Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying

bibliomaniaBeing one given to this “disorder,” I found this history of “bibliomania” quite interesting. Perhaps you will too, whether prone to it or not. Regardless of whether you reach this stage of book craving, I hope you at least have some bibliophilia in your soul.

Enjoy the good read below; here is a start:

Posted Jan.26, 2017 at The Guardian

In the 19th century, book collecting became common among gentlemen, mostly in Britain, and grew into an obsession that one of its participants called “bibliomania”. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, an English cleric and bibliographer, wrote Bibliomania, or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance, which was a gentle satire of those he saw as afflicted with this “neurosis”. Dibdin medicalised the condition, going so far as to provide a list of symptoms manifested in the particular types of books that they obsessively sought: “First editions, true editions, black letter-printed books, large paper copies; uncut books with edges that are not sheared by binder’s tools; illustrated copies; unique copies with morocco binding or silk lining; and copies printed on vellum.”

But Dibdin himself was obsessed with the physical aspects of books, and in his descriptions paid an intense attention to the details of their bindings and printings (rather than the content) that betrayed his own love. In a letter published in an 1815 journal, he beseeched subscribers to bulk up their subscriptions to help complete a set of volumes called The Bibliographical Decameron – more beautiful than they could imagine. “I should be loth to promise what is not likely to be performed, or to incur the censure of vanity or presumption in asserting that the materials already collected, in this department of the work, are more numerous, more beautiful, and more faithful, than any which, to my knowledge, have come under the eye of the publick.”

Source: Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying | Books | The Guardian

Published in: on February 23, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

Reading the Reformation in 2017 – Suggestions and Thoughts

As we have already noted here, 2017 is going to be flooded with books on the Reformation, since it is the 500th anniversary of that great event this year. Already I have added several new titles to the Seminary library and have received notice of several others soon to come, including one from the RFPA.

Let me call attention to a couple of new ones that have come in and others that are soon to be released. That will give you some ideas for book purchasing and for gift giving in the early part of this year.

Does your knowledge of Martin Luther’s writings start and end with the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”?

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation he put into motion, we discover a Martin Luther who was one of history’s most colorful and influential figures. His story is well known, but his powerful writing is often unfamiliar to us.

This illustrated introductory guide to Luther’s life, theology, and works introduces and summarizes his major writings, such as The Bondage of the Will and On the Councils and the Church, and includes, with annotations, the complete Ninety-Five Theses. Stephen Nichols also gives encouragement and guidance for studying Luther’s ethical writings, “table talk,” hymns, and sermons. Includes a select guide for further reading.

“Whether it is described as recovering treasures of gold, removing the clouds to reveal the clearest and bluest of skies, replacing fast food with delectable and healthy cuisine, or coming out of the valley to behold the most amazing Alpine splendor, rediscovering the glorious biblical truths which were recovered during the Reformation is extraordinarily liberating and invigorating.”

The biblical teachings of the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago freed Christians from many of the same forms of bondage that, ironically, have now reappeared in much of contemporary evangelical Christianity. Many evangelicals now find themselves trapped on performance-based treadmills, enslaved by neurotic introspection, and often just burning out and walking away from the church. Whether it’s being fixated on “my performance” (legalism) or “my inner experience” (mysticism) or some other exhausting entanglement, there is, thankfully, a way out.

Protestant evangelical churches need to rediscover the liberating treasures of biblical Christianity that were recovered in the Protestant Reformation. This book encourages burned-out evangelicals to take another look–from a Reformation perspective–and begin basking in the good news and all of its vast riches. Through a series of thought-provoking essays, this book also introduces other skeptics to an undiluted and robust Christianity

  • justification-dje-2017Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed by David J. Engelsma (RFPA, 2017). Concerning this soon-to-be-released title, the publisher states:

AD 2017 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation of the church of Jesus Christ. In 1517 the Reformer Martin Luther affixed the ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, the act by which Jesus Christ began his reformation of his church. Essential to the Reformation was the gospel-truth of justification by faith alone. This book on justification is intended by the Reformed Free Publishing Association and the author to celebrate that glorious work of Christ.

But the purpose is more than a celebration of the beginning of the Reformation. It is to maintain, defend, and promote the Reformation in the perilous times for the church at present. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is so fundamental to the gospel of grace that an exposition and defense of this truth are in order always. The true church of Christ in the world simply cannot keep silent about this doctrine. To keep silent about justification by faith alone would be to silence the gospel.

