Digital Public Library of America

Source: Digital Public Library of America

A recent email from Publishers Weekly called attention to ongoing updates at the massive digital library known as the Digital Public Library of America (see link above), so on this history/archive day we remind you of this great resource. In its own words, “explore 11,474,555 items from libraries, archives, and museums.”

You will find something of interest to you there, no matter what your interests are, so check it out today if you haven’t for a while. And, of course, bookmark it so that it is a resource you use again and again.

And don’t forget the bookshelf portion of the site, where you will find nearly 2.5 million books and periodicals in digital storage.

Here’s a video that introduces you to the “wealth of knowledge” contained in this online library.


Now Available! New RFPA Book: Gottschalk: Servant of God

gottschalk-cmeyer-2015Now that the Reformed Free Publishing Association has released their latest title – and a very special one at that! – we can reference the post they made today on their blog.

Here is the first part of that post, along with an image of the cover; follow the link below to find out more and to order the book.

This looks to be one you will want to add to your personal or family library, or give as a gift this Christmas season.

For several years the RFPA has discussed publishing books for younger readers and Gottschalk: Servant of God represents our first effort. This book is intended for junior high and high school ages. Because the story is intriguing and the history of Gottschalk is not well-known, adults will also enjoy this book and find it profitable.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Now Available! New Book: Gottschalk

Why a book on this Medieval monk? In part, this is how the author answers that in her introduction:

God was protecting his church, preserving her, leading her, guiding her. No, she was not forgotten. God was leading her throughout all of history, sometimes at a crawl, sometimes at a trot, and sometimes at a grueling gallop – but he was with her all along. Such is the comfort we receive from the story of Gottschalk. God preserves his church. As Gottschalk would say in his characteristic way, ‘It is obviously seen brighter than the sun and is more clearly apparent than daylight’ (x).

The book is enhanced by the beautiful illustrations done by the author, Mrs. Connie Meyer (see the sample pages on the RFPA blog post). Throughout are drawings from the times (Middle Ages), maps, and other period pictures of places and people.

In addition, the author has included an appendix with a sample of Gottschalk’s writings. These include some of his poetry and his Shorter Confession. Here is a short excerpt from his “A Hymn to God the Life-Giver”, in which the truth of sovereign electing grace shines plainly:

Thou dost increase and infuse
The faith which Thou dost grant
To whomsoever Thou dost choose.
Still more, Thou cleanest lepers
Polluted in their shame,
Ungodly men are righteous,
Made clean in Thy pure name;
Together with the Father and His beloved Son,
Thou recreatest souls,
All those of Thine elect,
And when Thy work is done,
Thy glory lights each one.

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 10:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Great Reformation Resources Available Today!

What can we do for Friday (fun?!) with regard to Reformation Day? Lots of things, of course. But what better way than to highlight some great book deals.

KParrBookLigonier Ministries has some great deals on Reformation resources today for their weekly (Friday) $5 sale – fantastic books (hardcover and audio), DVDs, and CDs. Check out the link below and stock up! But you’d better hurry – I doubt these items will last long!

Source: Reformed Theology Resources: Browse $5 Friday Products | Ligonier Ministries Store

Also, do not forget Monergism’s great website, with many free resources, including a multitude of Reformation resources.

Another good place to check is Tim Challies blog – he is also putting together great book lists, specially the best Christian digital deals (Go back and review his “ala carte” posts).

Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons – Steven Lawson

Source: Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons by Steven Lawson | Ligonier Ministries Blog

As we reflect on the significance of the great Reformation of the 16th century this week, we turn today to this Ligonier post by Dr. Steve Lawson on the importance of preaching for the magisterial Reformer Martin Luther.

MLuther-SLawsonThis is an excerpt from Lawson’s book on Luther, The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (Reformation Trust, 2013).

