Among the treasures of Lincoln’s Senior Library is its collection of Hebraica and Judaica. Although the collection is relatively small (just over 400 works in Hebrew and Aramaic with related works in Latin and Greek), it is one of the most remarkable of its kind not only for its range and depth but for the insight it provides into the study of Hebrew in Oxford in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Hebrew books at Lincoln come largely from the private libraries of two prominent Oxford Christian-Hebraists, both Fellows of Lincoln: Richard Kilby (1560-1620) and Thomas Marshall (1621-1685). Kilby was Regius Professor of Hebrew from 1610 until his death in 1620 and one of the translators of the King James Bible. His collection of Hebraica, recorded in the Library donors’ book, was rare even in its own time, with volumes from the major centres of Hebrew printing in Europe, and includes important editions of the Bible, dictionaries of Hebrew and Arabic and biblical commentaries. Thomas Marshall was one of most important philologists of the 17th century and a master of Frisian, Arabic, Aramaic and Coptic as well as Latin, Greek and Hebrew. His impressive library of Hebraica, much of which was acquired during his period of exile in the Netherlands, includes volumes belonging to Continental scholars of Hebrew, including Joseph Scaliger and Daniel Heins.
Thanks to a generous donation from the John S. Cohen Foundation, the Lincoln Hebraica collection has been now catalogued making this valuable library, with everything it can tell us about the study of Hebrew in the 16th and 17th centuries, Biblical scholarship in the period and the work of Hebraists not only in Oxford but across Europe, fully available to scholars.