Curating Rare Books for a 200-Year-Old Library – The Boston Athenaeum

The Boston Athenaeum in 1908 (Library of Congress)

In one of Atlas Obscura’s recent email listings, this hidden gem of a rare-book library right here in the U.S. was featured. Specifically, the curator of the Boston Athenaeum, (whose motto is literarum fructus dulces – “sweet are the fruit of letters”) Stanley E. Cushing, was featured, having spent 47 years in the library.

Below are the opening paragraphs of the story of his work in this special library. Find the rest at the link at the end.

When I visit Boston, this wonderful place will be on my itinerary. 🙂

The Boston Athenaeum—a 211-year-old independent library in the center of Beacon Hill—is home to about 150,000 rare books. Some are old, and some are brand new. Some are huge, and some are tiny. Some are made of lead, some are made of shredded army uniforms, and one is, famously, made of human skin. Until recently, Stanley Ellis Cushing was in charge of all of them.

Cushing began his career at the Athenaeum in 1970, right after he graduated from college. He ended up staying for 47 years—“longer than anybody else in the last hundred years or so,” he says—working as a bookbinder and conservator, then as the Chief of the Conservation Department, and finally as the first-ever Curator of Rare Books. While in this last position, he began the library’s artists’ books collection, and took the opportunity to scoop up everything from bark cloth catalogs to anti-war tracts.

Cushing retired in late 2017 (he is now the Rare Books Curator Emeritus) but his legacy remains on the Athenaeum’s shelves, in the form of the many additions he has made to them. He spoke with Atlas Obscura about his favorite books, his chain of accidentally strategic resignation attempts, and the various priceless treasures he has rescued from the open stacks.

Source: Exit Interview: I Curated Rare Books for a 200-Year-Old Library – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on February 22, 2018 at 10:56 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Largest Library in Latin America

What is the largest library in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world? This one:


The Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro, (that is, the national library of Brazil) the origin of which is quite striking. The interesting geography website Atlas Obscura recently featured it, and today we do here – for our “Friday fun” post.

Here’s the first part of the story of how Brazil came to host this mammoth library. Find the rest of its history at the link provided.

On November 1, 1755, a massive earthquake almost destroyed the city of Lisbon, the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal. Between 10,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the city, and countless buildings turned to rubble, in what remains one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

Also lost in the quake was the 70,000-volume Royal Library inside the devastated Royal Ribeira Palace. At the time, this library was considered one of the finest and most important in Europe.

Soon after the earthquake, King Joseph I of Portugal organized the construction of a new Royal Library, and over the next half century the collection grew significantly with many valuable books and prints. Still, the threat of another major quake loomed over the library, prompting talk of moving the entire collection to the Portuguese colony of Brazil.

And here is a picture of its magnificent interior:

Inside of the National Library. Image shot 03/2010. Exact date unknown.


Published in: on February 2, 2018 at 8:58 PM  Leave a Comment  

And the Winners Are…. Announced! (*Update)

*UPDATE: Today (Saturday, Feb.3, 2018) we may finally announce the winners in the Seminary library guessing contest.

The first winner is Andrew Koerner (SE-GR PRC), who won the “how many books were added in 2017?” portion of the contest. Andrew guessed 1350, and 1,189 were added. Congratulations, Andrew, one free book of your choice is yours.

Our second winner is Dawn Howerzyl (Hope PRC, Redland, CA), who won the “how many total resources are now in the library?” portion of the contest. At the end of 2017 there were 20,578 items cataloged in the library; Dawn guessed 21,062. Congratulations, Dawn,a free book of your choice is due to you too.

Thanks to all who participated!


Last week Friday I announced a guessing contest concerning the PRC Seminary library’s resources. Here’s what I posted then:

Guessing Contest

It’s time we restored the annual PRC Seminary library guessing context! I believe I have been remiss for a least one year, maybe more.

So, on this Friday night, after giving my final 2017 library report to the Theological School Committee yesterday, we can throw the BIG QUESTION out to you: HOW MANY BOOKS were added to the Seminary library in 2017?

And, in the interests of having TWO contest winners this year, we add a bonus question: How many TOTAL RESOURCES do we now have in our library? That means books, pamphlets, and periodicals, cataloged in the library system.

ContestWinnerThink long, think hard, and guess right! The closest to the actual numbers – calculated by our infallible library program, Resourcemate – wins the prize!

Yes, the prize is …. a book – of your choice, from our seminary bookstore or from other collections we have on hand! If the winner happens to be long-distance, we will work that out. So don’t be afraid to guess away. Only once please. Using your real name. 🙂

Let’s give this contest one week – have your answer in by NEXT WEEK FRIDAY, please.

You may submit your guess either to my email address or in the comment section of the blog.

