By Andrew Schumann ’19
Academic departments including Language, History and English came together to create the exhibit that is currently up for view in the Jenks resource center. The display features reformation pieces, including priceless first editions of Martin Luther and Erasmus.
The pieces are part of a much larger collection owned by the college, called the Edward Vining collection, and were brought together by faculty members that include Dr. David Goss, Dr. Damon DiMauro, Dr. Graeme Bird, Mary-Ellen Smiley, and others.
Dr. Goss, of the history department, gave the history of the Vining collection: “Vining was a very wealthy railroad magnate in the late 1800’s. He had a lot of time and a lot of money, and his passion was collecting books.”
He continued, “In particular, books that focused on Shakespeare, reformation pieces, Bibles, mission work, theology and perhaps most importantly, books that focused on languages. When he passed in 1921 and left his collection to his daughter and son-in-law, trustees of Gordon College. They donated the collection in 1922 to Gordon College.”
The idea for the Reformation exhibit stemmed from the Shakespeare Second Folio exhibit, which was displayed last fall. Goss said, “The exhibit comes from a direct outgrowth of a suggestion by President Lindsay, and goes back to last spring semester.”
Both Goss and DiMauro had previous interest in displaying these specific selections; however, this interest became reality when they were approached by President Lindsay concerning the possible display of the pieces in light of both Homecoming and the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation.
DiMauro arranged the pieces and wrote each piece’s description. The order was specifically placed as, pre-reformation, classical humanism and reformation
DiMauro explained the Bible in Jenks is a Complutensian Polyglot Bible, and the first Greek bible ever printed. It was printed in 1514, which predates Erasmus’s ‘first’ Greek new Testament of 1516. DiMauro continued, “technically, this is the first printing of Greek; they had to cut a font for it. It was cut by a Cardinal in Spain, and this book is very important for Spanish humanism.”
Along with some of the first printed Greek, the Reformation exhibit showcases the first ever printed Arabic, in The Genoa Psalter. “The Quadruplex Psalter was the first polygot of the Psalms ever published.” It is written in five languages, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Arabic and Aramaic. The Psalter also has one of the earliest printed accounts of Christopher Columbus’s expedition North America.
When asked what he hopes students will take away from this exhibit, Goss responded, “I think the most important thing that students can take away as a result of this exhibit, is an awareness of these tremendously influential individuals like Erasmus and Martin Luther – which serve Gordon as educational recourses. We want students at Gordon to understand that these are the sorts of primary source materials that help us tell the story and understand the story of the Reformation. These books on display are more than just books that tell a story of the past. They are the past.”