  • pmvermigli-carr-2017Finally, we call attention to a new title in the Christian Biographies for Young Children series by author Simonetta Carr – Peter Martyr Vermigli (Reformation Heritage Books, 2017). This is its description from the publisher:

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1499, Peter Martyr Vermigli decided that he wanted to teach God’s Word when he grew up. After many years of study, he became a well-respected leader in the Roman Catholic Church, yet he questioned the church’s teachings because he believed they were contrary to the Bible. Eventually forced to flee Italy and the Roman Church, Vermigli joined the Reformers north of the Alps and devoted the rest of his life to teaching, preaching, and writing about the great truths of the Protestant Reformation. He lived in many parts of Europe, and he influenced many of the most important figures of his times.

This volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series retells the story of a servant of Christ who left behind a postion of prominence in the Roman Church to courageously join the cause of the Protestant Reformation. Enhanced by illustrious, photographs, and additional information about the Reformation era, this account shows young readers how God can use the piety and talents of one man to advance the cause of His truth.

In connection with this, Christianity Today posted a profitable article on Reformation reading in 2017 on its website in late December 2016. I reference it here, quoting the first part, encouraging you to read the rest to gain further perspective and ideas for your reading about the great Reformation this year.

There are so many events planned to mark the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary that sometimes it’s hard to keep track. Fresh conversations have been sparked in churches, the press, and seminar rooms. Wittenberg and other Reformation sites in Germany have been beautifully restored, even Disneyfied. Exhibitions, conferences, and lectures abound, as do articles in newspapers and magazines.

Meanwhile, we find ourselves in the midst of an avalanche of publishing, both popular and scholarly, as biographies of Luther appear with head-spinning regularity, accompanied by general accounts of the Reformation and studies of other key figures and their writings.

Source: Reading the Reformation in 2017 | Christianity Today

Michigan Service Hub Collections now live in DPLA! | Michigan Archival Association

On our history/archive day we will broaden our scope a bit and mention this news that came from the Michigan Archival Association this week.

It concerns collections of digital archive material from our state of Michigan that are now part of a larger digital archival collection – the national “Digital Public Library of America.” Below is the full news item as sent out by the MAA:

On January 31st, DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) announced that collections from the Michigan Service Hub are now live and ready to view!

Quoting from the announcement, “As of this week, the Michigan Hub partners have made 42,000 new items discoverable in DPLA and plan to add more in the future.

Michigan’s contributions to DPLA are rich in the state’s local history and culture including the auto industries of the Motor City, but that’s not all – look for collections and items representing such diverse topics as Civil War soldiers’ experiences, cookbooks, botany, and social protest posters.”

Follow the link below to the full official DPLA announcement and then on to the Michigan collections!
https://dp.la/info/2017/01/31/michigan-service-hub-collections-now-live/

And on that link you find the news reported this way by the DPLA:

We are pleased to announce that the collections of the Michigan Service Hub are officially ‘live’ in DPLA and ready to explore! Accepted to the DPLA network in 2015, the Michigan Service Hub represents a collaborative effort between the Library of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. As of this week, the Michigan Hub partners have made 42,000 new items discoverable in DPLA and plan to add more in the future.

Michigan’s contributions to DPLA are rich in the state’s local history and culture including the auto industries of the Motor City, but that’s not all – look for collections and items representing such diverse topics as Civil War soldiers’ experiences, cookbooks, botany, and social protest posters.

Take a peek below at some of the newly-added materials from the Michigan Service Hub and start exploring today!

It then goes on to point to this special item as an example of what you may find in the Michigan collection:

This Civil War pocket diary was kept by Union soldier Augustus Yenner and is one of several digitized as part of Western Michigan University’s United States Civil War collection. On New Year’s Day, 1863, Yenner wrote of the difficult conditions from a Kentucky battlefield: “Oh such a morn & day will never be forgotten, as long as reason remains, We lay in the frosty air & frozen ground…

augustus-yenner-civil-war-diary-cover-wmu-michhub augustus-yenner-civil-war-diary-page-1-wmu-michhub

Source: Michigan Service Hub Collections now live in DPLA! | Michigan Archival Association

The Latest PRC Seminary Journal

Though a few months late, the November 2016 issue of the PRC Seminary’s Theological Journal is now out.

nov-2016-50-1-cover

The digital version has been available for a few weeks now, while the print version became available the first week of January (the other digital versions will be forthcoming). Both domestic and foreign copies have now been mailed out. If you are on our mailing list, you should be receiving your copy soon. If you would like a copy mailed to you, let us know. And if you would like to pick up a copy at the Seminary, feel free to do that too.

