500 Years of Treasures from Oxford

500 Years of Treasures from Oxford

500 Years of Treasures from Oxford showcases in America for the first time an extraordinary array of ancient manuscripts, books, and silver, including what has been called “the most important collection of Anglo-Jewish manuscripts in the world.”

The exhibition opened at Yeshiva University Museum, based at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street), on May 14th and will run through August 6th, 2017. The 50 scintillating works include a late 12th-century Ashkenazi siddur (book of daily prayers), thought to be the oldest extant anywhere, that was owned by a Sephardic Jew from the Iberian Peninsula who emigrated to England and wrote notes on his business dealings in Judeo-Arabic, a 13th-century manuscript of Samuel and Chronicles that was used by Christians to learn Hebrew, and two of the oldest manuscripts of Rashi in the world.

The show not only reveals Corpus’ then revolutionary study of Scripture in its original languages, but, through dazzling illuminated texts, the early origins of English and French, Italian Renaissance works, and explorations of the natural world (including contemporary sketches of Galileo’s observations of the moon’s surface, and a letter by Newton about the orbits of comets).

A rich array of programming, including lectures, gallery talks, and docent-led tours will complement the exhibition throughout its run, featuring such speakers as Brad Sabin Hill (former Fellow in Hebrew Bibliography, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies), Roger Cohen (columnist, The New York Times), Lenn Goodman (Vanderbilt University), and Gerry Baker (editor-in-chief, The Wall Street Journal).

500 Years reveals to America a collection of astonishing treasures that are usually only accessible to scholars with specific research requirements. We hope you will continue to support this project as we celebrate these important texts and Corpus’ 500th anniversary as a center of cross-cultural, cross-religious study.


Exhibition Hours

Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Monday: 5:00pm - 8:00pm (Free)
Tuesday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday: 11:00am – 8:00pm (Free after 5pm)
Thursday: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Friday: 11:00am – 2:30pm (Free)
Admission Fees (unless otherwise noted):

Adults: $8
Seniors: $6
Students: $6
CJH & YUM Members: Free
YU faculty, administration & students (ID required): Free
Children under 5: Free
Corpus Christi alumni: Free




500 Years of Treasures from Oxford is made possible by funding from The David Berg Foundation, Mr. Warren Finegold, Mr. Marc Gabelli, Mr. Alan Goulty and Dr. Lillian Harris, The Roger and Susan Hertog Charitable Fund, The Hite Foundation, The Kirsh Foundation, Mr. Satyen Mehta, Monticello Associates, Mr. Bruce Slovin, and Mr. Robert Watson. Media sponsor: The Wall Street Journal

Exhibition Highlights


Guyart Desmoulins, Bible historiale complétée, vol. 1
[France, Tours, early 16th century]
Written and illuminated on parchment, each leaf c. 385 x 270 mm
Call-number: MS 385 (vol. II is MS 386)
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Rashi, Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible
[France(?), late 12th century or c. 1200]
Written on parchment, each leaf c. 250 x 200 mm
Call-number: MS 165
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
[England, London, early 15th Century]
Written and illuminated on parchment, each leaf c. 335 x 225 mm
Call-number: MS 198
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Royal Genealogy in Middle English, from Adam and Eve to Edward IV
[England, London or Westminster, c. 1467-69]
Written and illuminated on parchment, each page c. 235 x 415 mm
Call-number: MS 207
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Isaac Newton (d.1727), Letter to John Flamsteed (d.1719)
[Cambridge, 28 February 1681]
Written and sketched on paper, each leaf c. 300 x 200 mm
Call-number: MS 361.1
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Galileo Galilei (d. 1642), Siderus Nuncius
Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, 1610
Printed on paper, with drawings added by hand, each leaf c. 230 x 160mm
Call-number: Delt.22.I(6)
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

The biblical books of Samuel and Chronicles
[England, perhaps Oxford, 13th century, first half]
Written on parchment, each leaf c. 195 x 140 mm
Call-number: MS 9
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

The biblical books of Samuel and Chronicles
[England, perhaps Oxford, 13th century, first half]
Written on parchment, each leaf c. 195 x 140 mm
Call-number: MS 9
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

The Psalms, preceded by prefaces
[England, probably Oxford, 13th century, second quarter]
Written on parchment, each leaf c. 330 x 250 mm
Call-number: MS 10
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

