“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (II Timothy 4:13, ESV)
— Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy as an old man imprisoned in a hole in the ground for spreading Christianity.
The Mamertine Prison is now a tourist destination included on many guided tours of Rome. Back then it was a literal hell-hole for the prisoners who were lowered into this cave-like underground dungeon through a hole in the ceiling. It was here in which the Apostle Paul was likely imprisoned near the end of his life.
Dark. Cold. Lonely.
And yet, he wanted his books. Why? What possible purpose could books serve for someone who knew what it was to have divine truth pour out through his own quill? Paul planted churches, invested in people, taught and discipled those who would teach and disciple. He penned two-thirds of the New Testament. And when the end seemed near, he wanted people … and books?
Lord willing, I will spend the next few posts attempting to answer this question and the implications for ministry in general and the ministry of theological librarianship in particular.
- Post I. The purpose of books/parchments for Paul
- Post II. The look of that purpose/need today
- Post III. How we as theological librarians can meet that need.