God’s Library

So, it has been about a year since I started this blog. At that time, I was in the midst of finishing my last revisions to the manuscript of my book, and in my first posting, I described the blog as an outgrowth of this book project:

“I’ve just completed a book on that topic (God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts), which is due out next year. This was a really fun book to write. While researching it over the last few years, I encountered so many fascinating stories about Christian manuscripts (and the people who study them!). So, I’m planning on using this site primarily to share some of these interesting, entertaining, and just plain strange stories.”

I’ve still got lots of stories to tell, so the blog will go on. But in the meantime, but I’m happy to report that I received my author copies of the book today:

Nongbri Books

It’s wonderful to see the finished product. It contains a number of pictures, maps, charts, etc., and they look fantastic: So, a huge thanks to the production team at Yale University Press. And without repeating everything in the acknowledgements: Thanks also to everyone who has helped out with this process over the last eight years–answering questions, offering criticism and advice, and generally being supportive! I’m so grateful to all of you.

The publisher’s page for the book is here. The official publication date is 21 August, and the book can be ordered on amazon and all the usual book-selling sites.

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10 Responses to God’s Library

  1. Jeff Cate says:

    Looking forward to your book, Brent. Fwiw, it’s featured on the top of the back cover of the program book this week in Helsinki for the International Meeting of SBL. Wish I knew how to post a pic.

  2. Maybe during a Sabbatical I will get to read this book. It looks like a great contribution to its field.

  3. Geoff Hudson says:

    Brent, is the title of your book God’s Library a little presumtuous in that the early Christian manuscripts that you deal with are generally from Egypt. Yet the codex appears to have been used first in Rome. But there seems to be a dearth of early Roman Christian manuscripts. How do you account for that?

    • Everything I do is “a little presumptuous.” 😉
      Most of our surviving manuscripts come from Egypt because the dry climate there is conducive to the preservation of material like papyrus and parchment. The climate in Rome is much less ideal for the preservation of such materials.

  4. I have started God’s Library. I’m all the way up to page 3. The “tentatively identified” 1908 newspaper article stopped me in my tracks. Ancient manuscripts, wait up, we have 1908 unsettled business, surprisingly hard to clear up. The author, Sam W. Small, Jr, did indeed work for Hearst papers such as the Examiner, but also for the New York American (and for Associated Press). Chicago might make sense, given the announcement there on Dec. 30, 1907. But the page does not quite resemble later 1908 issues available at Chicago Public Library–but they are later. Later available re-reporting, so far, fails to credit the Examiner nor the American. Neither does a HathiTrust, for some reason limited, search, at least on page 825 of Liahona: The Elders Journal v. 5 (1907-1908?), though, according to HT, that page does include Freer, Sanders, gospels, Jerome–and “Sam W. Small Jr.” I’ll omit other dead ends. if anyone wishes to try their hand at this, an uncropped illustration of the newspaper clipping is here:

    • Yes, as you can imagine, the difficulty of confirming this relatively simple problem drove me nuts. The clipping had no identification in the notebooks, and there seems not to be a full set of The Chicago Examiner anywhere in the US. Can such recent publications really be completely lost? Anyway, the letter from Francis Kelsey to C. L. Freer that I cite in the endnotes (“Dear Mr. Freer, I have just seen a copy of the Chicago Examiner of yesterday containing a full page statement in regard to the Greek manuscripts, with an illustration, which is, to say the least, amusing.”) seems to me to be pretty strong evidence in favor of the clipping coming from the Examiner, but I left the “tentatively” in because I hadn’t (and still haven’t) seen a complete copy of The Examiner for 5 January 1908. Nevertheless, the Smithsonian seems satisfied with the evidence I provided, since a recent publication of theirs on Freer also uses this image and identifies it without qualification as coming from The Examiner.

      • Having read further, let me say that your book is surely a fine narrative and compilation, well illustrated, and even reasonably priced (unlike a recent book I co-authored).
        I have still failed to find that Hearst papers retained copies of the Chicago Examiner. I have read that “Ca. 1930 Hearst Publications faced bankruptcy and he [William Randolph Hearst] was forced to sell off assets, including a large part of his massive collection of European art.” Perhaps some newspaper archives were lost at that time? Anyway, as a minor aside in context, this could be considered meta.

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