The Psalms, in Hebrew and Latin parallel versions
[England, perhaps Oxford, 13th century, second half]
Written on parchment, each leaf c. 290 x 205 mm
Call-number: MS 11
Image reproduced by permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

RELATED EVENTS

Thursday, June 15, 6:30pm

Oxford and the Printing of Judeo-Arabic
Speaker: Brad Sabin Hill, former Fellow in Hebrew Bibliography, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Oxford is famed for the ancient books and manuscripts in its libraries, which also hold some of the greatest Hebrew collections in the world.  Less known is the role of Oxford in the study and dissemination of texts in other Jewish languages, such as Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Persian, and Judeo-Provencal.  Most extraordinary is the case of the printing at Oxford, in the mid-17th century, of the first Judeo-Arabic book.

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Tuesday, June 20, 6:30pm

Liberty and Facts: Isaiah Berlin in the Age of Trump
Speaker: Roger Cohen, New York Times

Recognized as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, Isaiah Berlin was a Russian-British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas. As a prominent Corpus Christi College alumnus, essayist, conversationalist, raconteur and lecturer, he is most known for his iconic lecture “Two Concepts of Liberty,” which was the inaugural lecture delivered by Berlin before the University of Oxford on October 31, 1958. It was subsequently published as a 57-page pamphlet by Oxford at the Clarendon Press. He is also remembered for his work on liberal theory and pluralism. Roger Cohen, noted journalist and The New York Times columnist, will speak on the importance of Berlin’s work and ideas, especially in a time of growing intolerance.

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Wednesday, July 12, 6:30pm

Oxford’s Aleppo Connection: Edward Pococke (1604-1691) from Humanism to Enlightenment via Hebrew and Arabic Learning
Speaker: Lenn Goodman, Vanderbilt University

On returning from Syria, Edward Pococke (1604-1691) became the first tenant of the chair in Arabic founded by Archbishop Laud. Besides translating Arabic books of history and poetry and commenting on books of the Hebrew prophets, Pococke introduced in England the work of the great Jewish philosopher, physician and jurist Moses Maimonides, overseeing the forging of special fonts to make possible his Porta Mosis, the Gateway to Moses (Maimonides). And he translated into Latin Ibn Tufayl’s 12th century Arabic philosophical novel Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, the story of a man growing up without parents or language – a thought experiment designed to show what a human mind could achieve without the benefit (or interference) of tradition. Translated into many languages, the book influenced Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and helped inspire the transition from Renaissance humanism, with its devotion to Greek, Latin, and Hebrew texts, to the Enlightenment ideal of independent thinking.

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Tuesday, July 25, 6:30pm

News and Journalism in the Age of Trump
Traditional news is facing disruption from all sides. Digital media are unraveling the advertising-based business model, an environment of political hyper-partisanship is undermining the idea of objectivity in reporting and the emergence of alternative sources of information, from so-called "fake news" to commercial and institutional propaganda, is challenging even the very notion of truth.

Join Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker for a review and discussion of these far-reaching developments and their implications for political and civil discourse in a modern democratic society.

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About Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Founded in 1517, Corpus Christi College, one of the oldest of the 38 self-governing colleges at the University of Oxford, delivers world-class undergraduate and graduate education to students of exceptional potential, regardless of financial background, through rigorous academic selection, individual and small group tutorial education, and personal support. It provides an academically diverse environment in which students may mature towards independence in study and research. The College also aims to promote research and instruction of the highest quality by its Fellows, all of them distinguished teachers and researchers in their fields, and study by its students, for the benefit of wider understanding. Its honey-colored, limestone buildings are among the most beautiful in Oxford, and its remarkable 16th-century Library is one of the jewels of the city yet closed to the general public, making the rare glimpse afforded by this exhibition all the more extraordinary.

500 Years of Treasures from Oxford is made possible by funding from The David Berg Foundation, Mr. Warren Finegold, Mr. Marc Gabelli, Mr. Alan Goulty and Dr. Lillian Harris, The Roger and Susan Hertog Charitable Fund, The Hite Foundation, The Kirsh Foundation, Mr. Satyen Mehta, Monticello Associates, Mr. Bruce Slovin, and Mr. Robert Watson. Media sponsor: The Wall Street Journal