Mark Mathews, another Durham student who also happened to go to DTS, and I made our semi-annual trip to Cambridge together last week for three days. It was a great trip and I got quite a bit of work done.
We intentionally timed it to meet up with Dan Wallace and his photographing crew. As part of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, which he leads, they have a small goal of photographing every extant NT manuscript by 2020. They just finished shooting all those at the Univ of Michigan and will be spending a couple of months in the UK shooting things over here. We happened to see them working with some fragments from a 7th century uncial manuscript of Romans 8 that had been cut up and used in the binding of an old Latin book. The task of piecing it together was quite fun, especially since I’m currently writing a chapter on Romans 8.
Rather than hanging out at Tyndale House, we spent the majority of our time at Cambridge’s Univeristy Library, which happens to be located fairly close to Tyndale. It was quite easy to get access to the library–you just have to show a current student ID card and have proof of address at a quick admissions appointment (see here). Even better, as a student at Durham, there is no fee and the library card is valid for the full term of your program, rather than the £10 for 6 months. Mark wanted to look at the Cairo Genizah document, so he got a letter of introduction from Loren Stuckenbruck for it. At his admissions appointment he got an extra ‘M’ on his card, so he had free reign access to all their manuscripts–not just the one he had the letter for. Quite nice. For internet access, they give you a temporary login/password good for 2 months, just go visit the Digital Resources Area.
That’s not to say that everything is super easy there. You can’t take bags or water bottles in (like at Durham), so you have to buy a 20p clear plastic bag to carry your laptop and notes around in. Also, they have their own numbering system which doesn’t group all the books together for a particular subject, as it is partially determined by book size. But you get over that because as one of the UK’s ‘copyright’ libraries, the the Cambridge UL should have a copy of every book published in the UK. I happened to find one not in their system–Kovacs and Rowland’s Revelation commentary. Fortunately, Tyndale had it so I didn’t have to order it from Durham. Locals can only check out 10 books at a time (vs 30 at Durham + another 30 at St. John’s if you are a member), but you can leave your books you’re working on at your desk with a specific marker so you don’t have to reshelve and find them each day. While Cambridge’s physical holdings of journals is quite nice, I was surprised to find that they don’t have many more electronic versions of journals than Durham.
We found a relatively cheap hotel next to the rail station: Cityroomz. The room was clean and all have en-suite bathrooms. However, they were tiny–think jail cell, with bunk beds. Since we only went there to sleep, it more than met our needs. Also, the continental breakfast was better than average.
I had a brief chat with Richard Hays at Tyndale, who is on his sabbatical there this summer/autumn. It was nice that he remembered me from our car trip to Manchester earlier this year. He told me that he thought NTW would give me lots of work to do. I should have my kick-off meeting with NTW in the next week or two, and I’ll find out then the extent of the work expected of me.
One other highlight of the trip was finding a duplicate book at Tyndale’s library–Hahne’s Corruption and Redemption of Creation: The Natural World in Romans 8:19-22 and Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (LNTS 336)–because it had been ordered under the Romans section and the eschatology section. I told the librarian that I would be interested in taking one of the copies off their hands if they were interested. She thought that would be good and gave it to me for £12! I also picked up a new copy of Pickett’s The Cross in Corinth: Social Significance of the Death of Jesus (JSNTS 143) for £6 at Galloway and Porter. I’m not a big book buyer, but these were too good to pass up.