Browse Exhibits (7 total)

Books in the Jewish Tradition

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Originally exhibited September 4–December 7, 2012
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition highlights the printed book as an expression of Jewish religious traditions. Selected from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, these ten books shed light on the experiences of people in past centuries who wished to make books central to their faith, but had to overcome opposition from many quarters. Facing intolerance and persecution across most of Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Jewish publishers and their readers persevered wherever they could, eventually finding relatively safe havens in seventeenth-century Amsterdam and nineteenth-century America.

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Eight Centuries of the Bible in Translation

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Originally exhibited February 1–May 14, 2011
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

The Bible was born from two parent languages, Hebrew and Greek. Although St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible shaped Christian theology and worship throughout medieval Europe, the development of regional languages and the rise of reform movements encouraged numerous vernacular translations during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the late eighteenth century, biblical translations had been produced throughout Europe and in selected regions beyond. During the nineteenth century, a period of widespread missionary efforts, the Bible was disseminated in hundreds of languages indigenous to Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Today, the Bible is available in more than 2,000 languages.

The gallery exhibition of 60 Bibles from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections traces the enduring effort, despite resistance on many fronts, to translate the Bible into the world’s native languages. Dating from the thirteenth century to the early twentieth century, the exhibited Bibles represent 55 different languages from five continents. 

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Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection

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Originally exhibited September 8–December 11, 2009
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition highlights Bibles from the collection of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro (1919–2009), who donated nearly five hundred volumes in more than fifty languages to Bridwell Library in 1996. One of Southern Methodist University’s great benefactors, Mrs. Prothro was the daughter of Joe and Lois Perkins, whose generosity endowed Perkins School of Theology. She graduated from SMU in 1939, one year after her marriage to Charles N. Prothro (1918–2001) of Wichita Falls. In 1962, a Bridwell Library exhibition of fifteenth-century printing inspired her to collect rare books. Her husband’s gift of six early volumes for their twenty-fifth anniversary on January 14, 1963 laid the foundation of a remarkable collection that reflects Mrs. Prothro’s life-long love of scripture and a connoisseur’s appreciation of historically significant editions.

Bridwell Library hosted the first exhibition of the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection in 1966. In 1990, one hundred Bibles from her collection were featured in the inaugural exhibition in The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries, given by her husband for their fiftieth anniversary in 1988. Donated to Bridwell in 1996, her Bibles have played important roles in many of the library’s exhibitions, including small exhibits marking her honorary SMU degree in 1996 and the rededication of Perkins Chapel on her birthday in 1999. Sixty of her Bibles were shown in a ten-year anniversary exhibition in 2006, for which her family donated additional early Bibles in her honor.

The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection invites continual use at Bridwell Library. The Bibles appear in many exhibitions and are shown regularly to visiting groups, examined by students, and consulted by scholars from around the world.  The collection will continue to inspire future students of the Bible, its history, and its lasting influence.

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Four Centuries of Religious Books for Children

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Originally exhibited January 20–May 12, 2012
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

“Adapted to the understandings, feelings, and perceptions of the young . . . to prepare them for the reception of those great and all important truths.”
—W. Fletcher in Hymns for Children

This exhibition explores religious books specifically written for children that were printed in Europe and America between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century. The types of books featured are Bibles, catechisms, instructional works, moral stories, devotional literature, hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs.  Authors, editors, and publishers in each of these genres utilized numerous strategies involving the choice of text, image, and physical format to entice and engage young readers.  Intended to both instruct and delight, these publications were the foundation for students’ future religious education and faith.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Bibles

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Originally exhibited June 7–July 30, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction 

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

The Bible constitutes one of the core collections at Bridwell Library. The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection, donated in 1996, offers a comprehensive survey of the printed Bible with notably strong holdings in early English editions and vernacular translations. It is complemented both by the Thomas J. Harrison Bible Collection, received in 1994, and continuing acquisitions in this field. The holdings include medieval manuscripts, first editions of nearly all of the major European language translations, and dozens of uncommon vernacular versions used to propagate the scriptures worldwide.

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The First Four Centuries of Printed Bible Illustration

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Originally exhibited January 28–May 18, 2013
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition of fifty Bibles from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections examines the historical context, artistic development, and cultural impact of the use of illustration in printed editions of the scriptures. Beginning with the pictorial woodcut initials of fifteenth-century German Bibles, highlights of the exhibition include vernacular Bible translations of the Reformation period that used striking and sometimes controversial imagery to enhance their impact, outstanding engraved Bible illustrations from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and examples of illustrated editions from nineteenth-century America.

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The Word Embodied: Scripture as Creative Inspiration in Twentieth-Century Book Arts

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Originally exhibited March 1–June 15, 2019
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

The transmission of culturally significant texts, especially Scripture, has always been a serious task. In the manuscript era, scribes paid strict attention to the precise copying of the Bible so as not to corrupt its sacred message. Scripture was thoughtfully laid out in columns and surrounded by generous margins. Vivid features including initial letters, rubrication, and decorative flourishes both aided the reader and sought to embellish and glorify the Word of God. Illustrations sometimes further magnified written works with narrative depictions of biblical stories. Away from the written page, artists portrayed people and events of Scripture in drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

Twentieth-century printers and artists developed aesthetic principles that articulated the power of the book to influence the reader’s experience of a text. They endeavored not simply to copy or illustrate Scripture but to embody it in a meaningful form. Whether austere or exuberant in design, these books were conceived to give countenance to the spirit within. Consideration of what constitutes the book arts in the twentieth century and today inevitably confronts a variety of terms, including fine press, private press, livre d’artistes, artists’ books, and others. Such terms are often misunderstood and conflated, and they may in fact overlap. The purpose of this exhibition is not to define the boundaries of these categories nor to assert an orthodoxy, which itself would merely be subjective. Rather, here we explore the book as a creative expression and the wide array of inspirations, methodologies, and realizations experienced and expressed throughout the period.

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