Conference: Reading the Ministry in the Americas, 1492 – Present | Newberry

Conference: Reading the Ministry in the Americas, 1492 – Present

The Eliot Bible

The Eliot Bible (VAULT Ayer 421 .M435 B5 1663), a translation of the Bible into the Massachusett language published in 1663, was intended to be the centerpiece of an “Indian Library” that was meant to convert and edify Indigenous peoples in North America.

On October 10-11, the Newberry’s Center for Renaissance Studies and its McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies collaborated to present “Reading the Ministry in the Americas, 1492-Present.” This conference brought into dialogue the scholarly communities of the two centers to explore the development, use, and afterlife of religious libraries in the Americas. Through scholarly talks, roundtables, discussions, and a collection presentation, two key aspects of religious book collections in North and South America were explored: 1) the Indigenous experience and use of religious libraries from the colonial period onwards, and 2) the historical transition of these libraries from active seminary collections into “rare book collections” maintained at institutions like the Newberry Library. In this way, the conference provided the opportunity to share stories of conversion, resistance, and syncretism that have shaped the experience of Christianity in the Americas from the fifteenth century to the present day.