FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson joined members of the Fort Worth community and Texas State Rep. Anna Mowery in dedicating the International Reference Library for Biblical Research in Fort Worth March 12.
The two-story facility, conceived by E. Earle Ellis, research professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary and past president of the Institute for Biblical Research, is located adjacent to the seminary’s main campus on property leased to the group in 2002. Under the lease agreement with the seminary, the library will hold the property for 30 years at the rate of $1 per year.
Organizers of the library call it a North American “Tyndale House,” a place where scholars can study and live at the same time as they do in Cambridge, England. The library is complete with an upstairs apartment and guest scholar’s room. The library also will host lecture series annually.
“We have worked to establish this library for the past 10 years,” Ellis said. “We have raised about $1 million, half in cash and the other half in gifts in kind. The other gift of great substance was the gift of a 7,000-volume library by a retired professor.”
Several foundations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were among the contributors, while Institute for Biblical Research members, who founded the library as a separate nonprofit organization, also contributed $100,000 to see their vision become reality, Ellis said.
Paul Wolfe, associate professor of New Testament and assistant dean for biblical studies at Southwestern, is the library’s superintendent. A former homebuilder, Wolfe oversaw the renovation of the building where the library is now housed. He said the importance of the facility should not be overlooked.
“There was a day when the evangelical voice was rather muted within the academy, seminaries and universities alike. Today, evangelical scholarship is making a significant contribution to the biblical and theological disciplines. But there is much more to be done,” Wolfe said.
“This reference library exists to continue to nurture faithful biblical scholarship in service to the church and her institutions of learning,” he continued, noting, “The importance of a project like this should not be underestimated lest we again find ourselves sliding into obscurity in contemporary culture’s world of ideas. Ideas have a history and consequences. This library exists to contribute positively to that history and to the articulation of ideas and understandings that will shape future generations in harmony with a biblical worldview.”
David Wenham, dean of Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University, was on hand for the dedication ceremony and brought greetings from Britain’s Tyndale Fellowship. Wenham lectured at the seminary in the week prior to the event.
Richard Taylor, IBR treasurer and a faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary, brought greetings from the institute. Fellow DTS faculty member Buist Fanning, and Simon Kistemaker, a faculty member at Reformed Seminary in Orlando, Fla., both IBR library directors, also attended.
The International Reference Library for Biblical Research is presently open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but organizers hope to extend operating hours soon. For membership information, contact the library at P.O. Box 22238, Fort Worth, TX 76122.