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.
This is the remains of Andrew Bonar’s Bible, which was dropped into Jacob’s Well at Sychar in Samaria by its owner in 1839, and recovered years later. Only a fragment of the original text remains.
New College Library holds several letters from Andrew Bonar’s trip to the Holy Land, including letters to his brother James written in Jerusalem and Galilee.
This small pocket book was used by Robert Murray McCheyne to record impressions and sketches from his trip.
This larger diary was used for daily entries on McCheyne’s travels, with small sketches. This page is headed “Oh what an opportunity for preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ!”.
This portable writing desk has a well documented provenance as being formerly owned by Robert Murray McCheyne. It is lined with green felt and severely stained with ink, presumably from regular usage.
Bonar, Andrew and McCheyne, Robert Murray. Narrative of a mission of inquiry to the Jews. Edinburgh : W. Whyte, 1842. New College Library, tNV 2 BON 2
This is the first edition of this very popular work, which went through several editions.
Bonar, Andrew. Memoir and remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne … Dundee : W. Middleton, 1844. New College Library, Z.328
Andrew Bonar’s memoir of his friend Robert Murray McCheyne was even more popular than the Narrative, and contributed to his lasting influence.
Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian, Divinity
Walls, A.F. (1993) ‘Missions : Jewish’, in de S. Cameron, Nigel M., (ed.) Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, p. 590.
Lionel Alexander Ritchie, ‘Bonar, Andrew Alexander (1810–1892)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/2812, accessed 9 June 2016]