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NOBTS puts rare theology documents online comment (0)

August 6, 2009

NEW ORLEANS — The Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) has launched a new exhibit with downloadable digital copies of a series of rare theology documents.

The collection of 16th- and 17th-century documents, available at baptistcenter.com, includes articles written by Baptists and their critics.

Lloyd Harsch, associate professor of church history at NOBTS, specializes in Baptist heritage and has been digitizing the rarest and most important pamphlets from a collection recently rediscovered in the seminary’s archives.

“John T. Christian, a church historian and the original librarian at the NOBTS, gathered these pamphlets during his travels, collecting documents relating to Baptist beliefs and origins,” Harsch said.

Although the documents were displayed in the library at one point, they were packed away and forgotten in some long-overlooked boxes.

But an NOBTS library staff member rediscovered the rare works while cleaning a storage area a few years ago.

Wanting to preserve the rare pamphlets, Harsch applied digitization technology to the materials.

The research and technology for the digitization effort and for a subsequent project related to Baptist confessions of faith were funded by three scholarly grants.

Although delayed by Hurricane Katrina, Harsch spent more than a year studying digitization techniques and methods at the University of North Texas in Denton in order to produce the best electronic versions of the rare pieces.

In addition to adding more old pamphlets relating to Baptists and Anabaptists, the center also intends to display digitized copies of key Baptist confessions of faith, another aspect of Harsch’s research.

“Our goal is to make these hard-to-find original documents accessible to scholars all over the world in order to promote the study and appreciation of our Baptist heritage,” said Steve Lemke, the seminary’s provost who also directs the center.

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