On the 12th of April, the Donald Robinson Library of Moore Theological College hosted an insightful seminar titled “Biblical Languages in the Early Modern Period.” The event featured speaker Douglas Fyfe, a pastor, Hebrew and Old Testament tutor, and PhD candidate at Sydney University. Fyfe’s expertise on biblical languages provided attendees with a fascinating overview of the publication of early modern Hebrew Bibles, the development of the standard order for biblical books, and how they shaped the field of biblical studies.
The seminar began with an introduction to the early modern period, a time of significant scholarship in biblical languages. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century paved the way for numerous key editions of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament to be published by major printing houses. The emergence of polyglot Bibles, such as Brian Walton’s 1657 Biblia Sacra Polyglotta, also allowed scholars to compare linguistic differences and similarities across different languages.
The seminar also highlighted several early works on display at the Donald Robinson Library’s lower ground floor. These exhibits showcased rare and valuable examples of early modern printed editions alongside two 19th century manuscripts, providing attendees with a unique opportunity to examine these artifacts up close. Fyfe’s expertise and guidance made the examination of these works an enlightening and engaging experience for all in attendance.
Throughout the event, Douglas Fyfe demonstrated his passion for the subject by sharing his extensive knowledge of the Old Testament and the Hebrew language. His background as a pastor, tutor, and researcher allowed him to provide a well-rounded and insightful perspective on the importance of biblical languages in the early modern period.
The event not only showcased the significance of the printing press and early modern manuscripts in shaping the field of biblical studies but also highlighted the importance of preserving these historical artifacts for future generations. Douglas Fyfe’s engaging presentation and the opportunity to examine rare biblical works made the event a memorable and enriching experience for all who attended.
New Testament lecturer Chris Conyers attended the event and reflected on it afterwards: “Printed texts are everywhere today, but seeing the care and effort that went into books in previous ages reminds us how precious a book can really be. I was especially struck by the way Hebrew scribes went to so much effort to make their text look special by putting crowns on every letter! It was also incredible to see an interlinear Bible from 1608, designed to help the Latin speaker learn Hebrew – I never would have guessed that such a thing existed, but it’s a great insight into how our forbears studied the scriptures.”
Erin Mollenhauer, the Senior Archivist of the Donald Robinson Library, shared her thoughts on the event, saying, “It was a privilege to host Douglas Fyfe and have our guests explore the rich history of biblical languages. His expertise brought these artifacts to life, inspiring a deeper appreciation for the scholarly work of the early modern period. We hope this event fosters continued interest in our collection and the invaluable knowledge it holds for understanding the development of biblical studies.”
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