– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Posts tagged “exhibitions

Hebraica exhibition

‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn’: Hebraica and Judaica at Balliol College

Historic Collections Centre, St Cross Church, St Cross Road

Michaelmas Term 2016

A guide to the exhibition

Exhibits selected by Professor Elliott Horowitz, Visiting Fellow and Oliver Smithies Lecturer at Balliol College 2014-15.

Captions compiled by Anna Sander from Prof. Horowitz’s forthcoming essay for the exhibition catalogue.

 

Introduction

We are indebted to Prof. Horowitz for shining a knowledgeable and sympathetic light on a previously rather neglected aspect of the College’s special collections, and bringing together such a wide range of fascinating text- and image-bearing objects in different formats from across nearly two millennia. Prof. Horowitz’s forthcoming companion essay details the many connections among the early producers of Hebrew texts, particularly in (and for) the early western European printed book market, their later collectors and scholars, and the 19th century Oxford academics, particularly theologians but also historians, linguists and antiquarians, who rediscovered an interest in Hebrew language and texts at Balliol and in the University. Medieval and later manuscripts and ancient coins are also included.

Prints of digital scans or photographs are used in the exhibition to complement original material: to show tiny details at a magnified size, and as a way of presenting pages from more than one opening in a codex, or both sides of a coin or letter.

1. Thomas Kelly Cheyne, Notes and Criticisms on the Hebrew Text of Isaiah , 1868. [Balliol Broad Street 1005 g 18]

2. Thomas Kelly Cheyne, The Book of Isaiah Chronologically Arranged: An Amended Version with Historical and Critical Introductions, and Explanatory Notes, 1870 [Balliol Broad Street 1005 g 20]

Robert Scott had been Master of Balliol from 1854-70, and Benjamin Jowett, who succeeded him, held the position until his death in 1893 – as was required of all Oxford dons, both were ordained Anglican clergy. Thomas Cheyne’s appointment to Oxford’s first fellowship in Semitic and Biblical studies at Balliol in 1869 came at a turning point in the leadership of the College, as well as in the study of theology at the University, where it made him ‘the first in Oxford to teach the methodology of biblical and textual criticism.’[1] Having studied at Göttingen under Heinrich Ewald after his undergraduate degree at Oxford, he was keen to adopt German scholarly methods of biblical criticism when he returned to Oxford as an ordained academic.

Notes and Criticisms on the Hebrew Text of Isaiah was Cheyne’s first book, published in 1868, when he was already  Librarian and Lecturer in Hebrew at  Balliol College, but not yet a Fellow. The historico-critical method of criticism which he advocated required a background of  rigorous linguistic study as well as historic contextual understanding. As we will see, the study of Hebrew by Christian scholars in western Europe is a long tradition, reflected in Balliol’s collections since the early days of printed books. Cheyne notes Ewald’s scholarly influence on his own work in the introduction to Isaiah Chronologically Arranged.

3. Wilhelm Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (1853 ed, trans. Tregelles). [Balliol Broad St 1055 f 15]

Gesenius, a German scholar, had first published his Hebrew and Aramaic dictionary in 1833 under the Latin title  Lexicon Manuale Hebraicum et Chaldaicum in Vetus Testamentum Libros. That work had been recommended to Thomas Arnold  early in the  1830s, and may also have served Stanley when he began studying Hebrew late in that decade. Thomas Cheyne was succeeded as Pusey and Ellerton Scholar by an even more serious Hebraist, John Purves (Balliol 1860, Fellow 1866), who later wisely acquired the Tregelles translation of Gesenius’s second edition; his copy is on display. The Latin title of Gesenius’s dictionary  clearly alluded to Johann Buxtorf’s influential  Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum,  which had originally appeared early in the seventeenth century and was republished well into the nineteenth.

4. Nicholas Crouch (ca. 1618 – ca.1690), Fellow of Balliol. MS 455.6, an unusual piece of direct evidence of a particular person’s use of a specific book: a single folio in Crouch’s hand, neatly copied in both Hebrew and Latin, from the introductory chapter of Crouch’s own copy of Buxtorf’s Epitome, with which it is displayed.

5. Johannes Buxtorf, Epitome grammaticae Hebraeae (Basel, 1613) [Balliol St Cross 30 b 227 (1)] – Nicholas Crouch’s copy. Shown in enlarged facsimile is the volume’s contents page, in Crouch’s hand.

