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Humanities Collection
Issac Newton, the Sydney Edelstein Collection, NLI

Humanities Collection

The Humanities Collection, one of the cornerstones of the Library, boasts an established and important corpus of primary sources and essential secondary literature in the humanities.

The collection's main areas of specialization are history, the classics, philosophy, the history of Christianity and the history of the book, as well as the Edelstein Collection – a unique collection of the history of science, medicine and technology.

The collection also serves as a depository library for publications issued by the United Nations and the European Union, collating all materials and reports issued by these bodies.

Themes of the Collection

The collection complements the Jewish StudiesIslam and Middle East, and Israel collections, providing background literature on the surrounding cultures, as well as ancillary research tools. The collection consists primarily of titles in English, German and French, alongside selected works in Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Greek, Russian and other languages.
The collection also serves the general scholarly needs of the public, including in disciplines and fields of knowledge that are not among its specialties, such as literature, art and the social sciences.

Christianity Collection

The Christianity collection at the National Library includes sources in several languages and translations from early Christianity onwards, representing different Christian denominations of East and West. 

The collection includes Christian exegesis, theological tracts and historical essays. It provides many research tools such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, lexicons, journals and databases covering the history of Christianity and theology. The collection also includes many research papers, past and present. 

Philosophy Collection

The philosophy collection at the National Library includes the writings of prominent philosophers from around the world in their original languages and translations.

Periodicals, encyclopedias, databases and secondary materials are also available. The collection focuses on Western philosophy, classical philosophy through the Middle-Ages, modernity and contemporary times, including the continental philosophy of the past two centuries in particular.

The Newton Manuscripts

A description of the apocalypse, from the National Library's Newton Papers

A description of the apocalypse, from the National Library's Newton Papers

​Among the many manuscripts preserved at the National Library are works by the man considered to be the greatest physicist of all time, Sir Isaac Newton. Contrary to what one might expect to find amid Newton’s works, these papers cover topics such as interpretations of the Bible, theology, the history of ancient cultures, the Tabernacle and Temple, calculations dealing with the end of days, historical documents, and even alchemy.

These papers introduce facets of Newton’s personality and work that the public has never before encountered. They are evidence of the great lengths that Newton went to in trying to decipher writings that, in his opinion, contained secret knowledge encrypted in the Holy Scriptures of ancient cultures and in historical documents. Exemplifying perfectly this type of research are Newton’s efforts to produce knowledge of scientific significance from the Biblical and Talmudic descriptions of the Tabernacle and Temple.

Newton’s diligence and precision is reflected in this research in the same manner it is reflected in his scientific work, and he regarded this science with the same religious fervor that made him see himself as a kind of prophet.

The manuscripts found at the National Library are from the collection of Abraham Shalom Yehuda (1877-1951), an expert in Middle Eastern affairs. Professor Yehuda purchased the manuscripts at a public auction at Sotheby’s of London in 1936. Other manuscripts in the collection, dealing mostly with the topic of alchemy, were purchased by the well-known economist, John Maynard Keynes, and are located at King’s College in Cambridge University.

The National Library’s Newton Papers Collection is now available to the general public in digital format. 

The digitization of this important collection of Newton manuscripts was made possible through the generous support and vision of the David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation.

History Collection

European history, from antiquity until the present, is a major field of study in the humanities.

The historical collection at the National Library includes major researches on ancient Greece, Hellenism, the Roman Republic and Imperial Rome, late antiquity and the Byzantine Empire; a broad collection covering the Middle-Ages, with an emphasis on the Crusades; the Renaissance and early and late modernity.

The history collection includes many literary sources in their original languages and their translations as well as encyclopedias, dictionaries and lexicons and secondary materials. A major section of the history collection includes a series of resources from prominent national collections, among them England, France, Germany and Italy.

This series includes secondary materials as well. The collection also includes materials covering the history of Eastern Europe, Non-Muslim Africa, as well as basic resources regarding the history and geography of different nations and countries.

The linguistics collection at the National Library contains materials and tools focusing on past and present European languages.

Classical Studies Collection

The National Library holds an authorized and updated collection of classical studies, including classical Greek and Latin literature and their translations into different languages in different publications. 
The collection includes research tools for the study of classical languages such as dictionaries, lexicons and Greek and Latin grammar learning materials. Major sections of the collection include epigraphy and a growing palaeography section. Also included within the collection are encyclopedias, journals and databases on classical studies including primary and secondary resources.