Have fun! Be a good sport!

Do you remember? Did you forget? What happened? Are you afraid to guess? How can you not be excited about this?! 🙂

All is know is that at this point we have to continue the contest due to lack of participation! Notice, I didn’t say CANCEL! I said CONTINUE it, one more week. Don’t hesitate to make your guess in either or both categories. Young and old may take a stab at those numbers!

If you prefer to make your guess by email instead of comment, contact me at cjterpstra@sbcglobal dot net.

And because it’s Friday, we end this post with a little “Friday fun,” library style.


A search for library jokes revealed this one:

Two Chickens
One day the Library was lonely with no one in it for the librarian to help.
These two chickens came through the door screeching “bouk bouk.” The librarian quickly got up and gave them each 5 books. The two chickens left satisfied.
Just a few minutes later the same two chickens come through the door with no books screeching “bouk bouk.” The librarian once again jumps up and gives each chicken 15 books this time. The chickens leave satisfied once again.
Then again for the third time the chickens return screeching “bouk bouk” But this time being suspicious the librarian gives each chicken only one book because they have still have not returned the other books.
As the chickens leave, the librarian slowly follows behind to see where all the books are going.
The chickens come to a stop and start throwing the books into a pond where some frogs grab the books and throw them behind their back croaking “red-it red-it”
Published in: on January 26, 2018 at 9:33 PM  Comments (6)  

Seminary Library Guessing Contest! Plus, 4th quarter books added in 2017!

Guessing Contest

It’s time we restored the annual PRC Seminary library guessing context! I believe I have been remiss for a least one year, maybe more.

So, on this Friday night, after giving my final 2017 library report to the Theological School Committee yesterday, we can throw the BIG QUESTION out to you: HOW MANY BOOKS were added to the Seminary library in 2017?

And, in the interests of having TWO contest winners this year, we add a bonus question: How many TOTAL RESOURCES do we now have in our library? That means books, pamphlets, and periodicals, cataloged in the library system.

ContestWinnerThink long, think hard, and guess right! The closest to the actual numbers – calculated by our infallible library program, Resourcemate – wins the prize!

Yes, the prize is …. a book – of your choice, from our seminary bookstore or from other collections we have on hand! If the winner happens to be long-distance, we will work that out. So don’t be afraid to guess away. Only once please. Using your real name. 🙂

Let’s give this contest one week – have your answer in by NEXT WEEK FRIDAY, please.

You may submit your guess either to my email address or in the comment section of the blog. Have fun! Be a good sport!


And now, that list of significant books added to the library in the 4th quarter of last year (October – December 2017). Remember, this is not an exhaustive list but only some of the books from various categories I highlighted for their significance. Maybe the list will give you an idea of what to read next. That would make your librarian very pleased. 🙂

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical theology

  • Opening Up the Bible: Opening Up Proverbs / Jim Newheiser. Leominster, England: Day One Publications, 2008.
  • Teach the Text Commentary Series:
  • Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT & NT (IVP) – Hebrews, James / T.George
  • Reformed Expository Commentaries: Revelation / Richard D. (Richard Davis) Phillips, 1960-. ; G. Ryken Phillips.; 1st-hc, Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing

Individual Titles

  • How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation / Stanley E. Porter — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013 (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)
  • Mighty to Save: A Study in Old Testament Soteriology / T. V. Farris — 1st-hc. — Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, c1993.
  • The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared In Honor Of Oswald Thompson Allis / Oswald T. Allis, (Oswald Thompson) , 1880-1973; John H. Skilton; Milton C. Fisher — 1st-hc. — Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1974.
  • Judges and Ruth / Robert A. Watson, 1845-1921; W. Robertson Nicoll. — 1st-hc. — London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1898 (The Expositor’s Bible)
  • Ruth : A New Translation With Introduction, Notes, And Commentary / Edward F. Campbell, (Edward Fay); William F. and Daniel N. Freedman Albright. — 1st-hc. — Garden City, NY : Doubleday, 1975.
  • The Book of Job: With Notes, Introduction and Appendix / A. B. Davidson, (Andrew Bruce), 1831-1902. ; J. J. Stewart (John James Stewart) Perowne, 1823-1904. — 1st-hc. — Cambridge [Eng.]: The University Press, 1889 (Letis collection)
  • As Rich as Job / C. Bijl — 1st Engl – pb. — Kampen : Van den Berg, 1989.
  • Malachi: A Prophet in Times of Despair / Baruch Maoz. — reprint-pb. — Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, c2011, 2016 (Founders Study Guide Commentary)
  • Heirs of Paul : Paul’s Legacy in the New Testament and in the Church Today / Johan Christiaan Beker — 1st-reprint-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K. : William B. Eerdmans Pub., 1996, c1991.
  • 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James / Leon Morris. — reprint-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1970 (Scripture Union Bible Study Books)
  • James: Bible Study Commentary / Curtis Vaughan. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapds, MI : Zondervan, 1969.
  • The Overcomers: The Unveiling of Hope, Comfort, and Encouragement in the Book of Revelation / Chuck Colclasure; D. James (Dennis James) Kennedy, 1930-2007. — 1st-pb. — Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, c1981.
  • The Apocalypse: A Reading of the Revelation of John / Charles H. Talbert — 1st-pb. — Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, c1994.