This is the opening paragraph of the post; find the rest at the Ligonier link above. Still better, obtain and read the book. :)

In the tempestuous days of the Reformation, the centerpiece of Luther’s ministry was his bold biblical preaching. Fred W. Meuser writes: “Martin Luther is famous as reformer, theologian, professor, translator, prodigious author, and polemicist. He is well known as hymn-writer, musician, friend of students, mentor of pastors, and pastor to countless clergy and laity. Yet he saw himself first of all as a preacher.” Luther gave himself tirelessly to this priority. E. Theodore Bachmann adds, “The church … is for Luther ‘not a pen-house, but a mouth-house,’ in which the living Word is proclaimed.” Indeed, Luther wrote voluminously, yet he never put his written works on the same level with his proclamation of God’s Word. He maintained, “Christ Himself wrote nothing, nor did He give command to write, but to preach orally.” By this stance, Luther strongly underscored the primacy of the pulpit.

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found – The New York Times


This item was mentioned yesterday on and I find it worth mentioning here as well. An excellent archive find with significant historical significance, this little KJV draft notebook looks to be a real treasure.

Below is part of the news story as carried by the NY Times. Find the full story at the link below.

The King James Bible is the most widely read work in English literature, a masterpiece of translation whose stately cadences and transcendent phrases have long been seen, even by secular readers, as having emerged from a kind of collective divine inspiration.

But now, in an unassuming notebook held in an archive at the University of Cambridge, an American scholar has found what he says is an important new clue to the earthly processes behind that masterpiece: the earliest known draft, and the only one definitively written in the hand of one of the roughly four dozen translators who worked on it.

A bit further in the article these two KJV scholars are referenced:

David Norton, an emeritus professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the author of several books about the King James Bible, called it “a major discovery” — if not quite equal to finding a draft of one of Shakespeare’s plays, “getting on up there.”

Gordon Campbell, a fellow in Renaissance studies at the University of Leicester and a consultant for the planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, said the new manuscript shed fresh light on how the King James translators actually did their work, as opposed to how they had been told to do it.

Studying the creation of the King James Bible “is like working with a jigsaw puzzle where 90 percent of the pieces are missing,” Mr. Campbell said. “You can arrange the surviving pieces as you wish, but then you find something new and you realize you put it together the wrong way.”

Source: Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says – The New York Times

Reformation Reading 2015 (1)

Luther's-Fortress-Reston-2015The end of this month will mark the 498th anniversary of the great 16th century Reformation, usually marked by Martin Luther’s nailing of his Ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

During this Reformation month I want to call attention to some new books related to the history of the Reformation that have recently been added to the PRC Seminary library. Today I mention two of them.

The first is Luther’s Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege, written by James Reston, Jr. and published this year by Basic Books (Hardcover, 272 pgs.). Here is the description provided by the publisher:

In 1521, the Catholic Church declared war on Martin Luther. The German monk had already been excommunicated the year before, after nailing his Ninety-Five Theses—which accused the Church of rampant corruption—to the door of a Saxon church. Now, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V called for Luther “to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic.” The edict was akin to a death sentence: If Luther was caught, he would almost inevitably be burned at the stake, his fragile movement crushed, and the nascent Protestant Reformation strangled in its cradle.

In Luther’s Fortress, acclaimed historian James Reston, Jr. describes this crucial but little-known episode in Luther’s life and reveals its pivotal role in Christian history. Realizing the danger to their leader, Luther’s followers spirited him away to Wartburg Castle, deep in central Germany. There he hid for the next ten months, as his fate—and that of the Reformation—hung in the balance. Yet instead of cowering in fear, Luther spent his time at Wartburg strengthening his movement and refining his theology in ways that would guarantee the survival of Protestantism. He devoted himself to biblical study and spiritual contemplation; he fought both his papist critics and his own inner demons (and, legend has it, the devil himself); and he held together his fractious and increasingly radicalized reform movement from afar. During this time Luther also crystallized some of his most significant ideas about Christianity and translated the New Testament into German—an accomplishment that, perhaps more than any other, solidified his legacy and spread his bold new religious philosophy across Europe.