The PRTJ’s editor, Prof. R. Cammenga, introduces the issue with these comments:

Editor’s Notes
This issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal is the first issue of volume fifty. That, certainly, is a milestone! For fifty years, without interruption, the Lord has made it possible for the Protestant Reformed Seminary to publish two issues per year of its theological journal. Founded in 1966, at a time when the seminary was housed in the basement of the First Protestant Reformed Church, located on the corner of Fuller Avenue and Franklin Street, the first issues were a “testing of the waters” to determine whether there was sufficient interest to warrant continued publication. From the enthusiastic reception of those first issues to the present day, the PRTJ continues to occupy a place on the shelves and in the hearts of those who love the heritage of the Reformed faith. After fifty years, PRTJ continues to publish scholarly theological articles that set forth and defend the Reformed faith, as that faith has been delivered to the Protestant Reformed Churches and preserved and developed in her seminary. And after fifty years, we continue to be one of the only theological journals that does not charge its subscribers an annual subscription fee. The costs of publication and mailing are covered by the generous donations of the PRCA and our readership. To you who regularly contribute, we express our thanks.

You will find this issue to be similar in content to previous issues. We include a slate of articles, two by members of the faculty of the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary, one by a fourth-year seminary student, and one by a recent guest speaker. That guest speaker was the Reverend Thomas Reid, librarian and occasional lecturer at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. This past Spring, Mr. Reid gave two outstanding lectures to the faculty and student body of the Protestant Reformed Seminary on the history and struggles of the French Reformed church. We judged the lectures to be worthy of wider distribution and he has kindly consented to prepare them for publication. For a number of reasons, brother Reid has a special interest in the French Reformed church, including the fact that his wife Geneviève traces her roots to the French Reformed. The first of those two lectures, “The Battles of the French Reformed Tradition,” is included in this issue of PRTJ. His second lecture focused on one of the important recent theologians of the French Reformed church, Auguste Lecerf. Look for that lecture to be included in the April 2017 issue of PRTJ.

Included in this issue is also the translation of the sermon preached by the Reverend Simon Van Velzen on the Lord’s Day following the death of Reverend Hendrik De Cock, the father of the Dutch Reformed reformation movement known as the Afscheiding. The sermon text was Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” The sermon is a sound, moving, exegetical work, full of practical application—exemplary in so many respects. The sermon was translated by the late Marvin Kamps. He was so captivated by the sermon that he translated it and submitted it for publication in our journal, convinced of its value for as wide an audience as possible. We agree. To our knowledge, it has never before been translated from the Dutch in which it was originally preached and transcribed.

And, of course, included in this issue of PRTJ are a number of book reviews. These are books that will be of value to seminary students, ministers, and professors of theology, not only, but to the informed Reformed believer who desires to stay abreast of the latest publications promoting—at least, hopefully—the Reformed faith and worldview. This is always a worthwhile section of our journal, and I am sure you will find it so in this issue as well.

Read and enjoy!
Soli Deo Gloria!
—RLC

It’s not too late to get started with your reading! As you will see, all of the articles are worthy of your attention.

The books reviewed in this issue are as follows:

  • Bolt, John. Bavinck on the Christian Life
  • Engelsma, David. Christianizing the World:
    Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?
  • Gordon, T. David. Why Johnny Can’t Preach:
    The Media Shaped the Messenger
  • Owen, John. Communion with the Triune God
  • Roberts, Dewey. Historic Christianity and the
    Federal Vision: A Theological Analysis
    and Practical Education
  • Sheers, Janet Sjaarda. Ministers of the
    Christian Reformed Church and
    Classical Assembly 1857-1870;
    General Assembly 1867-1879; and
    Synodical Assembly 1880:
  • Wielenga, B. The Reformed Baptism Form:
    A Commentary

Novelist Lynn Austin’s Newest Book: Holland, MI and A. C. Van Raalte

waves-mercy-austinMany of our readers will be familiar with author Lynn Austin (Chronicles of the Kings series, among others). What you might not know is that she settled in Holland, MI a few years ago and has now produced a new novel set during the period of Holland’s founding through the work of Rev. A. C. Van Raalte.

Waves of Mercy was released in early October (Bethany House) and has this description from the publisher:

Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Below is part of an interview held with her by Ann Byle and published at West Michigan Christian News (Oct.23, 2016). For the full story, follow the link below.

