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T.F. Torrance Collection of Antiquarian Books

The T.F. Torrance Collection of Antiquarian Books forms part of a large collection of books from the library of Thomas F. Torrance. The collection was donated to Princeton Theological Seminary by his son, Iain R. Torrance, the sixth president of that institution. It reflects the wide theological, scientific and historical interests of T. F. Torrance, including over 400 rare and antiquarian volumes published before 1800 relating to the history of Christianity in Scotland. Many of those volumes are presented here in digital form.

The book collection accompanies and complements the Thomas F. Torrance Manuscript Collection, also housed at Princeton Theological Seminary. The collection consists of 230 boxes (110 linear feet) of archival materials, including published and unpublished writings, sermons, lecture notes, correspondence, subject files and photographs, as well as awards and honorary degrees, select audio recordings, datebooks, academic regalia, and other related ephemera and realia. Among the core topics in the collection are systematic theology, patristics, ecumenics, the sacraments, the relationship of theology and science, and Scottish church history. There is considerable material relating to the theological dialogue between the Orthodox churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches; on the work of the World Council of Churches; on the English translation of the Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth; on various committees and commissions of the Church of Scotland on which T.F. Torrance served as well as his term as Moderator of the General Assembly of that body; and on other organizations with which he was connected, including the John Templeton Foundation, the Center of Theological Inquiry, the Academie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses, the Scottish Journal of Theology, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In addition to the papers of Thomas F. Torrance, there are additional papers related to the Torrance family, most especially published and unpublished papers and correspondence of Thomas Torrance (1871-1959), father of T.F. Torrance and missionary in Sichuan, West China.

Thomas F. Torrance (1913-2007) was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, the second child and eldest son of missionaries Thomas and Annie E. Torrance. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Edinburgh and at Oxford, and with the theologian Karl Barth in Basel, Switzerland. During the academic year 1938-39 he lectured at Auburn Seminary in New York. He served as a military chaplain in the Middle East and with combat troops in Italy during the Second World War. Following the war, he served as a parish minister in the Church of Scotland. He became Professor of Church History at the University of Edinburgh in 1950 and from 1952 until 1979 he was Professor of Christian Dogmatics at that university. Among other positions, he served as a member of the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission, as the Convener of the Church of Scotland Commission on Baptism, and as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1976-77. In 1978 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. He served as co-editor of the Scottish Journal of Theology for 27 years.

Thomas F. Torrance was a frequent visitor to Princeton Theological Seminary, delivering the Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures in 1981. He served as an informal advisor to several of its presidents, and his youngest son, Iain R. Torrance, was installed as the sixth president of Princeton Theological Seminary in 2004, serving there until December 2012.

The material in the Thomas F. Torrance Collection was donated to Princeton Seminary in several installments, beginning in 1990. Additional material came in 1997 and the bulk of the collection came in 2006. Further archival material was donated by Iain Torrance. Unlike the collection of antiquarian books, the manuscript collection has not been digitized; however, an extensive guide to the collection is available online.

Kenneth Woodrow Henke
Curator of Special Collections and Archivist
Princeton Theological Seminary Library
April 13, 2015

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