Drawing on Luther’s correspondence, notes, and other writings, Luther’s Fortress presents an earthy, gripping portrait of the Reformation’s architect at this transformational moment, revealing him at his most productive, courageous, and profound.

Fred-Wise-Wellman-2015The second book is a new one on Frederick the Wise, carrying that very title (Concordia, 2015; paperback, 352 pgs.). Below is the overview the publisher gives on this book:

Frederick the Wise  unlocks German research to make available in English, for the first time, a full-length story of Frederick III of Saxony.  The fascinating biographical journey reveals why this noteworthy elector risked his realm of Saxony to protect the fiery monk Martin Luther and the developing reforms of the Church.   As one of the most powerful territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire of his time, Frederick’s “humanity and integrity were rare for someone of his elite status”, notes Dr. Paul M. Bacon.  “Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony was much more than simply Martin Luther’s noble protector.”

If you are looking for some new titles to tackle for your 2015 Reformation reading, these two would be a good place to start!

Western Michigan and the Dutch Immigrants (2)

ACVanRaalte-1Picking up the thread from our last post on the Dutch in West Michigan, we find this next from chapter two of Herbert J. Brinks’ book Write Back Soon: Letters from Immigrants in America (CRC Publications, 1986), about the Dutch immigrants who settled in West Michigan:

     The Netherlanders who settled in western Michigan were, of course, not the first Europeans to investigate that corner of the North American wilderness. As early as 1620 the French had used this area to trade with Indian tribes. And in 1688 Father Jacques Marquette, a missionary-explorer, founded a permanent village at Saulte Sainte Marie. Since other French missionaries organized mission stations all long the coast of Lake Michigan, it’s not surprising that in 1847 Van Raalte [image to left] and his followers met a tribe of Christian Indians on the future sight of Holland, Michigan.

Michigan afforded Van Raalte a better opportunity to isolate his colony than did the neighboring states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, all of which had been settled and organized earlier than the Wolverine State. Since Michigan did not gain independent statehood until 1837, Van Raalte was able to acquire large tracts of unsettled land for his group.

…Van Raalte’s efforts in Holland, Michigan, paralleled similar efforts among his American neighbors. The towns and villages in the colony’s immediate vicinity were all youthful and crude, having origins as trading posts or Indian settlements. Port Sheldon, the colony’s nearest neighbor, had been developed in 1837 for reasons much like those which Van Raalte cherished in selecting Holland. Like Holland, Port Sheldon had access to Lake Michigan through an adjoining inland lake that provided a potential harbor. But Port Sheldon had been organized by speculators who hoped to lure purchasers with the promise of spiraling land values. The founders constructed a huge hotel on the site and had already sold some of the town lots when the economic crisis of 1837 pulled land values down and forced the town’s developers into bankruptcy. Van Raalte proceeded more wisely. His colony consisted of settlers, not empty projections of speculative wealth.

write-back-soon-hbrinks-1986Chapter Two is titled “Michigan: A Model for Ethnic Solidarity” (pp.26-27)

Two Interesting Title Pages from the D.Engelsma Library

As we continue to sort through and process the library of emeritus professor David Engelsma (PRC Seminary), we keep finding large and small treasures, including interesting notes on title pages in the books. Such notes always tell a story, or at least part of a story.

There is rich history recorded not only on the pages of books, but also in the personal notes – or stamps – the book’s owner(s) left behind on the opening pages.

Below are two such “small” treasures discovered recently. Let’s see if you can make the connection. If not, I will do so for you.



Published in: on September 3, 2015 at 9:54 PM  Leave a Comment  
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15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker referenced this in a post today but the original post was back in February of this year. It is still worth looking up to see the treasures found at Yale University.