Church History/Biography

  • Twentieth-Century Dictionary of Christian Biography / James D. Douglas; A. Scott Moreau; Walter A. Elwell. — 1st-hc. — Carlisle, Cumbria, England/Grand Rapids, MI: Paternoster Press; Baker Books, c1995.
  • Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe / Brad S. (Brad Stephan) Gregory — 1st-pb. —  Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999 (Harvard Historical Studies ; 134)
  • Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World / Eric. Metaxas. — 1st-hc. — New York: Viking, 2017.
  • Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography / Herman J. Selderhuis, 1961-. — 1st-hc. — Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017
  • Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation: The Unconventional Life of Katharina Von Bora / Ruth Tucker — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
  • George Wishart: Scholar, Saint, Reformer, Martyr / St. Mary’s College; John Knox, ca. 1514-1572. — 1st. — 1946 : University Press, St. Andrews (Letis collection)
  • Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions / Timothy J. Wengert, ed.; Mark A. Granquist; Robert Kolb — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • Heralds of the Reformation: Thirty Biographies of Sheer Grace / Richard M. Hannula — 1st-pb. — Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2016.
  • The Protestant Reformation and World Christianity: Global Perspectives / Dale T. Irvin, ed.; Charles Amjad-Ali; Joel M. Cruz; Norman A. Hjelm, Philip D. Krey, William G. Rusch. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : William B. Eerdmans, 2017 (Reformation Resources, 1517-2017)
  • Wittenberg Meets the World: Reimagining the Reformation at the Margins / Alberto L. Garcia; John Nunes. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2017.
  • A Short Life of Martin Luther / Thomas. Kaufmann; Norman A. Hjelm, Philip D. Krey, William G. Rusch — 1st Engl-pb. — Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2016 (Reformation Resources, 1517-2017)
  • For Christ’s Crown: Sketches of Puritans and Covenanters / Richard M. Hannula. — 1st-pb. — Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2014.
  • Galley Slave / Jean Marteilhe, 1684-1777; Vincent. McInerney. — abridged reprint-hc. — Barnsley: Seaforth, 2010 (a Huguenot story).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian, Christian, Man for His Time; A Biography / Eberhard Bethge, 1909-2000; Victoria Barnett — Rev. ed.-pb. — Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, c2000
  • Cosmos in the Chaos: Philip Schaff’s Interpretation of Nineteenth-Century American Religion / Stephen Ray Graham; Martin E. Marty — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, c1995.

Creeds/Confessions/History of

  • Faith of Our Fathers: A Popular Study of the Nicene Creed / L. Charles. Jackson. — 1st-pb. — Moscow, ID: Canon Press, c2007.

