Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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Why Go to Seminary?

Why go to seminary? Admittedly, many readers of this blog–namely, seminarians–will have already answered such a question for themselves. But maybe you need a reminder, especially in these last weeks of papers and (gulp!) final exams.

Mark Rogers, who did his PhD at TEDS and is on staff at the church I attend, recently wrote a wonderful piece on the Gospel Coalition blog answering this question with five big points drawn from the wisdom of Timothy Dwight: (1) time to study, (2) the library, (3) the faculty, (4) other students, and (5) the doctrine. I recommend you give it a read (it’s short!).

But let me briefly highlight the one you might tend to forget, or to undervalue–reason #2. Mark writes,

Full-time students have lots of time to read–more than they’ll ever have in full-time ministry. Broad and deep reading is one of the main purposes of seminary. Professors are there to teach and mentor, but also to force you to read. As you read, you learn and grow, you learn how to read, and you learn what’s worth reading.

You can’t afford all the books, journals, articles, and dictionaries you’re required to read. That’s why strong seminaries and divinity schools have extensive and growing libraries. A good library gives you access to vast amounts of knowledge and distilled wisdom you cannot find online. If you’re in seminary, take advantage of the library–you’ll miss it when you’re gone.

Logos is great, and so are e-books and discount books from Amazon. But face it: once you’ve graduated from TEDS, you won’t have access to anywhere near Rolfing’s carefully acquired 200,000 volumes.

So let’s give thanks to God for the great blessing to our training and scholarship that our library represents and take full advantage of it while we are students.


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Book Display: Complementarian vs. Egalitarian

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Dr. Philip B. Payne’s book “Man and Woman, One in Christ”

I recently had an interesting experience while having dinner with friends. We were discussing teaching pastors at various churches we had attended over the years. At some point in the conversation, someone at the table brought up a woman pastor who occasionally preached at their church. Tension instantly filled the room. One dinner guest promptly began to share his strict complementarian views as the egalitarian folks squirmed in their seats. The tension continued to rise as it became quite clear that the tone of our dinner conversation had turned from pleasant to hostile. This debate has been around since the time of the early church, and has been the source of lively conversation, debates, and even church splits.

This month we would like to highlight an event taking place on campus that deals with this very issue. Author, professor and theologian, Philip Barton Payne of Fuller Theological Seminary Northwest, will be leading a discussion on the biblical view of men and women in ministry, their relationships with each other and how this affects culture. This event will take place in the ATO Chapel on November 12th from 7pm to 9pm. We would love to see you there!

Check out our book display at the entrance of the library to find books and media that Rolfing offers about the role of women in the church, providing both a complementarian and egalitarian perspective.

For more information check out Dr. Payne’s website, and read reviews of his most recent book,  Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters, from the Denver Seminary and the Gospel Coalition.

Where do you fall on the Complementarian-Egalitarian spectrum? How do we factor culture into our interpretation of scriptures surrounding these issues? Why is this issue so divisive?  I want to hear your thoughts on this issue, feel free to comment below!

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Rare Books at Rolfing

rare books at rolfing library

A glimpse of the rare books shelves

Rolfing Library has collections that expand far beyond the commentaries and compilations in our open stacks. We have an archive that preserves papers and files regarding the history of TIU; electronic books accessible via Kindle, tablet, or smartphone; newly released movies on Blu-ray and DVD; and online tutorials that explain everything from using Zotero to formatting a thesis. We even have a rare books collection!

What’s a rare book? A rare book is not simply an old book. It is a book that is truly rare. That is, there are very few others like it in the world, or perhaps it’s even one-of-a-kind. A rare book can be an illuminated manuscript from the twelfth century, or a first edition of Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili from 1492, or a scrapbook of paper clippings cut-and-pasted by Thomas Jefferson, or even an artist’s book that utilizes found objects like paper clips and bottle caps to decorate its hand-sewed pages. Rare books may contain an author’s signature, or annotations by a historical figure, or original artwork.

Generally speaking, rare books are in high demand, so they often have a high monetary value. In addition, they are often fragile or sensitive to elements like light and humidity, making them difficult to store and preserve. Now, our collection doesn’t necessarily have a high monetary value, nor does it contain many one-of-a-kind examples. It’s rare in another manner, though: its contents represent theological and religious texts in early editions that are, at times, not available elsewhere in Chicago, in the state of Illinois, or even in America. These books are rare primarily because they are unique to this part of the world, and that makes them extremely valuable to TIU scholars.

early binding in rare books collection

Seventeenth-century binding and metal clasps

I recently spent a few hours in the archives, sizing up our collection of rare materials. I emerged with only a basic understanding of the scope, depth, and academic value of the collection. I don’t even know how many rare books we have, let alone details about their publication and provenance. But I did recognize some pretty unique volumes. One book, published in 1604, still has its original blind-stamped parchment binding (possibly pigskin) that is nearly contemporary with the publication date. Better yet, the binding retains a spiraled metal clasp attached to the book’s back cover with a leather band. Although this type of binding was fairly common in mid-seventeenth century Europe, it’s a relatively rare holding for a small, private university in northern Illinois.

As I continue my exploration of Rolfing’s rare books collection, I’ll be sure to update you with other unique finds. The cataloging process for these books is still underway, but eventually you’ll also be able to search and find them all in our local catalog. In the meantime, you can contact me or our archivist to make an appointment to view a specific book. And if you want to know more about rare books in general, I invite you to tool around the Rare Book Room, check out the Library of Congress’s Rare Book and Special Collections site, or explore the Gutenberg Museum’s collection of printed books. Enjoy!