6. Johannes Buxtorf, Epitome grammaticae Hebraeae (first published 1613, 6th ed pub 1669) [735 a 4]

7. Johannes Buxtorf, Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum, (first published 1602) [Balliol St Cross 735 c 5-8]

In 1613 the prolific Johannes Buxtorf (1564-1629), Professor of Hebrew at Basel and ‘the  principal founder of rabbinical study among Christian scholars’[[2]] published two important works on Hebrew lexicography and grammar: the  Manuale Hebraicum et Chaldaicum, a practical abridgement of a much larger work, and  Epitome grammaticae Hebraeae,  a revision of his earlier  Praeceptiones grammaticae de lingua Hebraea (1605).  Balliol owns two copies of the Epitome, one of the fifth edition, published in 1629, and another copy published  four decades later.  Its copy of the earlier edition, had been acquired for a shilling  by Nicholas Crouch (Balliol 1634, Fellow. Upon his death in 1690 Crouch, as John Jones has noted,  “left the College the choice of all his books.” Another of those  books, to which we shall return, was  a bilingual (Hebrew and Latin) edition of three medieval Jewish commentaries on a single chapter of  Psalms.

Buxtorf’s Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum  originally appeared early in the seventeenth century and was republished well into the nineteenth. The later edition of the Lexicon represented here was edited and expanded (to four volumes) by the Dominican monk Joseph Montaldi, published in Rome in 1789, and  was the earliest edition of  the Protestant Buxtorf’s  Lexicon  to appear in a Catholic country.

8. Abraham ben Meir de Balmes (ca. 1440-1523), Mikneh Avram, Latin title Peculiam Abrae [The Possession of Abram], first published 1523.

9. Daniel Bomberg [Baumberg], printer,  Rabbinic Bible [Mdrsh shmṿl …] Midrash Shemuel Samuel , 1546, [Balliol St Cross 550 e 2]

The Mikneh Avram is a bilingual work on Hebrew grammar, written in Hebrew and translated into Latin by the Italian  physician Abraham de Balmes, and printed in a side-by-side bilingual edition by Daniel Bomberg  shortly after the author’s death. Bomberg (van Bombergen, d.ca. 1549), a Roman Catholic printer from Antwerp, based in Venice, was one of the most important early publishers of Hebrew texts in the early decades of European printing.  His introduction gives his reasons for publishing a Hebrew grammar directed to non-Jews; humanistic scholars in the Latin west had a growing interest in the Hebrew language and particularly the Kabbalah.  The book is displayed with a page of Hebrew type on the left and Latin on the right; the languages switch positions in each opening. This will have allowed the typesetters to print all the Hebrew rectos and versos together, and the Latin together – a notable feat of typesetting, and of planning the layout to get all the pages of both languages in the right order. [Balliol St Cross 0560 e 16]

Bomberg’s Hebrew press produced the first Rabbinic Bible, which includes  the definitive text of the Tanakh (‘Hebrew Bible’ – source of texts for the Christian Old Testament) and several sets of interpretive notes and commentaries.

10. Augustin Calmet (1672-1757), Historical, Critical, Geographical, and Etymological Dictionary of the Holy Bible, first translated into English (from French) in 1732, [Balliol 100. s. b. 2-4, 3 vols.]

Roman Catholic scholars such as Augustin Calmet (1672-1757) appreciated the  importance of  masoretic materials (interpretive notes) – and hence Jewish editions of the Rabbinic Bible – for  Christian study of the Old Testament.  Calmet’s   Historical, Critical, Geographical, and Etymological  Dictionary of the Holy Bible (first published 1720, enlarged edn 1730) was  first translated into English  from French in 1732. He also recognized that medieval Jewish exegetes had made valuable contributions to biblical scholarship.   In his  survey of Jewish commentators on the entire Hebrew Bible, whom he listed separately from Catholic and Protestant ones, Calmet included  the Spanish-born Maimonides, “who wrote a great deal, and everything of his composition is very much valued.” The Benedictine monk  was clearly  familiar enough with the writings of  the Jewish  philosopher  to recognize that  his Guide of the Perplexed, originally written in Arabic, could be regarded as a commentary on the entire Hebrew Bible.

In the entry on “Massorah”[3]  in  his eighteenth-century dictionary  Calmet explained that “those Hebrew Doctors…called Massorites… have counted with a most scrupulous Exactness all the words, verses, and even Letters”  of every biblical book, so that “the Reading of the Bible may be fixed forever.” One of the chief features of the Masorah,  he  explained,  was the distinction between Ketiv and Kere – between the text as it should be written and the text as it should be read. Calmet noted  that this  distinction was maintained not only in cases where spelling or grammar might be equivocal, but also if  the written form  “was a Word which Modesty forbad to use, they put one instead of it which might be read.” Perhaps out of his own considerations of modesty, the monk did not provide examples.

