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March 1, 2002

Sweeter Than Honey

Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary are teaming up to present "Sweeter than Honey: The Bible in Print," an exhibit of 16th and 17th century Bibles, psalters, songbooks and commentaries owned by the two schools.

The Hekman Library, Heritage Hall, and the Meeter Center are co-sponsoring the exhibit that begins April 12 and runs through June 15. The exhibit will be located in two areas of the library. The largest portion will be on display on the second (main) floor of the Hekman Library and the portion related to John Calvin and his works will be located in the Meeter Center on the library's fourth floor. Admission is free.

Library director Glenn Remelts (above) says that the Hekman Library's rare book collection is large and includes many Bibles and theological works. This upcoming exhibit showcases many exceptional items. And in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Meeter Center, many early 16th century editions of John Calvin's works will also be on display.

Among the works displayed will be a beautifully illustrated early copy of Luther's German Bible and several early Dutch Bible translations, including an original 1637 edition of the Dutch Statenbijbel. The Latin DeTournes Bible (1554) has marvelous woodcuts, as do a number of other early translations, such as the English-language Geneva Bible, a precursor to the famous King James Version. Another exhibit, Brian Walton's London Polyglot Bible (1665), a massive multi-volume scholarly achievement, features parallel texts of early versions of Scripture. Finally, on display will be a leaf, on loan, from a 1454 Gutenberg Bible.

Lugene Schemper, Calvin's Theological Librarian says: "The Protestant Reformation and post-Reformation period brought about a flourishing of biblical study and scholarship in Europe. Scholars published new editions of the Scriptures in the original languages, as well as translations into the everyday languages of the people. "The books on display played an important role in bringing about religious and social change in early modern Europe."

Calvin has nearly 1,000 rare books published before 1700, while the Hekman Library, considered one of the area's finest, contains some 600,000 books total.

Remelts says the library spends about $5,000 a year purchasing books for the rare book collection and that it is money well-spent.

"The collection is a source of pride for the Library staff," he says, "but more than that it's a resource for not only for our students and faculty, but also for others interested in the Reformation. In fact scholars come from around the country and from around the world to take advantage of the original books and documents on hand at Calvin."

The upcoming exhibit will overlap for almost three months with another rare book exhibit at Calvin called "Wisdom of the Ages."

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)