Turning a New Page in an Old Book

Professor Rob Hiebert, Director of the Septuagint Institute at Trinity Western University, holds three new books in an acquired old library from former Septuagint expert John Wevers. Wevers recently donated all 3000 lbs of his Septuagint library to TWU.

89-year-old John Wevers, a renowned Septuagint scholar and former professor at the University of Toronto, slowly and cautiously navigates the narrow steps to the basement of his home to oversee the process of packing up his priceless library. Wevers is donating his lifetime collection to Trinity Western University and TWU professor Dr. Rob Hiebert is happy the collection has found a new and permanent home.

Wevers, now too weak to live at home and now residing in retirement care, was determined to see his library put to good use. A former student of Wevers, Hiebert is now the Director of TWU's Septuagint Institute, the only research center of its kind North America. Hiebert had earlier volunteered the university as a place for the generous donation.

Some may wonder what the Septuagint is and why this library of books is so important to scholars. Known simply as LXX, the Septuagint is the earliest Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible - the Old Testament. The Septuagint Institute at TWU is dedicated to the study of this anthology of ancient texts. Created to promote research into the Septuagint, the Institute involves the largest group of specialists in this field of research at any academic institution in the country: Dr. Rob Hiebert, Dr. Larry Perkins, Dr. Dirk Büchner and Dr. Peter Flint. This new donation of books on the Septuagint will prove invaluable to the Institute's study of the ancient texts.

Wevers and Hiebert share a passion for these old books. Earlier this summer Hiebert joined Wevers' two sons in packing up the collection. He recalls, "As we were working and Professor Wevers sat watching us, I was impressed again by the many important monographs, series and reference works that we were handling-perhaps 3000 or more volumes in all-some of which are now rare and virtually impossible to get elsewhere, and I remarked to him what an amazing resource this is. It is, as he said, without a doubt a unique collection in all of Canada."

The weight of the collection is estimated to be over 3000 pounds. Hiebert notes that packing it up was an emotional experience, both for himself and for Wevers. "At one point Wevers said that he felt he had made a worthwhile contribution to the world of Old Testament scholarship. I agreed wholeheartedly," says Hiebert. "I was pleased to observe that what he lacks in physical strength and mobility he makes up for in continuing mental sharpness and a sense of humour."

The donation of books will be celebrated this fall when the Septuagint Institute and TWU plays host to an international Septuagint conference entitled "Septuagint Translation(s): Retrospect and Prospect." The conference, running September 18-20, will see some of the world's most prominent biblical scholars who will discuss the results of their current research on the Septuagint.

On the personal significance of the donation of the library, Hiebert says, "Needless to say, this was a poignant day for Professor Wevers and for me. In letting go of his library, he was in effect acknowledging that his long and productive career in academic scholarship is now over." He adds, "In my case, I could not have envisioned when I first met Professor Wevers as an undergraduate that I would, a good many years later as Director of the Septuagint Institute, have the privilege of participating in this passing of the torch from U of T to TWU/ACTS, symbolized by the move of this great library across the country."

More information about the collection can be found by visiting the Marion Alloway Library at www.twu.ca/library or the Septuagint Institute at Septuagint

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C. is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 40 major areas of study ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology and leadership, and offers interdisciplinary studies in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Biblical Studies, Biology and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.


Last Updated: 2008-08-12
Author: Jamie Hall