11. Moses Maimonides, 1135-1204. Moreh nevukhim [Guide for the Perplexed] (first published in Venice, 5311 [i.e. 1551]). [Balliol St Cross 0590 b 12]

Just as Christian scholars eagerly made use of  Jewish coins, biblical  manuscripts, and printed editions of the Bible, so too were the writings of certain Jewish exegetes and philosophers particularly esteemed. Paramount in the latter category was Moses Maimonides.  One composition that came to be especially valued by Christians  was his philosophical work  Guide for the Perplexed, which had originally been composed in Arabic – the philosophic lingua franca of medieval Jews through the twelfth century – and soon after translated into Hebrew.

The late fifteenth century translation  by  Samuel ibn Tibbon had been composed in consultation with Maimonides himself;  the Venice 1551 edition [ʿim perush Shem Ṭov ve-ʿim perush ha-Efodi ] was the first to include the commentaries by Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov and Profiat Duran.

As a  Protestant critic of Roman Catholic doctrine, the French-born humanist  Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) was particularly interested  in the chapter Maimonides devoted, in the first section of his “book of miscellaneous observations on sacred matters”  (I, 16),  to the various  meanings in biblical Hebrew of the word “rock” [tsur], which  could denote, the philosopher  asserted,  a mountain or hard stone, but might also be used “figuratively to designate the root and principle of every thing.” The figurative sense was the one that Maimonides favored with regard to Isaiah’s exhortation   “look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged (Is. 51:1, RSV),” an argument he supported by citing the  opening words of the verse immediately following: “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you.” For Maimonides this meant that “the rock from which you were hewn is Abraham your father,”  the practical application being: “Tread therefore in his footsteps, adhere to his religion, and acquire his character.” Casaubon slyly suggested  that this figurative interpretation might also be applied to the words of Jesus  in Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

12. Oxford, Balliol College MS 382. One of the finest extant examples of the complete Hebrew biblical codex (24 books), including  decorative  masoretic notes composed in intricate micrography. Given to Balliol College in 1804  by the Revd. Richard Prosser (BA 1770, Chaplain-Fellow of Balliol 1773).

The text was written on parchment by the Hebrew scribe Samuel b. Isaac de Medina and completed in Lisbon late in 1490, only a few years before the Jews were expelled from Portugal. Unlike most manuscripts and printed copies of the Hebrew Bible, it ends not with the books of Chronicles (1-2), but with the Five Scrolls, the last of which is the book of Esther. The last page of  Esther, and thus of the entire codex, was left unvocalized, leaving the impression of an uncompleted work by the manuscript’s otherwise scrupulous scribe. De Medina  did, however, compose a detailed colophon in which he gave both his name and that of  the person who commissioned the manuscript: Judah b. Gedaliah ibn Yahya. Much of the manuscript’s ownership history in the intervening centuries remains unclear.

13. Oxford, Balliol College, MS 427. One parchment membrane, text in Hebrew, the last section of a Torah scroll, containing the final chapters of Deuteronomy (chs. 32-34).  Written according to masoretic strictures , by a Jewish scribe. Purchased as a fragment in Tunis by the Rev. Greville Chester in 1865.

Chester (1830-92, Balliol 1849) amassed an enormous and wide-ranging collection of ancient and modern artefacts, both for himself and the British Museum, during his annual visits across the Mediterranean, which began in 1865. Following those visits he made numerous donations, as Gertrude Seidmann has shown, to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum and to Balliol College  [MSS 364, 366, 371, 376, 377, 427, 466]. In our exhibition this scriptural fragment is contrasted with a complete codex of a Hebrew Bible – both would have been treated as holy objects, not merely authoritative texts, by the Jews who originally owned them.

14. Oxford, Balliol College Archives, Library Donors’ Register. Open to the page recording the gift to Balliol College of four volumes by Isaac Abendana (d.1699), a Hamburg Jew of Sephardic origin. Abendana, who had studied at the University of Leiden, taught Hebrew at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later at Magdalen College, Oxford. The gift entry, which records the book’s title in both Latin and Hebrew, is undated, but most likely occurred in the last decade of the seventeenth century, while the donor was teaching at Magdalen. Three of the books Isaac Abendana gave to Balliol are obviously relevant to Biblical and Hebraic studies, including the item above, Mikneh Avram / Peculiam Abrae, which is still in the College’s collection. The fourth may have been considered to have a link to Balliol’s history via Founder’s Kin Edward de Balliol (ca. 1249-1314, grandson of John de Balliol and Dervorguilla).

15. Three ancient coins: one minted by the Jews of Judea during their first revolt against Roman rule (66-70 CE), and two of the “Judea capta” series minted by the Romans several years later, showing the head of  Vespasian on one side, and a captive Jew on the obverse. . [Ashmolean Museum, Strachan Davidson Coin Collection: HCR9562, HCR21481, HCR21499]

James Leigh Strachan-Davidson (1843-1916; Balliol 1862, Fellow 1866, Master 1907-1916), an undergraduate at the time that Chester made his gift, later became a considerable collector himself. At the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition of 1887, held in London’s Royal Albert Hall, these three ancient coins from his extensive collection were exhibited. MS 382, the biblical codex donated by Prosser also displayed here was displayed in the same exhibition.  Strachan-Davidson left his coin collection to the College upon his death in 1916; they were first held in the Bodleian, and then in the Ashmolean. With the latter’s kind cooperation, and with thanks for their excellent images, this is the first time that they are being exhibited at Balliol

16. Siméon Marotte de Muis, In Psalmum XIX. Trium Ervditissimorvm Rebbonirvm commentarii, bilingual (Hebrew and Latin) edition of three Jewish commentaries on Psalms 19 (first published 1620). [Balliol 30 b 209 (7) and 630 a 21]

Maimonidean  ideas were able to spread to wider audiences, including Christian ones,  not only through the  Guide for the Perplexed, but through the publication of  biblical commentaries whose authors had responded to that multifaceted work. Among these was David Kimhi (known also by the name Radak), a resident of southwestern France who was an active member of the pro-Maimonides camp in the early thirteenth-century controversy over the latter’s writings.

Kimhi’s commentary on the Psalms, first published in 1477,  was particularly popular among Christian scholars despite its  occasional anti-Christian cricticsms – which were sometimes softened, and which in the 1517 Rabbinic Bible were  published separately.  English interest in Kimhi is perhaps best represented by Thomas Neale’s 1557 translation into Latin of the Jewish exegete’s  commentary on the last three of the Latter Prophets – Haggai, Zacharia, and Malachi. The volume, which appeared in Paris, was dedicated to Cardinal Reginald Pole.

Siméon Marotte de Muis, Professor of Hebrew at the Royal College of France, published  in 1620 a bilingual  (Hebrew and Latin) edition of three  Jewish commentaries on Psalm 19: Kimhi, Rashi  and the Spanish-born Abraham ibn Ezra. Balliol’s copy of the 1620 volume is from Nicholas Crouch’s personal collection.

17. Jonathan ben Uzziel (active 1st century CE). Chaldæa Ionathæ in sex Prophetas interpretatio: Michæam, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophoniam, Zachariam & Malachiam, Latinitate nunc primùm donate. (first published in Paris, 1559). [Balliol St Cross 30 c 259]

Targums (Targumim) are an important genre of Jewish scriptural interpretation: vernacular glosses, paraphrases or explanations of the Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh). Parallel with the project of translating medieval Jewish commentaries into Latin,   from 1550 Jean Mercier (d. 1570), who preceded de Muis as  Professor of Hebrew at the Royal College in Paris, published there  several bilingual editions of the ancient Aramaic Targum, attributed to Jonathan b. Uzziel, on later books of the Hebrew Bible. That Targum, which combined commentary with translation, had been made widely available through the  two Rabbinic Bibles published by Bomberg, but  was well beyond the comprehension of  most Christians. Mercier’s project testifies to exegetical value attributed by sixteenth century Christian scholars to ancient Jewish traditions. Balliol owns a copy of his  bilingual edition of the Aramaic Targum on the last six books  of the Latter Prophets, which appeared in Paris in 1559.

18. Jakob Koppelman, Targum shel Hamesh Megillot bi-Leshon Ashkenaz (Freiburg) [Yiddish Targum] (first published 1584). [Balliol St Cross 560 b 16]

Not only Christians had difficulty understanding the  Targum attributed to Jonathan, which was   composed in Palestinian Aramaic rather than the Babylonian variety more familiar to students of the Talmud. In 1584, Jacob Koppelman published a Yiddish rhymed paraphrase of the  Targum to all  ‘Five Scrolls’  – including Song of Songs,  Lamentations,  Ecclesiastes, and Esther, as well as Ruth . Koppelman’s work, composed in Metz,  was published only once –  in Freiburg, 1584 and was intended, as stated on its title page, for  “men, women, and children (Jer. 40: 7).” Its dual intended audience – popular as well as learned – is reflected in the work’s bilingual nature. Side by side with the Yiddish paraphrase, Hebrew glosses were provided to explain  some of the Targum’s  difficult  terms. Parallel with its two languages, the  pages of Koppelman’s work  were printed in two colours  – an unusual and rather expensive process.  Hebrew sections appeared  in block red letters and Yiddish ones in black, set in the Vaybertaytsh font traditionally used for that Judeo-Germanic language.