Dogmatics/Theology/Historical Theology

  • Was the Reformation a Mistake? Why Catholic Doctrine Is Not Unbiblical / Matthew Levering; Kevin J. Vanhoozer — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
  • From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention: What Hath Geneva to Do With Nashville? / Thomas K. Ascol; Roger Nicole — Revised-hc. — Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2013.
  • Whatever Happened to the Reformation? / Gary L. W. Johnson; R. Fowler White; R. C. (Robert Charles) Sproul — 1st-pb. — Phillipsburg, NJ : P & R, c2001.
  • Martin Luther and the Seven Sacraments: A Contemporary Protestant Reappraisal / Brian C. Brewer. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2017.
  • Roman But Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years After the Reformation / Kenneth J. Collins. ; Jerry L. Walls. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2017.
  • The Authoritative Inspiration of Holy Scripture: As Distinct from the Inspiration of Its Human Authors / C. H. Waller; J. C. (John Charles) Ryle, 1816-1900. — 1st-hc. —  London: Blackie & Son, 1887 (Letis collection)
  • God’s Inspiration of the Scriptures / William Kelly, 1821-1906. — 2nd-hc. — London : F. E. Race, 1908 (Letis collection)
  • The Inspiration and Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures. / John. Urquhart. — 1st-hc. — London : Marshall brothers, 1895 (Letis collection)
  • The Birth of Modern Critical Theology: Origins and Problems of Biblical Criticism in the Seventeenth Century / Klaus Scholder. — 1st-pb. — London – Philadelphia: SCM Press ; Trinity Press International, 1990 (Letis collection)
  • Studies in Reformed Theology and History: The Disputations of Baden, 1526 and Berne, 1528: Neutralizing the Early Church / Irena Backus; David Willis-Watkins. — Winter 1993-pb. — Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism / John H. Gerstner; R. C. (Robert Charles) Sproul; Don Kistler — 3rd-pb. — Draper, VA: Apologetics Group, 2009.
  • The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ: An Assessment of the Reformation and ‘New Perspectives’ on Paul / Cornelis P. Venema — 1st-hc. — Edinburgh : Banner of Truth Trust, c2006.
  • Getting the Garden Right: Adam’s Work and God’s Rest in Light of Christ / Richard C. Barcellos; Thomas K. Ascol — 1st-pb. — Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2017.
  • The Pathway of Holiness: A Guide for Sinners / John White, 1924 – 2002. — 1st-pb. — Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1996.
  • Gleanings in the Scriptures: Man’s Total Depravity / Arthur W. Pink, 1886-1952. — 1st-hc. — Chicago: Moody Press, 1969.
  • The Royal Priesthood of the Faithful: An Investigation of the Doctrine from Biblical Times to the Reformation. / C. Cyril (Charles Cyril) Eastwood — 1st-hc. — Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Pub. House, 1963.
  • The Priesthood of All Believers: An Examination of the Doctrine from the Reformation to the Present Day / C. Cyril (Charles Cyril) Eastwood — 1st-hc. — Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Pub. House, 1962.
  • Made in America: The Shaping of Modern American Evangelicalism / Michael Scott. Horton. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, c1991.


  • You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit / James K. A. Smith — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016.
  • Morality After Calvin: Theodore Beza’s Christian Censor and Reformed Ethics / Kirk M. Summers — 1st-hc. — New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2017 (Oxford Studies In Historical Theology)
  • Introducing Protestant Social Ethics: Foundations in Scripture, History, and Practice / Brian J. Matz. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2017.

Practical Theology/Missions

  • Portraits of a Pastor: The 9 Essential Roles of a Church Leader / Jason K. Allen. ; Daniel L. Akin; Jared C. Wilson; Jason K. Allen — 1st-pb. — Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017.
  • Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life / Robert W. Kellemen — 1st-pb. — Greensboro, NC : New Growth Press, 2017.
  • The Whole Church Sings: Congregational Singing in Luther’s Wittenberg / Robin A. Leaver. ; John D. Witvliet — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2017  (Calvin Institute Of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series)
  • The Taste of Sabbath: How to Delight in God’s Rest / Stuart W. Bryan. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, c2009.
  • Let the Waters Roar: Evangelists in the Gulag / G. P. Vins, (Georgii Petrovich) — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, c1989.
  • Race and Redemption: British Missionaries Encounter Pacific Peoples, 1790-1920 / Jane Samson; R.E. and Brian Stanley Frykenberg, eds. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, Michigan : William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.
  • What Is Anglicanism? / Urban T. Holmes, III , 1930-1981. — 1st-pb. — Wilton, Conn. : Morehouse-Barlow Co., c1982.
  • Reaching Muslims for Christ / William J. Saal; Warren W. Wiersbe — 1st-pb. — Chicago : Moody Press, 1993, c1991.
  • The Mission of the Church: Five Views in Conversation / Craig Ott, editor. ; Stephen B. Bevans; Darrell L. Guder — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2016.
  • Thou Holdest My Right Hand: On Pastoral Care of the Dying / D. Los; Theodore Plantinga, Transl. — 1st-pb. — Neerlandia, AB; Pella, IA: Inheritance Publications, c1994 (Pastoral Perspectives II) vol. 2

Misc. (Culture, Education, Family, Marriage, Music, Politics, Science, etc.)

  • Engaging the Culture, Changing the World: The Christian University in a Post-Christian World / Philip W. Eaton — 1st-pb. — Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, c2011.
  • Good News of the Kingdom Coming: The Marriage Of Evangelism And Social Responsibility / J. Andrew. Kirk. — 1st-pb. — Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, c1983.
  • On Rebellion / John Knox, ca. 1514-1572; Roger A. Mason — 1st-reprint-pb. — Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, c1994 (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance, and Discipleship in the Music of Bach / Calvin Stapert; John D. Witvliet — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans, c2000 (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series)
  • What Is Creation Science? / Henry M. Morris, 1918-2006. ; Gary. Parker. ; Dean H. Kenyon. — Rev. & expanded-pb. — El Cajon, CA: Master Books, c1987.
  • Refuting Evolution 2 / Jonathan D. Sarfati — 1st-pb. — Green Forest, AR : Master Books, c2002.
  • The Challenge of Our Age / Hendrik. Hart. — 1st-pb. — Toronto : Association for the Advancement of Christian Studies, 1968 (Christian Perspectives Series ; 1967/1968)
  • The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why? / Gary Thomas. — 1st-pb. — Colorado Springs, CO : David C Cook, 2013.
Published in: on January 19, 2018 at 9:03 PM  Leave a Comment  

Friday Fun(ny)


A classmate and I were walking past a poster in our school hallway. It featured a photo of Einstein with the words ‘Even Einstein Read Books.”

