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Liberty News

School of Divinity receives $1 million donation of rare Bibles

December 18, 2015 : Liberty University News Service

At the Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity faculty meeting on Thursday, Dr. Harold Rawlings, a longtime supporter of the university, announced that he is donating his personal collection of rare books and Bibles valued at over $1 million to the school.
Dr. Harold Rawlings (left) with Dr. Ed Hindson, dean of Liberty University's Rawlings School of Divinity, with a first edition 1560 Geneva Bible, one of the many rare Bibles donated to the school by Rawlings on Thursday.

The Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity has received a donation of rare books and Bibles valued at over $1 million from Dr. Harold Rawlings' personal collection. Rawlings, a longtime supporter of Liberty, was on campus last month, along with his three brothers, to make a $5 million donation to the university. The School of Divinity was named in their honor at that time.

The donation of Bibles was presented during a faculty meeting on Thursday. The collection includes a first edition of a 1539 Great Bible, the first English Bible authorized by King Henry VIII; a 1561 Tyndale New Testament, the first English Catholic Bible, and a 1560 first edition Geneva Bible, the Bible brought to America by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620. It also includes a first edition 1537 Matthews Bible, a first edition 1568 Bishops Bible, two first edition 1611 King James Bibles, two first editions of 1563 “Fox’s Book of Martyrs,” and a number of other artifacts.

Harold Rawlings, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a preacher and now lectures at churches, conferences, and seminars worldwide, told School of Divinity faculty and staff that he is grateful that his collection will soon have a new home at Liberty.

“This collection will be a great help to the school; it will draw visitors, and it will also be a great source of help to you as professors as you research for your classes,” he told the faculty on Thursday. “This is a great place to permanently house the Rawlings collection of Bibles and artifacts."

Dr. Ed Hindson, dean of the School of Divinity, said that one of the passions that the Lord laid on Dr. Rawlings’ heart was to collect these historic Bibles as a testimony to the documents of the Christian faith.

“I think another indication of the Lord’s blessing on what we are doing right now in the School of Divinity is something we would have hoped for, dreamed for, and prayed for, and the Lord moved Dr. Rawlings’ heart to make this decision and to contact me and say ‘I think the Lord wants me to do this,’” he said. “We are blessed to have one of the finest and most significant collections of the Bible at Liberty.”

The artifacts will be housed in a scriptorium in the school's new home, currently under construction. The university broke ground on a two-and-half-story building and the 275-foot Freedom Tower in August. The project is set to be completed in Spring 2017.

The Rawlings family has remained a strong supporter of Liberty over the years, contributing greatly to the fulfillment of its vision to become a world-class Christian university. The father of Harold Rawlings, the late Dr. John Rawlings, was a mentor to the late Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty’s founder. He served in leadership roles at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo., where Jerry Falwell Sr. attended college in the early 1950s. Dr. Rawlings served as a pastor for over 70 years, including many years as senior pastor at Landmark Baptist Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an adviser to Jerry Falwell Sr. in his ministry and in the establishment of Liberty University and preached often in Lynchburg over the decades. Dr. Rawlings served in his later years on the Liberty University Board of Trustees. He died at age 99 in 2013. Under John Rawlings’ oversight, his family launched The Rawlings Foundation in 1995, helping to fund youth camp facilities and Bible institute campuses around the world.

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