19. Timberlake, Henry, True and Strange Discourse of the Travailes of Two English Pilgrimes (first published 1603). [Balliol St Cross 580 b 14]

As Calmet recognized, recent works of travel describing flora and fauna, peoples and their practices could be useful to early modern scholars  for understanding the Bible and its world  as well as translations and commentaries. Neither the scholars nor the travel authors they read had an adequate sense of how much Palestine and its environs had changed since biblical times; when the merchant  Henry Timberlake published his  True and Strange Discourse, an account of his  recent  travels in Palestine and Egypt with John Burrell, his subtitle  informed readers that it would include “notable memories” of those countries,  “concording with the ancient  remembrances in the Holy Scriptures.”

Like many Christian travelers over the centuries, Timberlake sought to show ‘how justly the Scriptures are fulfilled,” and one of his prime illustrations was that Jerusalem, as punishment to the Jews, had been made “a heape of stones” for some fifteen miles in each direction, and was “the most barrenest place in all Mesopotamia.” The only place he could compare it with in England “for the like sterilitie” was “the unfruitfull place in Cornwall, where there is nothing but rockes and stones.” Like many other European travel accounts, Timberlake attempts, not always accurately, to provide equivalent distances between places, based on his own country. Thus, “Gaza, which is the south-west part of Palestine, is from Jerusalem as Salisbury is from London.”  Timberlake’s brief but colourful account, which included descriptions of riding with ‘wild  Arabes’ on dromedaries, was frequently reprinted during the early seventeenth century, appearing seven times by 1620.

20. ‘T.B.’, A journey to Jerusalem, or, A relation of the travels of fourteen English-men in the year 1669… , first published 1672. [Balliol St Cross 30 a 22 and 580 b 14]

The semi-anonymous ‘T.B.’ prefaces his text with a “brief description of Palestine” presenting the entire country as being in a state of “utter desolation” on account of the Jews having crucified “the son of God.” This goes a step beyond Timberlake, who confidently confined the desolation to Jerusalem and its environs. The later account also provides interesting information on the fate of England’s Jews after their expulsion by Edward I.  Many, ‘T.B.’ asserted, fled to Scotland, “where they have propagated since in great Numbers.” As evidence of  the prominent presence of Jews in Scotland’s population the author cited “the Aversion this nation has above all others to Hogs-Flesh.”  This argument draws (silently) on James Howell’s assertion in his preface to The Wonderfull and Most Deplorable History of the Latter Times of the Jews, which was translated from medieval  Jewish sources and first appeared in 1652, soon proving popular in England.

‘T.B.’ does not, however, repeat Howell’s description of the state of the Jewish people since their exile from Palestine: “a kind of curse [had] fallen upon their bodies,” as evidence  to “the uncouth look and odd cast of eye whereby they are distinguished from other people.” That claim has well-known medieval roots, but unlike Howell, who wrote before the Jewish readmission to England, ‘T.B.’  would have seen Jews in person while travelling to and  from Palestine, as well as inside the country.  Although he judged the country to be utterly desolate as a consequence of divine punishment, he did not regard the Jews themselves as similarly cursed by God.

The above two items are in poor physical condition and are displayed closed, demonstrating their portable pocket size. Both are supplemented with enlargements of illustrations.

21. Thomas Shaw (1694-1751), Travels, or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant. First published in 1738; 2nd ed 1757. [Balliol St Cross Arch. F.X.13]

Countering  more recent allegations than Timberlake’s of the desolation of Palestine was a concern for Thomas Shaw (1694-1751), an Oxford-educated Anglican divine, naturalist,  and classical scholar,  in his Travels, or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant, first published in 1738. His purpose was not to demonstrate the fulfilment of divine prophecy, but rather  to question the veracity of scriptural descriptions of the Promised Land as flowing with milk and honey – i.e., as a fertile agricultural land.

Shaw acknowledged that the city of Jerusalem and the parts surrounding it were indeed “rocky and mountainous,” and had “been therefore supposed to be barren and unfruitful,” but responded that “a kingdom is not to be denominated barren or unfruitful from one single portion of it, but from the whole.”

During his time in North Africa as chaplain to the English “factory”,  an establishment for traders doing business in a foreign country at Algiers, he travelled to Egypt, Sinai, Cyprus, and Palestine (1721-22), and later visited  Tripoli and Tunis as well. On returning to England in 1733, he worked on his  Travels. His  research notes for that 1738 work (in the Bodleian)  show that he made use not only of his written impressions and drawings made while travelling, but also extracts from the second French edition of   Calmet’s Dictionnaire historique, even  before it appeared in English.

A previous owner of Balliol’s copy of Shaw was clearly contemplating a trip to Egypt, as the margins of its pages dealing with the Nile and the pyramids are  filled  with  handwritten  comments comparing his observations with those of other authorities, from Herodotus to Pococke. Other reader comments pertain to the respective uses of watermelons and camels.

22. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-81), Sinai and Palestine: In Connection with their History , (1856) [Balliol Broad Street Morier 32]

In 1852-3 Arthur Penrhyn Stanley  set off with three Oxford companions to visit  “the well-known scenes of Sacred History in Egypt, Arabia, and Syria. His 1856 work, based largely on letters he wrote while travelling,  was immediately popular; by the following year  there was already a fourth edition. Balliol owns a copy of that edition,  purchased in August of 1857  by  Robert Morier (1826-93) [Morier Collection 32] , who after concluding his studies  at Oxford pursued a diplomatic career, eventually becoming British ambassador to Russia.

Stanley, like Shaw sought to counter claims concerning Palestine’s alleged barrenness, asserting that its “countless ruins…tell us at a glance that we must not judge the resources of the ancient land by its present depressed and desolate state.”  Like Shaw, too, he was convinced that the sites of sacred history  had not changed since biblical times. Such travel was therefore a crucial component in fully comprehending the ancient biblical world.  “There is hardly any limit,” he further remarked,  “to the legitimate advantage derived by the historical and theological student from even such a transient glimpse of Eastern life which forms the basis of the previous volume.”

23. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-81). Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church (1863-76). [Balliol Broad Street 1005 g 1]

A decade after his initial sojourn in those Eastern lands, Stanley, by then Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford, was asked, partially owing to his Sinai and Palestine‘s great popularity,  to accompany the Prince of Wales (Albert Edward, 1841-1910) on his own first (and last) trip to the region. Shortly after returning from that royal journey,  Stanley published the first volume of his Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church (1863-76. As he explained in the preface, they had been addressed to his “usual hearers at Oxford, chiefly candidates for Holy Orders.”

In his initial lecture, devoted to “the Call of Abraham,” Stanley took issue with those who had criticized one of his ecclesiastical colleagues for describing Abraham as “a Bedouin Sheykh.” Anyone who had travelled in the East, he argued, could not disagree. “Every English pilgrim to the Holy Land,” wrote Stanley  – alluding perhaps not only to himself and his three initial companions, but also to the Prince and members of his recent entourage- “is delighted to trace and record the likeness of patriarchal manners and costumes in the Arabian chiefs.” He added that refusing to do so “would be to decline the use of what we may almost call a singular gift of providence.” God, he suggested – and Stanley, as he presumably realized, was not the first to do so – had intentionally held back, or preserved, the Holy Land from change so that Scripture could be better understood by subsequent generations.

24. Matthew Arnold, The Great Prophecy of Israel’s Restoration: A Bible Reading for Schools, 1872. [Balliol St Cross Arnold 8/1 and 2]

It was ostensibly in his capacity as Government Inspector of Schools that Matthew Arnold in 1872 published The Great Prophecy of Israel’s Restoration: A Bible Reading for Schools, a volume, intended  for “young learners,” of  Isaiah’s final twenty-six chapters (40-66). It is likely, however, that his decision to follow  the traditional order of chapters in the Authorized Version – and adhere closely to its language-  was intended as a response to Cheyne’s rather radical  Book of Isaiah Chronologically Arranged (1870). In his  introduction to The Great Prophecy   Arnold  acknowledged that his command  of Hebrew  was far from expert; nonetheless, he felt confident enough  to question and indeed criticise some of Thomas Cheyne’s corrections to the King James version.

Arnold was a literary intellectual of considerable weight, and  the young Balliol Fellow  felt obliged to respond – perhaps after consultation with Jowett, by the Master of the College,  who had also been  criticized (albeit more mildly) by Arnold.  Cheyne  published a  review of Arnold’s Isaiah in  The Academy, (19 Feb. 1876) in which he noted somewhat acerbically that although its introduction was “full of criticisms involving points of Hebrew scholarship,” the author’s knowledge of  that language  is as “a smoking flax” – alluding   ostensibly to Isaiah 42:3 in the King James Version. This in itself was clever enough, drawing on a passage included in Arnold’s volume. But as both Oxonians presumably recognized, the verse from Isaiah reappears in the Gospel of Matthew (12:20). Cheyne may have intentionally alluded to its derivative character in the Gospel as an additional dig at the derivative  Hebraic knowledge of his distinguished critic, who shared  the evangelist’s name.

* * *

After his death in 1915, Thomas Cheyne was  eloquently praised by the Harvard scholar  Crawford Howell Toy  for  “the variety of his learning, the vital character of his style, and his frankness and courage in the expression of opinion.” When Cheyne left Balliol for Oriel, upon being appointed  Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, the College lost  its greatest Hebraic scholar ever. The books and objects included in this exhibit testify to its continuing engagement, over the centuries, with the Hebrew language, the Hebrew Bible, and the Hebraic tradition.