Q: What inspired you to write Waves of Mercy and set it in Holland?
A: My husband grew up in Holland, so when we decided to move back there two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel. Also, I grew up in the area of New York State that was originally owned and settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland for the first time when I attended Hope College. I was immediately impressed by how proud the community was of their faith and Dutch heritage.

Q: What interested you about Holland’s history?
A: I was intrigued to learn that the first Dutch sellers came here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution in the Netherlands. Since that’s true of so many other immigrant peoples over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. I was very surprised to learn how much hardship these early settlers suffered in the process of founding this community.

Q: Are the characters based on actual people?
A: The only “real” person in the story is Reverend (Dominie) Van Raalte, who led the Dutch immigrants to America in 1846. I read a collection of memoirs written by the first settlers, so I combined a lot of their stories when creating my characters. My main characters—Maarten, Geesje, and her family—are products of my imagination.

Source: Novelist Lynn Austin Talks About Her Newest Novel – West Michigan Christian News | West Michigan Christian News

Published in: on November 3, 2016 at 12:13 PM  Leave a Comment  

Lewis & Clark College Student Discovers 1599 Geneva Bible | OregonLive.com

Yesterday’s Grand Rapids Press Religion section featured the story (from the Washington Post) of a wonderful recent find in the archives of a small college in Portland, Oregon. 

You know I love these kind of stores (and finds!), and because this one relates to our Reformation remembrance this year (a 400 hundred year-old Geneva Bible was found!), we will include it in today’s posts (Yes, may also find something on the Chicago Cubs in the World Series later today we are back at Wrigley Field tonight!).

This story is taken from a local (Portland, OR) paper and news site. Below is a portion of it, along with a picture of the title page. For the rest of the story, visit the link at the end of this post.

For probably half a century, a copy of one of the most historically significant Bibles ever published sat forgotten in the basement of Lewis & Clark College’s Aubrey R. Watzek Library in Portland.

Then, on Tuesday, a curious history major opened a box, and the 1599 Geneva Bible – the Bible of Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare and the Mayflower Pilgrims – came back into the light of day.

“It’s quite rare,” said Hannah Crummé, the library’s head of special collections and college archivist. “It’s not the only copy of this particular book … but it is the only catalogued copy in the Northwest.”

On top of that, it could be said to have royal lineage. One page reads: “Imprinted at London, by the Deputies of Christopher Barker, Printer to the Queenes most excellent Majestie.”

The Geneva Bible was a leading symbol of the Protestant Reformation, Crummé said. It was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, who by 1599 had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V.

“Elizabeth I pitted her Protestant nation against the Catholic powers in Europe, particularly Spain,” Crummé said. “She allowed her subjects to study the Bible in their native English, making not just religion but the written word newly accessible to the majority of people.”

Source: Lewis & Clark College student stumbles across Bible from 1599 | OregonLive.com

Save

Save

Ground Zero Bible – 9/11 Artifact

Though this 9/11 artifact is only 15 years old, it is certainly historic. And I am glad this small remainder of that horrific event has been preserved in the 9/11 Memorial museum.

Keep in mind this is a photographer’s perspective on this Bible and on what page it was opened to when it was preserved. For all that, it is still a powerful testimony to the truth that God’s Word endures.

With Tim Challies I also say, Why did I not hear about this before?! And, along with that, wouldn’t you like to know what place this Bible had in someone’s life in that south tower? Was it the last thing he/she was reading when the building collapsed?

More significantly, what place does the Bible have in your daily reading and mine?

Mark Noll: The Dean of Christian Scholars | Books and Culture

MNoll-picBooks & Culture magazine (Sept./Oct. 2016) did an interview with noted Christian historian Mark Noll, which is available online this month. As we think about true Christian scholarship this week and the importance of history today (history/archives day), it is worth listening to what this Christian scholar and historian has to say.

Below is the opening paragraph introducing Noll and then follows a few paragraphs from the interview. To read the rest of this it, follow the link at the end of this post. And don’t forget to note the influence of the library and books and reading in his early life. 🙂

Perhaps no living Christian intellectual defies the standard measures of one’s legacy more than Mark Noll, who retired last spring as Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll began his career at Trinity College (Deerfield, Illinois) in 1975, leaving three years later for his alma mater, Wheaton College, where he would spend the next 27 years. In 2006, Noll left Wheaton for Notre Dame.

At what point did you realize you possessed an abiding interest in history?

I read history from the time I started to read and then probably read as much history during my career as an English major in college as I did English. But I’m old enough now that when I studied English, the task of setting literary works in historical context was a central task—that was before the new historicism, and before deconstruction. My interest in literature, reading, and writing was both literary and historical. As long as I have been able to read I have been interested in what happened in the past.

