R.H. Charles Papers

Scope and Content

Small collection of papers and photographic material presented to the University Library by the Biblical Scholar, R.H. Charles, Archdeacon of Westminster (1855-1931) consisting mainly of photographs (positive and negative) of original Aramaic, Greek and Ethiopic biblical manuscripts dating from the 10th to the 15th centuries. These items were largely used by Charles in the preparation of his scholarly texts on 'The Ethiopic Version of the Book of Enoch' (1906) and 'The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs' (1908). Annotated editions of these publications are included in the collection as is his 'Lectures on the Apocalypse' from 1922.

Administrative / Biographical History

R.H. Charles, born 6 Aug 1855, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Educated at Belfast Academy, Queen's College Belfast (Classics, 1874-80), and Trinity College Dublin (Classics and Theology). Ordained Deacon in 1883 and Priest in 1884. Married to Mary Lilias, 1886, no children. Served several curacies in England from 1883 to 1889 before turning to academia in 1890. His studies focused on the religious developments within Judaism in the period between the Testaments, concentrating particularly on the exposition of the Apocalyptic literature, both Christian and Jewish. Charles's work attracted a great deal of attention during his lifetime, becoming a leading authority on his chosen specialisms. He became Professor of Biblical Greek at Trinity College Dublin (1898-1906), the Grinfield lecturer on the Septuagint (1905-11), Speaker's lecturer in Biblical Studies at Oxford (1910-14), Warburton lecturer in Lincoln's Inn Chapel from 1919, and Schweich lecturer of the British Academy (1919-20). He was also elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1906 and of Merton College, Oxford in 1910. In 1925 he was the first recipient of the British Academy Medal for Biblical Studies. Charles also received honorary degrees from the universities of Belfast in 1923 and Oxford in 1928 in recognition for his work. In 1913 he was appointed a canon of Westminster, becoming archdeacon later in 1919. He died at his home in Little Cloisters on 30 January 1931.

Publications: Book of Enoch (1893, 2nd ed. 1912); Apocalypse of St John ( 2 vols., 1920); Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (1929); Book of Jubilees (1895); Enoch (1906); The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (1908); The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English (2 vols., 1913); A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel in Judaism and in Christianity (1899, 2nd revised and enlarged ed., 1913); Religious Development between the Old and the New Testaments (1914); Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu (1916).

Access Information

Open to consultation. Material in English, with some in Greek


Description prepared by Clare McVeigh (RASCAL Project), entered by Deirdre Wildy, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Hard copy catalogue available. See 'Calendar of Manuscripts Western and Oriental' for details (MS5). This calendar is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying permitted depending on physical condition of the original and relevant copyright restrictions.

Appraisal Information

Although mainly including copies of original manuscripts, this collection is notable for the reproductions it provides, which would be of benefit to those interested in Old Testament studies and/or in palaeography.

Custodial History

These papers were presented to the University Library by the Ven. R.H. Charles, Archdeacon of Westminster, in December 1922. Arrangements for the deposit were made per Professor G. Gregory Smith (English Literature, Queen's, 1909-30).