Most of the information in these captions is quoted directly from Prof. Horowitz’s essay for the exhibition catalogue, forthcoming.

 

 

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[1] Joanna Hawke, ‘Cheyne, Thomas Kelly(1841–1915)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32395, accessed 8 Sept 2016]

[2] Crawford Howell Toy, Meyer Kayserling, ‘BUXTORF (BUXTORFF), JOHANNES (usually called “Father,” or “the Elder”), 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia; online edn, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3860-buxtorf-buxtorff-johannes

[3] Masorah – authoritative text of the Hebrew Tanakh, the Jewish scriptural canon and a key source of the texts in the Christian Old Testament.

 

Resources and further reading:

Constructing Borders & Crossing Boundaries: Social, Cultural, & Religious Change in Early Modern Jewish History, An Online Exhibition from the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies 2013-2014 Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Libraries. http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/cajs/fellows14/

More of Nicholas Crouch’s manuscripts at Balliol College: http://archives.balliol.ox.ac.uk/Modern%20Papers/crouch.asp

Papers of JL Strachan Davidson at Balliol:

http://archives.balliol.ox.ac.uk/Modern%20Papers/strachandavidson1.asp


exhibition archive – Ernest Walker letter

Part of this exhibition was originally a Document of the Week in Michaelmas Term 2005. It features two letters from Dr Ernest Walker to Cedric Glover, written from Oxford in August 1916 and demonstrating something of the strange contrasts of Oxford life during wartime.

Accn05-139-009a

Transcript:

August 11, 1916

My Dear Cedric,

Very glad indeed to have news of you: I was wondering whereabouts you were. Where is Ronald? [?Knox] Greetings to him, and also best remembrances to your father and mother, please!

Balliol is a queer place nowadays: I don’t suppose we shall have 20 people up next term. We went on with the regular concerts (fortnightly) up till the end of the summer term 1915, doing our Strauss and Reger and Kreisler and our songs in German as usual up to the end: but we then suspended operations, inevitably. For the last year we have been having “by and fors” (in the wide sense of the word, including any military birds of passage that could do things – some of them quite good), with the same quality of music as usual, but no printed programmes [p.2] of any kind and no audience except masculines. We got a quite fair lot of people always: though I don’t mean to say that some of them mayn’t have found it slightly strong meat when an old Magdalen man, quartered in Oxford, gave them a dozen or so of the biggest Hugo Wolf songs on end, or when I played Reger after the news of his death reached here. I daresay we may be able to go on with something of the same kind next term – there has been a steady flow of officer-cadets into Oxford, hundreds of them. But I really haven’t a notion about the future, in any way at all. The OUMC and the OUMO have formally [p.3] amalgamated (with the Holywell Room): I expect the MO would certainly have been bankrupt in isolation, and the MC would have been in a queer way: as it is, the joint society is financially very shaky indeed for the time being, but I dare say we shall keep it going more or less. The Ladies Society goes ahead as usual, except there they refuse  to engage Herschel or the Aranyis or apparently anyone whose great-great-great-grandparents were Germans. Miss Marga Deneke is on the concert committee, and has had a good many of her plans squashed in absurd fashion. It’s a queer world, and during the last two years, some individuals in it have [p.4] turned out even queerer than one could have expected.

Accn05-139-009b
 You seem to have been managing to get a lot of music added to your collection, anyhow. Don’t know of any translations of Pohl or Thayer, myself. Can’t stand the Debussy ‘cello sonata, except for very little bits of it: the man seems to have written himself out. Grovlez sent me his last piano things, and I was very much disappointed with them – just the ordinary fashionable Parisianism, I thought: nor do I care for his violin sonata, which I ran through with Miss Gates (I think) not long ago. Don’t know the last Scriabin, nor the Tcherepnine quartet: but I came across some very fine songs of T. lately. Well, I suppose some day or other we may get music normally again!

I heard from Oboussier the other day: he asked after all his friends and I gave him what news I could.

I should be delighted to hear from you again! All best from

Yours [ver]y sincerely,

Ernest Walker.

[top of p.1] (In Merionethshire for the moment, but back in Oxford next week.)

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Kamile Vaupsaite for deciphering the names of Thayer and Grovlez!]

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22 August 1916

28, St Margaret’s Road, Oxford

My Dear Cedric,

Many thanks for your note; I am quite reassured. The matter had various ramifications into which I needn’t go: as you no doubt understand that in this very queer world it is important that the whole of the Ladies’ Club’s various oddities should be kept altogether dark, for the sake of the Arányis (who don’t know anything of them), and Miss Deneke and everybody else!