Below is the brief introduction to the post at the Huff Post “Religion” section; follow the link to see all fifteen of the religious treasures Krattenmaker highlights.

Yale, a place that started out as a training ground for Congregationalist ministers (whose students included none other than Jonathan Edwards) retains to this day a dazzling array of religious treasures and relics, all publicly available.

Source: 15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker

Here are a few of my own personal highlights:

gutenberg bible

Johann Gutenberg; “Biblia latina” (Gutenberg Bible); 1454; paper and 18th-century calf.

Gutenberg Bible – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Five-hundred years ago, the Reformation transformed Christianity and the Western world. What made it possible was the dissemination of the Bible into many people’s hands. And what made that possible was the printing press, which allowed, for the first time, mass production of Bibles. Printed in Latin and known for its high aesthetic quality, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book ever printed by movable type. The 22 complete copies that exist today are among the most valuable books in the world. By appointment, Yale classes get to take this priceless piece of history out of the case and page though it, like the first Protestants half a millennium ago.

jonathan edwards

Jonathan Edwards; Deut. 32:35(c): “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at each moment out of hell but the meer pleasure of God,” from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; June 1941; paper; Jonathan Edwards Collection.

Original text of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Rarely has a single piece of sermonizing conjured fear of hell like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As the story goes, this Yale alum didn’t stir much of a reaction when he first delivered the sermon (a milder, more pastoral version than what was to come) to his own congregation in Northampton, Mass., in 1741. Edwards amped up the scary parts as he began to give the sermon at other churches. “There was a great moaning – & crying out throughout ye whole House”–that’s how one witness described the effect after hearing Edwards give the sermon. The outline from which Edwards preached it out on the circuit, like the original “Sinners” sermon, resides in the Beinecke collections. (They say cursive writing is a dying art these days. Judging from Edwards’ penmanship, not everyone was great at it in the 1700s either.)

The Antithesis and Chapel at Calvin College – John J. Timmerman

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanIn the last few months we have been quoting from the fifth chapter of John J. Timmerman’s book Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987), where he describes the early years of education at Calvin College. We called special attention to his emphasis on the antithesis as it was taught and manifested at this Reformed institution.

Today I continue quoting from this section, as Timmerman relates the antithesis to chapels at Calvin. This too makes for interesting – and some humorous – reading.

The emphasis on the antithesis was also apparent in the insistence on chapel attendance. There was little surveillance in those days. Prof. Rooks wandered around occasionally, checking likely retreats; but in actuality there was little disciplinary action. There always were inveterate skippers, but chapel was generally well attended. A far greater proportion of the whole student body attended than do today. In fact, in actual numbers there were often more students attending daily chapel at Calvin then than there are today in a college ten times its size.

Chapel services varied. Occasionally, clergymen and celebrities were invited to speak, but most of the sessions were conducted by faculty members. Those humble enough to recognize their ineptitude at public speaking regularly devoted the session to song, Scripture reading, and prayer. Others, however, spoke frequently. I remember a fascinating series of talks by Prof. Johannes Broene on the personalities of the apostles. Prof. Vanden Bosch always spoke. He was a meticulous man, almost fussily neat. Annoyed at the litter dropped in the building, he once spoke on the text ‘Let him that is filthy be filthy still.’ Dr. Peter Hoekstra often illuminated Scripture passages with historical data. Prof. Rooks gave his talks in the Oxford accent he had acquired in Graafschap. Dr. Ralph Stob spoke on the same topic for quite a while, and he always assumed that the students remembered the content of the preceding speech. Prof. Nieuwdorp, a fine mathematician, gave several talks on the ‘Stahrs.’

…At its best, chapel was spiritual refreshment; at the lowest level it was a rendezvous, a brief date, a study period, or a time to sleep. For most it was an activity to participate in, not something to escape. It was a boon not a bore. Students did not often skip chapel; and neither did the professors (pp.29-30).


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