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Yours, Mine, or Theirs? Historical Observations on the Use, Collection and Sharing of Manuscripts in Western Europe and the Christian Orient


In the west centuries ago manuscripts were replaced by printed books, and relegated to mostly secular libraries as a result of religious and political upheavals. In the Christian Orient such changes were slower and remain less advanced. Manuscripts have not entirely vanished from regular use, and Christian communities retain ownership of significant collections of their historic manuscripts. The vital connection between manuscripts and religious culture endures, even if attenuated by persecution, diaspora, technology, and other aspects of modernity. This essay provides an historical survey of these issues in both Europe and the Christian Orient (limited here to the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Ethiopia/Eritrea).
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-059-4
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Publication Status: In Print

Series: Analecta Gorgiana 126
Publication Date: Sep 23,2009
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 29
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-059-4
$36.00
$21.60

Manuscripts are uniquely privileged bearers of cultural identity. Created and transmitted within particular linguistic and religious communities, they retain their fullest significance when they are used regularly and remain in the possession of their historic cultures. In the west those two pillars of manuscript-based culture were broken centuries ago as manuscripts were replaced by printed books, and relegated to mostly secular libraries as a result of religious and political upheavals. In the Christian Orient such changes were slower and remain less advanced. Manuscripts have not entirely vanished from regular use, and Christian communities retain ownership of significant collections of their historic manuscripts. The vital connection between manuscripts and religious culture endures, even if attenuated by persecution, diaspora, technology, and other aspects of modernity. Western collectors, whether imperial, institutional, or individual, have posed another threat to Oriental Christian manuscripts, taking many very important items or collections to European and American national or research libraries. This essay provides an historical survey of these issues.

Columba Stewart, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, and Professor of Theology at the Saint John’s School of Theology Seminary. He has directed the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s efforts to digitize the manuscript culture of the Eastern Christian churches in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, and India.

Manuscripts are uniquely privileged bearers of cultural identity. Created and transmitted within particular linguistic and religious communities, they retain their fullest significance when they are used regularly and remain in the possession of their historic cultures. In the west those two pillars of manuscript-based culture were broken centuries ago as manuscripts were replaced by printed books, and relegated to mostly secular libraries as a result of religious and political upheavals. In the Christian Orient such changes were slower and remain less advanced. Manuscripts have not entirely vanished from regular use, and Christian communities retain ownership of significant collections of their historic manuscripts. The vital connection between manuscripts and religious culture endures, even if attenuated by persecution, diaspora, technology, and other aspects of modernity. Western collectors, whether imperial, institutional, or individual, have posed another threat to Oriental Christian manuscripts, taking many very important items or collections to European and American national or research libraries. This essay provides an historical survey of these issues.

Columba Stewart, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, and Professor of Theology at the Saint John’s School of Theology Seminary. He has directed the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s efforts to digitize the manuscript culture of the Eastern Christian churches in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, and India.

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Columba Stewart

  • Yours, Mine, Or Theirs? Historical Observations on the Use, Collection and Sharing of Manuscripts in Western Europe and the Christian Orient (page 5)
    • Manuscripts and Their Communities (page 6)
    • Manuscripts and Manuscript Culture in Western Europe (page 8)
    • Manuscripts and Manuscript Culture in the Christian Orient (page 15)
    • Manuscripts and Their Ecclesiastical Guardians (page 18)
    • Oriental Christian Manuscripts in the West: The Special Case of Egypt (page 24)
    • The Continuing Challenge (page 29)
  • Errata (page 33)