I quite forgot, by-the-bye, when sending on the message to his friends from Oboussier, the Swiss fiddler who was at Worcester for the year before the war, that a relative veteran of 1913 like you might never have met him! I lose count of dates so easily as a permanent limpet here.

Accn05-139-003b

I must look up Mr. Jarnach. When this whole bad dream is over and we have more music together, I must show you some things of a wild young Anglo-French creature, a Home Student at Cherwell Edge, who is working with me. She is liable to come the most ultra-modernist croppers any minute, and I doubt if her songs can be sung in tune: but she produced a few weeks ago a [B flat?] Prelude that seems to be really beautiful in its way, and quite unlike anything I know.

I am at present engaged in some music for a children’s play by Mrs. Balfour (Harold Joachim’s sister). It is all about vegetables, and one has to represent musically the essential characteristics of carrots and cabbages and so on: I am rather pleased with a very first-impressionistic but quite unmistakable Cauliflower that I have just evolved: it starts – [MS music]

All very best wishes, and looking forward to any amount more of music together!

Yours very sincerely,

Ernest Walker.

Ernest Walker (1870-1949) , musicologist, composer, organist and Hon Fellow of Balliol

The Balliol Music Society’s 1745th Sunday Concert on Oct 16 2005 (Sunday 2nd week) was the annual Ernest Walker Concert, commemorating Dr Walker’s contribution to College life, and in particular College music, during his long career at Balliol 1887-1925.

Ernest Walker came up to Balliol in 1887 to study Litterae Humaniores (Classics) under WR Hardie and RL Nettleship. He received his BA in 1891, became assistant organist to John Farmer at Balliol and earned a BMus (1893) and DMus (1898). He became organist and director of music at Balliol upon Farmer’s retirement in 1901; although he gave up the post of organist in 1913 on religious grounds, he retained the directorship until his retirement in 1925. Under his direction, the Sunday Concerts developed to a very high standard.

In addition to his involvement in College music, he was instrumental in the University’s musical life as a busy teacher and examiner; he held the posts of Choragus of the University 1918-1922 and Lecturer for the University Professor of Music from 1899.

Dr Walker was well-known in the musical world beyond Oxford as a prolific and insightful critic, reviewer and musicologist. His voluminous correspondence portrays a thoughtful and self-effacing character possessed of a whimsical sense of humour and a great deal of affection and regard for his many friends and colleagues – not to mention decided musical opinions!

Ladies’ Club: the Oxford Ladies’ Musical Society, founded in 1898 because the university musical society did not admit women, and still in existence – though now co-ed – as the Oxford Chamber Music Society. Papers of the OLMS are in the Bodleian.

Sources :

  • Balliol College, MSS Ernest Walker and accrual Accn 05/139, letters to Cedric Glover
  • Bodleian Library, music MSS
  • Bailey, C. ‘ Walker, Ernest (1870-1949)’, rev. Jeremy Dibble, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36688, accessed 26 Sept 2005]
  • Balliol College Register (1933, 1950)
  • Deneke, M. Ernest Walker (1951)
  • Hull , R. ‘Ernest Walker’, Music Review, 10 (1949), 205–6

recent links

Here is a selection of links from the most recent issue of the AMARC newsletter – there is MUCH more information, articles and notices of many more conferences, new projects, exhibitions and other events of interest, in the newsletter. At £10 pa, individual membership is very good value! http://www.amarc.org.uk/ Back issues are available on their website.

First, the next AMARC meeting:
Date: Friday, 9th December
Place: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh)
The John Murray Archive: Engagement and enjoyment of a publishing collection
Programme and application form: http://www.amarc.org.uk/AMARC%20Edinburgh%202011.doc

A few of the positive feast of forthcoming conferences to do with medieval manuscripts:

16-18 November New perspectives on Flemish illumination. Brussels. http://www.kbr.be/actualites/colloque/congres_fr.html

17-19 November Palaeography, Humanism and MS Illumination in Renaissance Italy. A conference in memory of AC de la Mare. London. http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/index.php?id=626

7-9 December Die Illustrierte Chronikhandschrift des Zaren Ivan IV Groznyj. Munich. http://www.vifaost.de/Konferenz

12-13 December Royal Manuscripts at the British Library. London. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event124562.html

22-24 March 2012 How the secularisation of religious houses transformed the libraries of Europe, C16-19. Oxford. http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/csb/MigrationofKnowledge.htm

27-29 April Seals and their context in the Middle Ages. Aberystwyth. No website – contact smwstaff[at]aber.ac.uk. There is a related exhibition at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and perhaps a web page will emerge later. Very excited to see a dedicated seals conference 😀