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The Hebrew Collections in Oxford

A Treasure Grove for Jewish Studies

Piet van Boxel

The Bodleian Library of Oxford University – one of the oldest and largest in Europe – is among the most celebrated libraries in the world. Its unrivalled collections of manuscripts and books have served generations of students, thus making Oxford a meeting place of international learning and the capital of the Republic of scholars. With its beginnings in the fourteenth century the library owes the first phase of its reputation to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV, who donated his priceless collection of more than 280 manuscripts, including several important classical texts, to Oxford University. In order to accommodate this major donation the library was moved from its original location – a room above the Old Congregation House, erected next to St Mary’s church – to the Divinity School, which was enlarged with a second storey that was completed in 1470.