[For friends and family] There’s not a whole lot to say here: Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, get on the bike, and ride down to the library (10 mins); Peter has been walking (45 mins). Sit at the desk, read, and write. All ten of us are in the “hexagon” part of the library – see the bottom right hand corner of this library map (pictures for each section in the upper left hand corner.)
Being here has given some of us greater appreciation for our own NEGST library. In many of the areas we are working on for our dissertations, our library is not as far behind this esteemed Tyndale House Library as we may have thought – perhaps a handful of monographs here that we wouldn’t have access to at home – especially German ones. This is a big tribute to those that have worked hard to upgrade the NEGST library (Jim Miller) over the past years and countless donors, and groups like the Theological Book Network whose motto is, “converting EXCESS in our world to ACCESS in the rest of the world.”
The biggest differences we notice here are the amount of primary sources (especially in the Loeb series and older manuscripts), journals and periodicals, certain areas of specialization (especially OT related research areas), other dissertations, access to electronic databases for Greek searches, and faster internet (which NEGST is supposed to get soon). Plus, the main Cambridge University Library is not far away, and since it is a copyright library, it’s supposed to have everything we can’t find here. Since Biblical Studies is the focus here, NEGST may even be doing better in certain areas related to the social sciences (e.g. ethnicity), missions, and linguistics. But we knew all that coming in because you could browse the entire library on-line. (If you hold the cursor over the green highlighted areas of the library map, you can see pictures of each section of the library.)
But it’s not all about books. One of the big benefits of being here is simply breathing the air of a place like Cambridge and rubbing shoulders with people from all over the world doing scholarship. It’s nice to sit down to compare notes over tea break with people from all over the world who are also writing their dissertations. When the gong sounds at 11am and at 4pm; everyone is strongly encouraged to take a break together. It helps foster a greater sense of community in field that can get quite lonely. Today’s afternoon break was an opportunity to pick Richard B. Hayes brain. He’s doing research on “echoes” of Scripture in the four gospels.
Thursdays are Hebrew and Greek day. Some of us have been reading together through key passages that the Old Testament guys are working on – Gen. 34, Amos 5, and Nehemiah 1with Peter Williams, the warden here – a really great guy. The rest of us (some overlap) are reading through Galatians with Peter Head, a manuscripts expert and a really nice guy; he brought us cake yesterday ;-). This gives us a great opportunity to discuss all our various theories about Galatians. Maybe Hayes can set us straight. 😉
The staff here are incredibly proficient and helpful. For one example, click on “online resources” under “doorbells” on the left at Tyndale House or download the biblical studies toolbar – an incredible tool. Although I’ve been aware of all these tools before, watching Dr. Instone-Brewer present them to us made me realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential.
This week, Nelson found a reference to a disseration that has just recently been defended in the US; Dr. Magba, the librarian had it on his desk the next day – simply incredible!
Tyndale House is a great place to do research. Here’s my view from my desk at the bottom of the Hexagon.
Here’s what I see if I turn around to my right (mirrored on the left).