Library’s collections are rich in the area of nineteenth century Christian encounters with Jews, usually in the form of mission to Jewish communities. The New College object collections include objects collected from trips to the Holy Land, including the pressed flower album of ‘Bible Plants’ above, phylacteries, a prayer shawl and a scale model of the Temple of Jerusalem. The book and archive collections include some fascinating materials from the Church of Scotland’s development of missions to Jews in the Middle East, including books, archives and objects relating to Rev. Andrew A. Bonar and Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. Bonar and McCheyne were appointed by the Church of Scotland in 1838 as part of a deputation to visit Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East, with a view to future mission activity.

Books from the William Foakes Jackson Collection

The William Fulton Jackson Collection preserves the collection of man who was an enthusiastic armchair traveller to the Holy Land, with a popular, rather than academic interest in Israel and Palestine. His collection also includes many works on Jewish Studies, including encyclopedias and dictionaries, and demonstrates a keen interest in understanding Jews and Judaism.

New College Library’s Pamphlets Collection of over 35,000 items reflects a deliberate policy from the foundation of New College library in 1843 to collect pamphlets and ephemera on historical, religious and current issues. The collection includes these three pamphlets are examples of the publisher Victor Gollancz’s campaign to draw attention to the plight of the Jews in Europe and to demand that the British Government provide rescue and sanctuary for Jewish victims.

Nazi massacres of the Jews & others : some practical proposals for immediate rescue made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Rochester in speeches on March 23rd 1943 in the House of Lords. London, Gollancz, 1943. Z.h.30/24

One of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in 1942, Temple was at the forefront of the campaign to draw attention to the plight of the Jews in Europe and to demand that the British Government provide rescue and sanctuary for Jewish victims. His speech urges:

The Jews are being slaughtered at the rate of tens of thousands a day on many days … we cannot rest as long as there is any sense among us that we are not doing all that might be done.”

Sadly no changes to refugee policy were made by the British Government and after William Temple died in 1944, the impetus for rescuing the Jews did not continue.

“Nowhere to lay their heads” : the Jewish tragedy in Europe and its solution. London : Gollancz, 1945. Z.h.30/33

“Let my people go” : some practical proposals for dealing with Hitler’s massacre of the Jews and an appeal to the British public. London : Gollancz, 1943. Z.h. 30/1

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Jewish Studies Collections at New College library : early books

This week New College welcomes the British Association for Jewish Studies Conference to Edinburgh. Delegates are welcome to visit New College Library where they’ll find a display of Jewish Studies related items from our Special Collections..

Early Jewish sacred texts, biblical scholarship and devotional works in Hebrew can be discovered throughout New College Library’s Special Collections.

leha-Rav rabenu Mosheh bar Naḥman. Perush ha-Torah. Pisa: Bene Sontsino, 1514. Dal-Chr 15.

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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

Mission to the Middle East : discovering collections

This week New College Library welcomes delegates of the 2016 conference of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity.

I’ve been discovering that New College Library’s unique collections include some fascinating materials from the Church of Scotland’s development of missions to Jews in the Middle East, in the nineteenth century. In particular we hold books, archives and objects relating to Rev. Andrew A. Bonar and Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, and a selection of items from these collections are now on display in the New College Library entrance. Bonar and McCheyne were appointed by the Church of Scotland in 1838 as part of a deputation to visit Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East, with a view to future mission activity. Continue reading

Divinity Approaches to Research – Resources for Jewish Studies

Image from Seder Ṭohorot Mishnayot mi-Seder Kodashim im perush - Commentary by Maimonides. New College Library Dal-Chr 58a

Image from Seder Ṭohorot Mishnayot mi-Seder Kodashim im perush – Commentary by Maimonides. New College Library Dal-Chr 58a

Jewish sacred texts, biblical scholarship and devotional works in Hebrew can be discovered throughout New College Library’s Special Collections. Continue reading

Jewish scholarship on display at New College Library

Babylonian Talmud. Sulzbach,1766. Folio, in 12 volumes

Babylonian Talmud. Sulzbach,1766. Folio, in 12 volumes. Longforgan Collection.

In celebration of the public lecture on The Bible and the Mishnah by Professor Shaye J D Cohen, Harvard University on Tuesday 5 May, we currently have Jewish texts from our Special Collections on display in New College Library.

This Babylonian Talmud is part of the Longforgan Free Church Ministers Library, an extremely well preserved example of a Manse library which came to New College in the 1960s. It is currently being catalogued as part of the Funk Donation projects. As well as this 12 volume Babylonian Talmud, works by Maimonides and Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi ha-Cohen are evidence of the importance of Hebrew scholarship to the Scottish Church.

Seder Ṭohorot Mishnayot mi-Seder Kodashim im perush / ha-Rambam. Venice : Daniel Bomberg, 1528.

Seder Ṭohorot Mishnayot mi-Seder Kodashim im perush / ha-Rambam. Venice : Daniel Bomberg, 1528. New College Library Dal-Chr 58

This image is from Maimonides’s commentary on the Mishnah which was one of the first to be published. It is part of the the Dalman-Christie Collection, which was transferred to New College Library in 1946 from the Church of Scotland Hospice in Jerusalem. This collection was recently catalogued as part of the Funk Donation Projects.

Mischna, sive, Totius Hebraeorum juris : rituum, antiquitatum, ac legum oralium systema. Amsterdam : Gerardus & Jacobus Borstius, 1698. New College Library Dal-Chr 45

Mischna, sive, Totius Hebraeorum juris : rituum, antiquitatum, ac legum oralium systema. Amsterdam : Gerardus & Jacobus Borstius, 1698. New College Library Dal-Chr 45

This is the frontispiece from one of the volumes in this six volume set of the Mishnah with text in  Hebrew and Latin. It also contains commentaries of Maimonides and Bertinoro in Latin. New College Library holds copies in both the Dalman-Christie and the Longforgan Collections.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

Rare New College Library book is an international success

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

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

 A rare and early commentary on the Pentateuch from New College Library has just arrived back in Edinburgh, after travelling all the way to Latvia to be part of the exhibition “1514. The Book. 2014“. New College Library staff worked together with exhibitions, museum and conservation staff from Library & University Collections to ensure that the volume has a safe journey. The exhibition was held until April 2015 at the National Library of Latvia. It included 80 books drawn from the collections of 18 different European libraries with rich collections of sixteenth-century publications. They were all published in 1514, a year of great change, 60 years after Gutenberg and on the cusp of the Reformation in Europe.  Opened by two presidents – Latvian HE Andris Berzins and Austrian HE Heinz Fischer, the exhibition received more than 101,200 visitors over the year, including other political leaders of EU countries such as Angela Merkel. 

This work,  Perush-ha Torah, 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 Donation 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

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

New College Library’s Torah Scroll

Torah scroll on display in the Funk Reading Room

Torah scroll on display in the Funk Reading Room

Phylactery, New College Objects Collection

Phylactery, New College Objects Collection

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.