BW Foreword by Wilbur M. Smith

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FOREWORD by Wilbur M. Smith

Librarianship today, like the Christian ministry, has become a very complex and departmentalized profession, and often there seems to be an increasing drift to the labor of creating and supervising mere organizational activities. For this reason today librarians often seem more or less confined to organizational tasks and promotion, and have little time for producing that type of literature which is so basically important in making the resources of a library available for students.

I have had the privilege of knowing many librarians of ecclesiastical institutions over the past fifty years, all of whom have been so very kind to me, but I am sure they would agree that from these gifted custodians of great collections we have had through these decades very few new tools for research such as they could produce. How rarely do we find a librarian of a theological seminary today producing such a book as the Bibliography of Jesus Christ by Samuel Gardiner Ayres.

The author this book for which I am writing this Foreword is an exception to this general practice. Dr. Arnold D. Ehlert has served as librarian in three theological seminaries... at Dallas, at Fuller, and now at Talbot. Throughout the more than a score of years that I have known him, he has always revealed a spirit of enthusiasm for bibliographic research, for the searching out of rare works, and the persistent building up of collections of material, some quite rare, in various areas of theological literature, particularly eschatology. This enthusiasm and unrelenting pursuit of a subject are so clearly revealed in the first chapter of this book, in which the author gives us some account of his extensive labors lavished on this one study of Brethren literature, probably the most difficult area of theological literature for bibliographic identification. Indeed, personally, I found this chapter one of the most delightful I have read for many years in the area of bibliography. When a librarian invites us to accompany him on his bibliographic travels, and to sit up with him through the night when he is attempting to bring order out of a vast accumulation of notes.

As an illustration of how much Dr. Ehlert has uncovered, we need only note his statement, that while the Library of Congress Catalogue of Printed Books lists three titles for William Kelly, Dr. Ehlert has recorded over two hundred! While there are only two cards in this great library under J.N. Darby, Dr. Ehlert has collected over one hundred titles for him! Only one card, he tells us, appears to have been printed for B.W. Newton, while Dr. Ehlert has discovered over 125 titles. This work is indeed "a labor of love."

I could only wish, and I am sure many others will join me in this when they have examined the volume for which I am writing this Foreword, that some publishing house or some foundation (or both), would offer adequate support to Dr. Ehlert for publishing the full results of these years of research, and thus give us a volume not only listing these some 1000 authors, but making available complete bibliographic details for each of their writings. It should be done. Dr. Ehlert is the one man of this generation who could superbly accomplish such a task.

-- Wilbur M. Smith San Marino, California


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