Mother Dear and I helped my grandmother to do assorted organizing, and cleaning and the biggest project was going through my grandfather's library. He's given the okay for it to be cleared and everything tossed or given away. Well, this bibliophile didn't want to see so many fine books disappear, so she volunteered to "dispose" of many herself :). No one else in the family expressed much interest in searching through Granddad's collection for some "keepers," so I pretty much had free reign on an enormous number of books.
My grandfather was a Presbyterian pastor for over 40 years, so most of the books were theological (*grin*), with some classic literature and poetry thrown into the mix. The theology books ranged from pretty conservative to pretty liberal, so they were of varying interest to me. Almost all the books were hardbound, many quite old, some even pre-1850. I found a number of books on various Bible topics like baptism, communion, the beatitudes, etc., as well as many overviews of the New Testament, studies on Paul, analyses of the work of Christ, some Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. I also found a number of old books of classic poetry and literature. Lots of good books to bring home :). Here are a few highlights of my findings:
Specific books I had been looking for, and happened to find:
The original Book of Common Prayer (before the marriage vows were modernized)
Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (two volume, leather-bound copy)
Letters to Karen, by Charlie W. Shedd
Christianity and Liberalism, by J. Gresham Machen
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Greek New Testament
The Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
The Old Testament in Hebrew
Some of my favorite finds:
Hardbound, embellished copy of Tennyson's poetry
Hardbound, 2-volume set of John Knox's History of the Reformation in Scotland
Set of hardbound Sunday School books (made before curriculum was reduced to handouts and cartoon drawings. . . )
An 1842 edition of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, with the WCF (with scripture proofs), the catechisms, and directory for worship
An 1857 edition of A Book of Public Prayer, compiled from the Authorized Formularies of Worship of the Presbyterian Church, as prepared by the Reformers Calvin, Knox, Bucer, and Others (how's that for a lengthy title).
The Ruling Elder, Near to the Heart of God, and The Foreign Missionary Enterprise and its Sincere Critics, by Cleland McAfee (my great-great-grandfather and writer of the hymn Near to the Heart of God)
Complete set of William Barclay's NT commentaries (those should be interesting, as I've heard varied reports on his theology)
The Works of Josephus (early church father), published in 1842, in 2 volumes
History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, by W.M. Hetherington
Most interesting find:
Bible Defence of Slavery by Jossiah Priest
This was a book published in 1852 that defended the American practice of slavery by race. Basically the entire book explains why blacks are inferior to whites, twisting scripture to "prove" this assertion. A few excerpts from the table of content:
Evidences that the Supreme Being puts a higher estimate on white than on
black. . . insensibilities of the negroes to bodily pain. . . meanness of the
negro spirit. . . negroes' brains found to be less in weight and measure than
the white man's. . . difference of negro sensibilities from that of the whites,
on being separated from wives and children, proven by facts. . . etc.
General slavery (which I still hate, but is an entirely different matter) is one thing, but slavery based on race is quite another issue! We are all One Blood. I'm definitely going to have to read the book, but I'm going to be writhing with anger while I read it!
Disclaimer: My grandparents did not own the book because they subscribe to the views presented. Far from it, just to clarify :).
Anyway, those are a few highlights from my fun findings from my adventures last week :). Unfortunately I "only" have two (decent-sized) bookcases in my bedroom, so the vast majority of the books remain boxed-up, along with other, previous purchases. My dream has always been to someday have a large room in my future (hypothetical) house devoted entirely to books. Most girls, when they watch Disney's Beauty and the Beast, probably are enchanted by the enormous castle, or Belle's beautiful gowns, or the singing dishes. I was captivated by the library! Someday I'd like to have a library like that, with built-in bookshelves all-round :).
I can dream, can't I?