My friend was amazed: ‘I didn’t know Einstein’s first name was Evan.’

Found and read in a recent issue of Reader’s Digest while waiting at my dad’s physical therapy session this week. I simply couldn’t resist sharing it with you. 🙂

Published in: on January 12, 2018 at 10:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

Recent Additions to the PRC Seminary Library (3rd Quarter 2017)

SemLibrary2In October of this year I submitted the following list of books to the Theological School Committee of the PRC Seminary. It is a list of significant books obtained and processed for the third quarter of this year, covering July to Sept. Not intended to be exhaustive but selective, the list highlights some of the more important additions to our library.

The list also is sent, of course, to our faculty and students, so that they can have an idea of what is being added for their benefit. I trust the list will serve to benefit you readers too. Not simply so you can see how your monies are being spent, but also so that you may find something to use and read for your personal growth.

I divide the list into the following categories to help organize the books. The somewhat unique formatting follows the way the books are catalogued in the program I use (Resourcemate).

Happy browsing!

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ theology

  • Focus on the Bible Series: Job: The Mystery of Suffering and God’s Sovereignty / Richard P. Belcher, Jr. — 1st-pb. — Fearne, Ross-shire, GB : Christian Focus, 2017.
  • God’s Word for YouJohn 1-12 for You / Josh. Moody; Andreas J. Kostenberger. — 1st-hc. — England: Good Book Company, 2017.
  • Mentor Commentary: Psalms: Volume 1 – Psalms 1 – 72 & Volume 2 – Psalms 73 – 150/ Allan M. Harman – Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Mentor (Christian Focus), 2011.
  • Teach the Text Commentary Series – Ecclesiastes and Song Of Songs / Edward M. Curtis. — 1st – hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013.
  • Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT & NT (IVP) – I Corinthians /S. Manetsch
  • Welwyn Commentary: The Book of Psalms: From Suffering to Glory; Volume 1: Psalms 1 – 72 – The Servant-King / Philip Eveson. EP BOOKS, 2014.

Individual Titles

  • Justified by Faith: Study Outlines on Romans / Johannes Francke — 1st-pb. — London, Ontario: Inter League Publication Board, 1991.
  • Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms / David Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Christopher Catherwood. — 1st U.S.-pb. – Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005.
  • A History of the Bible as Literature: Volume 1: From Antiquity to 1700 / David. Norton — 1st-hc. — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993 [Letis collection]
  • A History of the Bible as Literature: Volume 2: From 1700 to the Present Day / David. Norton — 1st-hc. — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993 [Letis].
  • The History of the Higher Criticism of the New Testament: Being the History of the Process Whereby the Word of God Has Won the Right To Be Understood / Henry S. Nash, 1854-1912. ; Shailer Mathews. — 2nd-hc. —  New York: Macmillan, 1906 [Letis collection]
  • The Old Testament Explained and Applied. / Gareth. Crossley — 1st – reprint – hc. — Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2002.
  • The Christ of Wisdom: A Redemptive-Historical Exploration of the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament / O. Palmer. Robertson; Walter C. Kaiser. — 1st-pb. — Phillipsburg, N J: P & R Publishing, 2017.
  • Knowing God in the Last Days: Commentary on 2 Peter / Mark H. Hoeksema. — 1st-hc. — Jenison, MI : Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2017.
  • Divine Sabbath Work / Michael H. Burer; Richard S. Hess — 1st-hc. — Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012 (Bulletin For Biblical Research Supplements) vol. 5
  • What Christians Believe About the Bible / Donald K. McKim. — 1st-pb. – Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1985.
  • Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture : A Student’s Guide to New Testament Textual Criticism / J. Harold (Jacob Harold) Greenlee, 1918-. — 1st – pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1985.
  • Stump Kingdom : Isaiah 6 – 12 / Dale R. Davis. — 1st-pb. — Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications.