Is there a particular figure (or event) from your childhood that you can remember reading about who you found more captivating than others?

I remember going to the library in probably the second, third, or fourth grade, and reading all the sports books I could find. But then reading about Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, or Ty Cobb seamlessly transitioned into reading about D-Day, Abraham Lincoln, the founding of the United States, World War I, and World War II. I really can’t remember a time when reading like that was not just something that I did.

At what point did you realize history was your life’s calling?

Certainly at some stage I knew I wanted to make my living dealing with words. Lecturing and writing articles and books thus came along pretty naturally. I applied to do literary studies in graduate school and was accepted at some graduate programs. I went on to study comparative literature at the University of Iowa, but it became clearer as my own sense of Christian faith developed that I was most interested in things that the Protestant Reformers did and most interested in the historical context of literary questions. When I finished the MA in comparative literature at Iowa, I thought I should study church history. I wanted to understand the faith, and it seemed like history was the obvious way to help me do that. And then you can get into graduate school and, lo and behold, you find out you can get paid for work on such material. I’m sure I could have changed at some point if doors had closed, but by following inertia I ended up being a historian.

Source: The Dean of Christian Scholars | Books and Culture

Turning-points-NollBy the way, one of Noll’s classic Christian history books is Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Baker, 2001).

Published in: on September 1, 2016 at 6:35 AM  Leave a Comment  

Holland, MI Suffers Great Fire! (in 1871)

Making mention of periodicals that we receive at the PRC Seminary library (cf. yesterday’s post), today on our history/archive day we can report on the latest publication from the Joint Archives of Holland and the History Research Center of Hope College and Western Seminary in Holland – the Summer 2016 edition of The Joint Archives Quarterly.

Joint-archives--summer-2016

This fine little newsletter is always filled with fascinating stories on the history of Holland, MI and surrounding areas. And yes, the opening article in this summer issue is on the great Holland fire of Oct.8-9, 1871. But there is much more in it too, such as a major article on misconceptions of the religious life of Hope College in the late 20th century.

Did you know about this significant event in west Michigan history?! If you subscribed to the JA Quarterly you would! But you may also find some of the articles online free – follow the link. Or, you may stop in at our Seminary library and browse this issue and others like it.

It’s good to know your history, starting with that close to us. 🙂

Review Books – Two New Crossway Titles

Recently I received two requested review books from Crossway publishers, and today I make them available to our readers who may be interested in writing a brief review for the Standard Bearer.

"Free Grace" Theology

The first is “Free Grace” ‘Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel, written by Wayne Grudem (paper, 159 pp.). This book is a fresh look at an old error that often creeps into the church, that salvation by grace means salvation without a change of life (genuine repentance) and without demands on a person’s heart, mind, and walk (godly obedience).

In the more recent past, this error was known as the “lordship controversy,” but now it has a “new” name – “free grace theology.” It may be pointed out that this error also shows itself wherever antinomianism is promoted. As Grudem points out in his introduction, he wrote this to point out properly the nature of the gospel, true Christian assurance, and the nature of saving faith.

The publisher offers this description:

Must the gospel message include a call for people to repent of their sins? “No,” say Free Grace advocates. Is evidence of a changed life an important indication of whether a person is truly born again? “No, again,” these advocates say.

But in this book, Wayne Grudem shows how the Bible answers “Yes” to both of these questions, arguing that the Free Grace movement contradicts both historic Protestant teaching and the New Testament itself.

This important book explains the true nature of the Christian gospel and answers the question asked by so many people: “How can I know that I’m saved?”

If this book is of interest to you and you are willing to write a review on it, please contact me here or by email.

Eight Women of Faith

The second book is Eight Women of Faith, penned by Michael A. G. Haykin (paper, 160 pp.), and takes a look at eight significant women who played an important role in church history.

Crossway gives this summary:

With the majority of books about church history centering on the lives and accomplishments of men, it is easy for contemporary Christians to forget the vital role that women have played in the history of Christianity. Drawing from journal entries, personal letters, and other historical documents, historian Michael Haykin reminds Christians of women from previous generations who have helped shape the church. This book affords readers deep insights into how women such as Jane Austen, Sarah Edwards, and Anne Steele responded to challenges in society, came to embrace key doctrines, and made crucial contributions to the life of the church.

For obvious reasons, it would be nice to have a woman do the review on this book. Any interested ladies?

As always, the books are your to keep.

Save