In April 2015 the Hebraica antiquarian cataloguing project started at Christ Church, with generous support from the Rothschild Foundation. The digitisation of all the college’s Hebrew manuscripts has also started, thanks to the financial assistance of the Polonsky Foundation. These two projects have brought to light many unknown treasures and as a result of this recent work, the library is opening up to a wide range of new scholarly queries.
Provenance research that has established the strength of Hebraica collecting at Christ Church since the foundation of the college, has raised further interest in looking at this early modern Hebraica library as a readers’ community. As Regius Professorship of Hebrew had been established by Henry VIII in 1546, Hebrew was part and parcel of the academic curriculum in Oxford. Who were the pioneers of Hebrew studies in Oxford? What was their cultural and political universe like?
In order to address the themes of reading, acquiring and assembling collections of Hebrew books, we will hold a two day international conference “Jewish Books and their Christian Collectors in Europe, the New World and Czarist Russia” at Christ Church on 22-23 May. The conference has been kindly funded by the European Association for Jewish Studies (EAJS) with the aim of bringing together scholars from England, Continental Europe, Israel, the US and Russia.
Coinciding with the conference, there will be a related exhibition, Jewish Books and their Christian Readers: Christ Church Connections, open between 22 May and 20 October 2017.