Church History/Biography

  • Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World / Brad S. Gregory, 1963-. — 1st-hc. — San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2017.
  • The Ninety-Five Theses in Their Theological Significance / Benjamin B. Warfield, 1851-1921. — Solid Ground Christian Books, 2017. (Solid Ground Reformation 500 Title)
  • Maarten Luther: Doctor Der Heilige Schrift, Reformator Der Kerk. / Willem J. Kooiman, 1903-1968 — 2nd-hc. — Amsterdam : W. ten Have, 1948
  • Luther and His Katie / Dolina. MacCuish. — reprint-pb. — Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, c1983.
  • Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism / Thomas Albert Howard, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Introducing Tyndale: An Extract from Tyndale’s “An Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue” / William Tyndale, d. 1536; John Piper; Robert J. Sheehan — 1st-pb. — Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2017.
  • Ulrich Von Hutten and the German Reformation / Hajo Holborn, 1902-1969. ; Roland H. Bainton, trans. — 1st Harper ed. – pb. — New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1937.
  • The Counter-Reformation / Arthur G. Dickens — 1st – pb. — London: Thames & Hudson, 1968 [Letis collection]
  • The Catholic Reformation / Michael A. Mullett — 1st-pb. — London: Routledge, 1999.
  • The Counter-Reformation, 1500-1600 / B. J. Kidd — 1st-hc. — London : Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1933 [Letis collection]
  • The Censorship of the Church of Rome and Its Influence upon the Production and Distribution of Literature: A Study of the History of the Prohibitory and Expurgatory Indexes, Together with Some Consideration of the Effects of Protestant Censorship and of Censorship by the State / George H. Putnam, 1844-1930 — 1st-hc. — New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906 (2 vols) [Letis collection]
  • Papist Pamphleteers: The Allen – Persons Party and The Political Thought of the Counter – Reformation in England, 1572-1615. / Thomas H. Clancy — 1st-hc. – Chicago, IL : Loyola University Press, 1964.
  • Inquisition and Society in Spain in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries / Henry. Kamen. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1985 [Letis collection]
  • Robert Bellarmine: Saint and Scholar / James Brodrick, 1891-1973. — 1st-hc. — Westminister, MD: The Newman Press, 1961 [Letis collection]
  • How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion / August Hasler; Peter Heinegg, transl. — 1st-hc — Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1981 [Letis collection]
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church / Malachi. Martin. — 1st-hc. — New York: Putnam, 1981 [Letis collection]
  • Revivalism and Separatism in New England, 1740-1800: Strict Congregationalists and Separate Baptists in the Great Awakening / C. C. Goen — 1st-hc. — New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1962.
  • Church History: An Introduction to Research Methods and Resources / James E. Bradley; Richard A. Muller — 2nd-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016.
  • Frisians to America, 1880-1914: With the Baggage of the Fatherland / Annemieke Galema — 1st-pb. — Groningen, the Netherlands: REGIO-Project Uitgevers, 1996.
  • Lives of the Fathers: Sketches of Church History in Biography / Frederic W. Farrar, 1831-1903 — 1st- hc — Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1889 (2 vols.) [Letis collection]
  • The Medieval Church: From the Dawn of the Middle Ages to the Eve of the Reformation / Carl A. Volz. — 1st-pb. – Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1997.

Creeds/Confessions/History of

  • Only by True Faith: An Explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism – Book 1 – Lord’s Days 1-24 / Arthur Van Delden — 2nd-pb. — Kelmscott, Australia: Pro Ecclesia, 2000. And Book 2, Lord’s Days 25-52

Dogmatics/Theology/Historical Theology

  • Thomas Aquinas and John Gerhard. / Robert P. Scharlemann; David. Horne. — 1st-hc. — New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964 (Yale Publications in Religion), vol.7 [Letis collection]
  • The Papacy in the Modern World, 1914-1978 / J. Derek. Holmes; John T. Ellis. — 1st-hc. — New York: Crossroad, 1981 [Letis collection]
  • Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief / Bruce. Milne; James I. Packer — 3rd-pb. — Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.
  • Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Views / Herbert W. Bateman; Elliott E. Johnson; Darrell L. Bock; Herbert W. Bateman — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999.
  • Jerome Zanchi (1516-90) and the Analysis of Reformed Scholastic Christology / Stefan Lindholm — 1st-hc. — Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016 (Reformed Historical Theology), vol. 37
  • Hand in Hand: The Beauty of God’s Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice / Randy C. Alcorn. — 1st-pb. — Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2014.
  • All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism / James E. Dolezal; Richard A. Muller — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  • Christ and Covenant Theology: Essays on Election, Republication, and the Covenants / Cornelis P. Venema; Sinclair B. Ferguson — 1st-pb. — Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2017.
  • Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, and Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility / Ronald S. Baines; Richard C. Barcellos; James T. Butler; Ronald S. Baines — 1st-pb. — Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2015.
  • The Anatomy of Arminianisme: or the Opening of the Controversies Lately Handled in the Low-Countryes, Concerning the Doctrine of Providence, of Predestination, of the Death of Christ, of Nature and Grace / Peter Moulin, 1568–1658. — Bound Photocopy. — London: Nathaniel Newbery, 1620.
  • On the Body of the Lord / Magnus Albertus, Saint, 1193?-1280; Albert M. Surmanski, transl.; Gregory F. LaNave — 1st-hc. — Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2017 (Fathers Of The Church – Mediaeval Continuation), v.17
  • Predestination / Howard G. Hageman, 1921-1992. — 1st-hc. — Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1963.
  • Dispensationalism in America: Its Rise And Development / C. Norman Kraus; Lefferts A. Loetscher, 1904-1981. — 1st-hc. — Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1958.
  • Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession / Robert C. Fuller, 1952-. — 1st-pb. — New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Jerome, Greek Scholarship, and the Hebrew Bible: A Study of the Quaestiones Hebraicae In Genesim / Adam. Kamesar — 1st-hc. — Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1993 (Oxford Classical Monographs) [Letis collection]
  • Cornerstones of Salvation: Foundations and Debates in the Reformed Tradition / Lee Gatiss — 1st-pb. — Welwyn Garden City, UK: Evangelical Press, 2017.
  • Particular Redemption: The End and Design of the Death of Christ / John Hurrion, c.1675 – 1731; Iain Hamish Murray; John Elias — 1st-pb. — Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2017.


