Each library hosting the Manifold Greatness traveling exhibition offers a unique set of resource for its viewers. At Eastern Mennonite University, the Hartzler Library has had on view a number of Bibles from its Menno Simons Historical Library, a special collection of Anabaptist/Mennonite materials. Manifold Greatness was on view at EMU from January 26 through February 21, 2013.We’ve selected some unique items from the Menno Simons Historical Library to share in this post. Please scroll down to see these remarkable, historic Bibles.
Also on display is this New Testament from 1527 with the text in Greek, Latin which was translated by Erasmus and the Latin Vulgate.
The collection has a number of German Bibles since many Anabaptist groups who settled in the Eastern United States spoke German.
The collection also includes a copy of an 1853 Chinese New Testament.
One newer item we made available was a facsimile St. John’s Bible, a handwritten and hand-illuminated Bible commissioned in 1998. The uniqueness of each location is seen in their resources and programing. We are happy to share these works with our community, and with the readers of the Manifold Greatness blog.
Jennifer Ulrich is a Technical Service librarian at Eastern Mennonite University.
On Monday, February 11, at the third of four programs designed to explore the themes in Manifold Greatness (and as a part of Loyola Marymount University’s Black History Month celebration), the Sacred Praise Chorale of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, CA performed works directly inspired by the words of the King James Bible.
The concert, directed by pianist and soloist Diane White-Clayton (affectionately known as “Dr. Dee”), took attendees on an inspiring, energetic musical performance of eight works of that spanned eighty years of worship music written by African American composers.
Reverend Jason Darden, Protestant and Multifaith Campus Minister at LMU, provided moving commentary between songs, and the 120 guests of all ages in attendance left with their hands tingling from clapping and their hearts elated by the honesty, beauty, and soulfulness of the performance. After the concert, guests and performers walked from the Sacred Heart Chapel to the William H. Hannon Library for a reception and viewing of Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible.
I invited Dr. Dee and Reverend Darden to share their personal perspective on the role of the KJV in their life.
“The King James Version of the Bible with its poetic colors and literary prominence has been the source of artistic inspiration for composers for centuries. This is especially true of African American composers. A culture which relies heavily on lyrical oratory, the Black church in America is often filled with the words from this great work, whether quoted by a pastor in a sermon, read as the Sunday morning scripture, spoken antiphonally by congregants and reader, or sung in the lyrics of the choir’s musical rendition.
Raised in a traditional Black church, my ears were filled with the words of the King James Version as I memorized verses in Sunday School or listened to my father preach them with eloquence. Hence its influence on me as an artist would be strong. As a composer, a great percentage of my choral works employ the King James Version as the sole source of lyrics. I use it for the beauty of the old English, the familiarity it breeds for those entrenched in the tradition, and simply because of the inspiration it breathes to me as a Christian.”
- Diane White-Clayton (“Dr. Dee“)
“The King James Bible holds a very special place in my heart. I grew up as a preacher’s kid; not only was my father a preacher but my grandfather as well. I can remember sitting in the pews and listening to my father and grandfather preach from the King James Bible. I memorized scripture using the KJV and whenever I quote a passage during a sermon I always seem to resort back to my KJV vernacular.
For me, the King James Bible is comforting; it brings back fond memories of our family’s small African American Church of Christ in Sylvania, Georgia. The very first bible that I received after my baptism was a black Thompson Reference King James Bible, with the words of Jesus in red of course! The King James Bible was with me as I began my ministry in the pulpit and will be with me on the day I deliver my last sermon from the pulpit. For African Americans, the KJV is much more than a translation of scripture. The KJV is our grandfather, father and mother, our friend in times of trouble, and our history as a people.”
- Reverend Jason Darden
Jamie Hazlitt is Outreach Librarian and Manifold Greatness program director at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA.
On February 2, central Pennsylvania welcomed the Manifold Greatness traveling exhibit to the High Library at Elizabethtown College. The reception has been overwhelming and we could not be happier with the enthusiasm and support for the exhibit. Even the weather has worked out in our favor and the programs have gone on without a hitch!
Our opening reception was attended by over 200 people, and attracted visitors from outside the area, including individuals from New Jersey and Maryland. To quote our keynote speaker for the event, Jeff Bach, the reception provided “a feast for the eyes in the exhibit and items from our special collections, a feast for the ears thanks to the glorious music provided by our student group Camerata who performed ancient acapella musical selections, a feast for the soul as the Word was read aloud, and our minds through the opening lecture.”
We also hosted a panel discussion on February 6 as scholars discussed “Shakespeare, Literature and the Language of the King James Bible.” Speakers included Professors Christina Bucher, Louis Martin and Suzanne Webster. On February 7, we were mesmerized by our Elizabethtown’s own Professor Patricia Likos Ricci who lectured on “The Bible as a Work of Art.” Professor Ricci will replay this lecture on February 19 at the Elizabethtown Public Library. We will also hear from our own Professor Jean-Paul Benowitz on Family Bibles. It has been wonderful to see and experience all the diverse backgrounds and generations who have visited the exhibit. We have had young, old, Mennonite, Brethren, Catholic, Baptist, and Protestant visiting the exhibit. Our youngest tour thus far has been a group of middle school students who really enjoyed hearing about the Wicked Bible from our student docent, Annemarie. We also hosted a group of Old Order Amish who toured the exhibit with Professors Jeff Bach and Don Kraybill.
The Manifold Greatness exhibition has also provided an opportunity for the High Library special collections to be featured. We have displayed the High Library copy of the 1599 Geneva Bible, the rare 1712 Marburg Bible, and the Berleburg Bible. In addition to the unique displays, the visitors have also enjoyed using iPads we have setup to connect them directly with the audio tour of the exhibit provided by the Folger Shakespeare Library. We hope to continue to reap the rewards of the amazing exhibit and are looking forward to another fantastic 2 weeks with the King James Bible.
Louise M. Hyder-Darlington, M.S.L.S. is Access Services Librarian and Project Director for the Manifold Greatness traveling exhibition at the High Library, Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA.