Through a partnership with the Museum of the Bible, Oklahoma Christian University will be the home of the Sofer Collection: more than 4,000 European volumes, Hebrew manuscripts and rabbinic literature.
“Sofer means wisdom and OC is about heart, soul, mind, and strength learning, which includes not simply information, but also insights that deepen and grow here, so it is my humble prayer that this pilot project becomes another gem in OC’s crown,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott LaMascus said in a statement.
After David Trobisch, a biblical scholar and the director of the Green Collection, lectured at the opening of the Sacra Pagina exhibit on Tuesday, he and LaMascus announced Oklahoma Christian as the home of the Sofer Collection.
The collection was donated to the Museum of the Bible, who will now house it at Oklahoma Christian starting through a kind of pilot program. The collection would then be available to scholars and some upper-level students for research and enrichment.
According to Beam Library Director Tamie Willis, the Sofer Collection was named after Benjamin and Avi Sofer after the Museum of the Bible acquired it in Israel.
Charles Rix, interim dean for the College of Biblical Studies, said the Sofer collection is mostly comprised of secondary literature, which means versions of biblical commentary. The collection has works from the medieval to the modern era with writings in Aramaic, Hebrew and English.
“By just having the collection here it helps us to appreciate the richness of biblical interpretation,” Rix said. “It helps us to have things that we can see and things that we can look at and to some extent things we can read, which shows us the width and the depth of conversations around the biblical text — which I think is important for academic study of the Bible.”
A large portion of the collection is Jewish literature, which can aid in understanding Jewish communities and culture, and in turn provides a fuller context of Old Testament understanding, he said.
“While it may not give any brand new information, it gives us a flavor for how different periods interpret it or were looking at it and understanding different biblical texts,” Rix said.
Negotiations were ongoing for a while, but during the summer, Rix said it became clear Oklahoma Christian would likely acquire the collection.
Having the collection on campus could boost Oklahoma Christian’s visibility as a place of biblical studies, Rix said.
“It gives people a reason to come – it gives scholars and researchers a reason to be on our campus,” Rix said. “It opens up the possibilities for scholars outside of our community who come and want to look at the collection to perhaps do lectures for us.”
After it is processed and cataloged, the collection will be in room 110 on the ground floor of the Mabee Learning Center. According to Willis, the collection will be open access and available for anyone to use within the library. The collection will also be non-circulating but available to scholars across the world through interlibrary loan.
Rix said he hopes the collection becomes more than a conversation piece, but a bridge to deeper learning.
“It opens the door for more scholarly conversation around the bible,” Rix said. “I don’t know what all that is going to be, but I think for the department it widens our opportunities. It gives us material to work with; I think it helps our students appreciate the depth of the conversation both in Jewish History as well as Christian history.”