  • A Spiritual House: Reflections on Some Current Ethical Issues / W. Pouwelse — 1st-pb. — Winnipeg: Premier Publishing, 1986.
  • Like Living Stones: Reflections on Some Current Ethical Issues / W. Pouwelse — 1st-reprint-pb. — Winnipeg: Premier Publishing, 1985.

Practical Theology/Missions

  • The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments: Three Lectures with an Appendix on Eschatology and History / Charles H. Dodd, 1884-1973. — 1st-reprint-hc. — London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1936.
  • Fulfilling the Great Commission: Papers Read at the 1992 Westminster Conference / Jean-Marc Berthoud; Paul Cook; David Kingdon — 1st-pb. — London: The Westminster Conference, 1992.
  • Counsel to Gospel Ministers: Letters on Preaching, Exemplary Behavior, and the Pastoral Call / John (Haddington) Brown, 1722-1787; Joel R. Beeke; Randall J. Pederson — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  • The Beauty and Glory of the Christian Worldview / Joel R. Beeke; Thomas Derek W. H.; Michael Barrett — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  • Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers / Jim. Newheiser; Edward T. Welch. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017.
  • Messages of the Word: Sermons by Ministers of the Reformed Church in America / James F. Zwemer; John W. Beardslee; Ame. Vennema; James F. Zwemer — 1st-hc. — Holland, MI: Holland Printing Co., 1912.
  • Love One Another, My Friends: St. Augustine’s Homilies on the First Letter of John: An Abridged English Version / Saint Augustine , Bishop of Hippo; John. Leinenweber — 1st-hc. — San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken / David Powlison — 1st – pb. – Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.
  • How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth / Christopher J. H. Wright — 1st – pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.
  • Glorious Remembrance: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as Administered in the Liturgy of the Reformed Churches / Ray B. Lanning — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.

Misc. (Science, Family, Education, etc.)

  • A History of Classical Scholarship: From the Sixth Century B.C. to the End of the Middle Ages / Sir John Edwin. Sandys — 3rd – hc. — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921 (3 vols., covering all periods of history) [Letis collection]
  • History of Classical Scholarship from 1300-1850 / Rudolph. Pfeiffer — 1st-reprint-hc. — Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976 [Letis collection]
  • The American Intellectual Tradition: Volume I, 1630 – 1865 and Volume II: 1865 to the Present / David A. Hollinger; Charles Capper — 1st-pb. — New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • The Bible and Christian Education: Papers Delivered at the Educational Convention of the National Union of Christian Schools, 1925 / J. Althuis; G.W. Hylkema; H. Van Zyl — 1st-pb. — National Union of Christian Schools, 1925.
  • Acts of Synod of the Christian Reformed Church: 2017 / Christian Reformed Church in North America; Steven R. Timmermans — 2017-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI: Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church, 2017.
  • Godliness and Good Learning: Four Studies on a Victorian Ideal. / David Newsome; James Prince Lee, 1804-1869; David Cannadine — 1st-pb. — London: Cassell, 1961.

Periodicals (Old & New)

  • 9Marks Journal (Calvinistic Baptist)
Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 10:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

This wonderful library item recently was featured on Atlas Obscura, and today it is our “Friday Fun” post for this first Friday of November 2017. The editors gave this brief introduction to the post:

In the history of writing, bound books as we know them today arrive fairly late, so there are no actual “books” on this list. Instead, this is a wondrous collection of illuminated manuscripts, papyrus scrolls, and clay tablets. Some of these items you can even see in person, if you pay a visit.

