Tag Archives: archives

Torah from Yemen housed in Special Collections

Torah Scroll copied in Yemen, c. 1750. Housed in Library Special Collections

by Don Gantz, Head of Archives & Special Collections

Regent University recently received an 18th century Torah scroll from Ken and Barbara Larson, a couple whose mission is to gift Torah scrolls to academic institutions for study and inspiration.1

The Torah is the first five books of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures and is foundational to the faith of both. It is hand-written in Hebrew consonants by scribes observing traditions passed down for thousands of years. Dr. Scott Carroll, the scholar working with the Larsons, observed that the rules of the writing process have fixed the text of the Torah.

Our scroll has been dated at about 1750 and originated in Yemen. The history of the Jewish community in Yemen is long and fascinating and is still unfolding. Some forty thousand Yemenite Jews were airlifted to the newly formed nation of Israel in 1949, and just last month, Israel airlifted 19 of the remaining Jews out of the country. A Jewish man and Muslim airport worker have been arrested for helping to smuggle out a 500-year-old Torah.2

The Torah scroll donated by the Larsons consists of 50 calf skins that were made into parchment and sewn together. If unrolled entirely it would be 80 feet long. Most of the skins have five columns of text, but not all the skins are the same width. Some of the skins have holes and other minor defects outside the writing area. Some holes are covered with sewn patches. Some loose seams have been re-sewn by a conservator.

The text has about 860 noted corrections, most being corrections to the form of letters. Special formats of spacing in the text are evident which indicate important passages, such as the Ten Commandments, the song of Moses, and the priestly blessing. Each of the books ends exactly four lines short of the full 51 lines of the previous full columns, an amazing feat of scribal planning.

Now Regent faculty and students, especially those studying Biblical Hebrew, can study and read from a unique and inspiring primary source with a rich history.

The scroll is being stored in a specially designed case in Library Special Collections. Persons desiring to see it should contact by email the Special Collections Supervisor, Donald Gantz (donagan@regent.edu).


1 Brett W. Tubbs, “Regent University Presented with Gift of 18th Century Torah,” Regent University News, March 17, 2016, https://www.regent.edu/news-events/regent-university-presented-gift-18th-century-torah/

2 Adam E. Berkowitz, “Yemen Arrests Jew for Smuggling Ancient Torah to Israel,” Breaking Israel News, March 25, 2016, https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/64353/yemen-arrests-jew-for-smuggling-ancient-torah-to-israel-jewish-world/.

What is Special Collections?

What is Special Collections? (And why is it locked up?)

by Jason Stuart, Reference Librarian

In 2013, Special Collections hosted the Living Word exhibition of ancient Biblical manuscripts. In 2013, Special Collections hosted the Living Word exhibition of ancient Biblical manuscripts.

The University Library’s Special Collections & Archives are a treasure trove of unique primary source materials and artifacts. Researchers have travelled from all over the United States and Great Britain to unlock the secrets of our vault.

Although the Library’s Special Collections is becoming an important destination for 20th Century Christian history research, the 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey suggests that most students are unaware of Special Collections. Here are two of the comments we received:

Library dedicates archives of Charismatic leaders

Rev. Dr. Dennis J. Bennett is considered by many the “first Charismatic.” His brother-in-law, Dr. William Standish Reed, is considered by many the “first medical evangelist.” The archives of both men reside at the University Library. On October 24, the Library dedicated the Rev. Dennis J. Bennett Papers and the William Standish Reed, M.D. Collection. The dedication featured an exhibition of artifacts from the archives and several speakers, including Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, Dr. Amos Yong, Dr. Vinson Synan, Dr. Kimberly Alexander, Dr. Rita Bennett, Mrs. Jo Ann “Coppi” Reed, and Rev. Roger Cheeks.

For more about the archives and the dedication ceremony see Brett Wilson’s article for Regent News and Events. Photos from the ceremony are available on the Library’s Facebook, Flickr, and Google+ sites, and a video of the event will be uploaded to our YouTube channel soon.

Archives Dedication: Celebrating two leaders in the Charismatic movement

Written by Sara Baron, Ed.D., Dean of the University LibraryRev. Dr. Dennis J. Bennett

You may have read about the Charismatic movement in your classes or heard about it in your church. Perhaps you have even been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But there was a time in America when people did not celebrate these gifts or talk about them. The Charismatic movement in mainstream Christian churches began in the late 1950s and consisted of people manifesting the gifts of the Holy Spirit out in the open. Two great leaders of the movement are being honored by Regent University on October 24, 2013.

Dr. William Standish ReedRev. Dr. Dennis J. Bennett is considered by many the “first Charismatic.” His brother-in-law, Dr. William Standish Reed, is considered by many the “first medical evangelist.” The archives of both men reside at the Regent University Library. The Rev. Dennis J. Bennett Papers and the William Standish Reed, M.D. Collection will be dedicated and celebrated on this day with a number of speakers, video tributes, remarks from their spouses, Dr. Rita Bennett and Mrs. Jo Ann “Coppi” Reed, and an exhibit of artifacts from their archives. Speakers include Dr. Vinson Synan, Visiting professor of Church History, who will discuss the history of the Charismatic movement and the importance of Rev. Bennett in its earliest days. Dr. Kimberly Alexander, Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, will discuss the Charismatic movement’s emphasis on healing and the Holy Spirit and how Dr. William Standish Reed was instrumental in spreading the Word as a prominent medical doctor. Video clips of both men during the heights of their ministries will be shared along with video tributes from Stephen Strang, founder and editor of Charisma magazine; John and Elizabeth “Tib” Sherrill, writers and historians from the Charismatic movement; and Kenneth Copeland, Pentecostal leader and friend of both men.

Regent University Founder and Chancellor Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson will offer remarks and formally dedicate the archival collections. As the Charismatic movement receives more and more attention from historians of Christianity, this event is a wonderful opportunity to hear about and from people who lived during the origins of the movement, people who shaped the movement, and people who, above all, shared the Good News of Christ with others. We hope you can join us for this wonderful event!

Event Details:

Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm
Regent University Library Gallery
RSVP Stephanie Lowell, 757-352-4185 or
For more information, visit the
Archives Dedication webpage.

What do they do? — Don Gantz

Don Gantz
Special Collections and Archives Assistant Supervisor

I have been at Regent University Library since 1994. I was a student here in the School of Biblical Studies in the mid-1980s.

The mission of Special Collections and Archives is to collect, preserve, provide access to, and interpret resources relevant to Regent University’s history, culture, curriculum, and special interests. Although items in Special Collections may not be checked out, most of our collections are available to access by appointment.

The Archives portion of the department is limited to the history of Regent. My position at the Library is sometimes known as “archivist,” which should not to be confused with “anarchist,” especially since anarchists are generally not much interested in preserving old documents and institutional memory! Preserving the documents that chronicle Regent’s history is important, since, as someone has wisely observed, if we don’t write our own history, someone else will. Because work in the archives keeps me out of sight for much of the day, faculty and students have occasionally seen fit to give me other titles, e.g. “Quasimodo” (from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The Special Collections are distinct from the Archives in that they extend beyond the history of Regent. For example, we have extensive collections related to the history of the Pentecostal and Charismatic renewal movements. The Special Collections and Archives department also creates most of the displays that you see on the first floor of the library throughout the year.

My favorite pastime is being delighted and tormented by my granddaughters Abigail, age 8, and Caitlyn, age 5.