Bagster’s Bibles: for Norwich and the world

Last weekend, I happened upon a melancholy Twitter thread that captured the closing of a two-hundred-year-old church in Norwich: Princes Street United Reformed Church. The author, Jay Hulme (@JayHulmePoet), had gone to photograph the building as a record for posterity, a day before the pews and fittings were due to be stripped out. (You can read and see Jay’s account here.)

One of the outcomes of this visit is that a small collection of books, mostly bibles, found piled on a windowsill has now gone to the Norfolk Heritage Centre for safe-keeping. Looking carefully, with input from friends and the local church minister, Jay had identified several books belonging to the Colman family—famed for their mustard. One of these was a copy of Samuel Bagster’s “English Version of the Polyglot Bible”, heavily annotated by its owner—Ethel Mary Colman Continue reading Bagster’s Bibles: for Norwich and the world

Hine’s Cassirer

As of autumn 2019, I am postdoctoral research associate for the Sheffield Cassirer project, leading the digitisation and republication of the works of Heinrich Walter (“Heinz”) Cassirer.

Born in Starnberg in 1903, Heinz Cassirer completed a PhD in classical philology at Heidelberg University before being forced into economic exile: As a Jewish academic, he was ruled out of employment Continue reading Hine’s Cassirer

How to govern differently

It seems that caring for other websites led me to neglect this personal one. So I’m belatedly documenting some of the intervening time, and–as I sometimes do–preparing a backdated post to keep things in some kind of chronological sequence.

When I first began work with the Jam and Justice team, the post was a 9-month filler, with a view to obtaining follow-on funding to develop some of the Linguistic DNA resources for use with schools. Continue reading How to govern differently

Luther’s bibles: a question of church?

I have previously written about Germanic bibles before Luther. But we might as well ask “before what Luther?”

As I’ve written previouslyMartin Luther began translating the Bible programmatically in 1522, with two versions of the New Testament appearing in quick succession. Another portion appeared in 1523, covering what Luther referred to as the “Five Books of Moses”. A complete Luther bible did not arrive until 1534 (or 1533 if we include the Low German bible prepared by Luther’s associate Joannes Bugenhagen which carried Luther’s endorsement).1 In the meantime, Luther had already begun to revise his work, and he would continue making changes until his death in 1546.

I often frame my explanations with reference to the book of Ruth.2 In this case though, prompted by an enquiry, I’m going to illustrate some of the steps in tracing Luther’s translation (and, allied with that, his thinking) with attention to Genesis. Continue reading Luther’s bibles: a question of church?

The best translation?

What’s the best bible translation? I recall being asked this question a couple of years ago, following a talk on Luther’s language. I’m not sure exactly how I answered. I know I probably said to read more than one version. (There is no such thing as a perfect translation.) I may have also acknowledged that for those studying academically, the NRSV tends to be the recommended port of call. I have a suspicion I also recommended a volume Athalya Brenner put together, that presents insights into contemporary biblical scholarship through the voices of biblical women. It turns the notion of translation upside down, and sometimes we need that level of freshness.

Continue reading The best translation?

Coverdale and some theology

On 14 November 2018, I travelled to Hull to speak to the local Theological Society (patron: the Archbishop of York). Having carried through quite a few speaking commitments lately, I decided in advance that for this one I would fit my topic to some other work I had in hand—namely, some pending revisions of an article about Miles Coverdale and his sources. Continue reading Coverdale and some theology

Preaching to the converted?

One of my last obligations with the Linguistic DNA project (though who knows what doors may open) was a short presentation on the “Public Sermons” collection as part of a workshop on Early modern preaching. This one-day conference was organised by a pair of postgraduate researchers, and brought together 30 or so scholars with a keen enthusiasm for the topic. It was a natural  venue to share some of what we achieved modelling change with EEBO-TCP, and I was delighted that Tilly and Catherine (the organisers) found a space for this within a busy and collegiate programme.  Continue reading Preaching to the converted?

Things I read in the Bible

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the new Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library. It wasn’t a frivolous visit; I was preparing for the discussion about religion and power that you could have heard as part of this evening’s Radio 3 Free Thinking.

It is a lavish and expansive exhibition. Potentially overwhelming when you approach it, as I did, with the intent of looking at and absorbing as much detail as possible. Continue reading Things I read in the Bible

What did Luther ever do for philosophy?

Back in February, amidst striking and snow, I pondered the question “What would Luther do…?” in relation to some problematic picket lines. As things worked out, it proved possible to renegotiate the setting for the talk and I was able to meet Diarmaid MacCulloch and subsequently get his insight on some of my research. (It happened to tie in rather closely with the direction of his new Cromwell biography, so it is a pity I’d not felt bold enough to share my work sooner–but then I’m not sure it was ready.)

Continue reading What did Luther ever do for philosophy?

A matter of impact

Towards the end of July 2018, I took on the role of Impact Officer for an action research project called Jam and Justice. My post is funded by three partner universities (Sheffield, Manchester, and Birmingham) each channeling funding received from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to accelerate the societal consequences of research. Continue reading A matter of impact