Have you ever wanted to “see” some of these rare treasures? Now you can – through these images, but also in person if you wish. Find out more by visiting the link below, after reading the opening paragraphs next.

We asked some of our favorite libraries: What’s the oldest item in your collection?

When you start to think about the oldest books that a library might hold, there are any number of rabbit holes you can fall down. What’s the oldest book in any particular city? What’s the oldest book in the world? Well, what do you mean by “book”? The oldest written text? The oldest manuscript? The oldest printed material? The oldest bound book?

Librarians take these kinds of questions very seriously, so when Atlas Obscura contacted some of our favorite libraries to ask about the oldest books in their collections, we were treated to a wealth of information about the treasures they hold.

The New York Public Library, for instance, has not only cuneiform tablets and ninth-century gospels, but also a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of The Bay Psalm Book, one of the oldest books printed in America. In addition to its own cuneiform tablets and Gutenberg Bible, the Library of Congress holds one of the oldest examples of printing in the world, passages from a Buddhist sutra, printed in A.D. 770, as well as a medieval manuscript from 1150, delightfully titled Exposicio Mistica Super Exod.

Source: The Oldest Treasures From 12 Great Libraries – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on November 3, 2017 at 6:47 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

This fascinating story appeared on the August 31, 2017 email highlights of the Atlas Obscura website. It was headed by the simple title, “Librarians are amazing.” Being one and , therefore, being somewhat prejudiced, it would be easy to agree. But I will let this story from the Great Depression years inform your own mind.

Below are a few excerpts; find the rest of it at the link below. O, and be sure to look at the amazing archived pictures, especially at the end – a fine collection on the Kentucky pack horse librarians!

They were known as the “book women.” They would saddle up, usually at dawn, to pick their way along snowy hillsides and through muddy creeks with a simple goal: to deliver reading material to Kentucky’s isolated mountain communities.

The Pack Horse Library initiative was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created to help lift America out of the Great Depression, during which, by 1933, unemployment had risen to 40 percent in Appalachia. Roving horseback libraries weren’t entirely new to Kentucky, but this initiative was an opportunity to boost both employment and literacy at the same time.

…By the end of 1938, there were 274 librarians riding out across 29 counties. In total, the program employed nearly 1,000 riding librarians. Funding ended in 1943, the same year the WPA was dissolved as unemployment plummeted during wartime. It wasn’t until the following decade that mobile book services in the area resumed, in the form of the bookmobile, which had been steadily increasing in popularity across the country.


Source: The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 7:30 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Our post today may not be a very funny “Friday Fun” item, but it sure is strange and interesting.

Read on about the man who eluded librarians, library security, and police for years, stealing nearly half a million dollars worth of rare books from college and seminary libraries, wiping away marks of previous ownership, and reselling them to unsuspecting booksellers.

Below is the beginning of this tale of library-book terror, followed by a picture of one of the 19th-century travel books the clever cleptomaniac confiscated.

On the evening of December 7, 1981, Dianne Melnychuk, serials librarian at the Haas Library at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, noticed an unfamiliar gray-haired man of early middle age lingering around the card catalog near her desk. He had attempted to appear inconspicuous by way of nondescript, almost slovenly dress, but at almost six-and-a-half feet tall, with a 225-pound frame, he stood out.

Something about him rang a bell. Melnychuk discreetly followed him up to the sixth level of the stacks, and carefully observed him from the end of a row of shelving. In spite of the glasses he wore that evening, his face clicked in her memory.

A little later the article tells us more about this infamous book thief and how he plied his trade:

Far from casual, James Shinn’s approach was premeditated. It is believed that he would compile a “want list” of valuable books by reading library journals to find titles of value. Next, he would scan the National Union Catalog to determine which libraries held the desired items. He made an extensive study of library security techniques that allowed him to accumulate tools and tricks to avoid them. And he rarely bothered with a book valued under $300.

To finish reading this fascinating story, visit the link below.

Source: The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 4:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

Letis Collection Book Plates


The last couple of weeks Andrew Koerner, my new summer library helper, and I have returned to cataloging some more books out of the Letis collection.

20170705_083725While the majority of the best books for our seminary library have been incorporated from this collection, we are now working on some of the specialty books (Dr. Letis had, for example, a good number of books on Roman Catholicism, feminist theology,  and biblical higher criticism.).
20170705_152913One of the interesting features of some of the older books is the book plates in the front. Some reflect Letis’ own stamp on the book he purchased,  while others reflect the former owner, including individuals and libraries – and in one case, a convent.
20170707_112323I post pictures of a few here for your enjoyment.
20170707_112059I bought some beautiful plates a few years ago from a local book store, and have placed them in a few of my favorite books. 🙂




Published in: on July 7, 2017 at 9:44 PM  Leave a Comment