I had heard so much about the Tyndale House over the years I felt I had to experience it for myself. So, I stayed with my good friend David Nystrom who just started at Cambridge and studied at the Tyndale House with him for a couple of days. First of all, Cambridge as a city is much bigger than I imaged (and much bigger than Durham). The traffic in and out of the city can be very chaotic! But, I really enjoyed the walk to the TH.
The TH was actually much smaller than I had imagined, but that is not a bad thing. I rented a day desk (as a Tyndale Fellow I get 10 free days a year, I think) and was able to begin studying at 9am and finish at 5.30. Everyone on staff was warm and helpful. Everyday there are tea times where everyone in the library must go to have fellowship and stretch their legs. It was good to meet some students there, though at the time Cambridge’s term had ended and the TH was not as busy as normal.
I happened to be there on a Tuesday when they have chapel in the morning – about 10 of us gathered for a brief word from Scripture and an extended time of prayer. This was a great way to start the day!
The library itself was cozy. As expected, it was stocked full of great books for NT and OT study and very up-to-date on everything. What was especially helpful for me was the many copies of UK theses (not just from Cambridge) and one of them (from Sheffield from 1985) was of particular value for my research.
The staff itself was impressive. I briefly chatted with Pete Williams a couple of times and he is a friendly warden who, I think, was a great choice for the role at the TH. He is also an excellent scholar. I also had a couple of brief conversations with David Instone-Brewer – also nice, a truly a technological wiz!
As far as visiting scholars, Greg Beale (of Wheaton) was there working on some projects. It sounds like the PhD program at Wheaton is going well and the first round of graduates are out teaching now. He said the program at Wheaton is very good with only a few slots open per year because they want to offer their students financial packages. If I were to recommend a PhD program from an evangelical institution, this might be at the top of the list. But, all things being equal, I still would recommend the secular route (see my blog page on PhD info for details). In any case, Beale is a great guy – I was sad not to have him still at Gordon-Conwell when I was there.
All in all, I had fun at the TH, but I am not disappointed in the least bit that I am at Durham. The staff in NT at Durham right now is unparalleled. Durham’s library is pretty bad, but the theological college here (St.John’s) has a decent library as well as the cathedral – and googlebooks has been good to me (and Amazon!). The staff at TH is excellent, but we have the staff at Cranmer Hall (the anglican/wesleyan training centre). So, I hope to make it down to the TH a few times a year, but I am content in Durham.
Thank you Tyndale House staff for your vision and warmth. This library has been around for some time and has had some great thinkers make use of it (including my supervisor, John Barclay). I hope it continues on for many years (and decades; centuries?).
BTW – for those of you in the UK doing research, consider joining Tyndale Fellowship and attending the summer conferences. I sometimes read the collections of essays (published) that come out of the study groups and many of them are outstanding.