14 Apr 2017

A Greek First Edition and its Manuscript Exemplar


In addition to books that are overtly "treasures", the exhibition includes a number that require the visitor to look closely in order to understand why they are so special, unusual, or important. The great interest of two such books only becomes apparent when they are placed side by side.

2 Mar 2017

The Trilingual Library: Latin

MS 50 and MS 84, as exhibited together at the Folger
Printed books and manuscripts in Latin occur in every section of the exhibition, except those devoted exclusively to Greek and Hebrew books, so it did not seem necessary to include many in Section II, specifically devoted to "Latin", one of the three main languages of the Trilingual Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

In the Folger arrangement this section consists of two pairs of books. I hope to devote a blog post to each pairing, of which this is the first.

18 Feb 2017

"Pray for the soul ..."


A large number of the books listed in the 1589 catalogue of the Library (to be the subject of a later blog post) can be conclusively identified with books still in the collection today, thanks to the fact that they include inscriptions recording that they were given by Richard Fox, who died in 1528: they ask readers to pray for the soul of Richard Fox, former bishop of Winchester, founder of Corpus Christi College, who is recorded as having given the book. 

5 Feb 2017

St Jerome and the Three Languages of the Bible


A theme that runs through much of the exhibition is the ambition of Richard Fox, the College's Founder, and John Claymond, its first President, to form a tri-lingual library, just as one had been founded at Alcalá de Henares, Spain, about a decade earlier in 1508. (At exactly the same time that Fox was founding the College, Erasmus was helping to found the Collegium Trilingue at Leuven, in the Netherlands, in 1517-18; Melancthon became the first professor of Greek at Wittenberg, Germany, in 1518; and a similar trilingual college would be founded in Paris in 1530.)

The importance of Greek, in addition to Latin, was obvious in the new intellectual climate of Renaissance England, with its increased interest in Classical texts and the increased availability of such texts in relatively inexpensive printed editions. Greek is also the language of the New Testament. Similarly, Hebrew is the original language of most of the rest of the Bible: if Christian scholars wanted to properly understand and edit the text, or if they wanted to understand Jewish interpretations of the Scriptures, they needed to learn the language.