As I was closing the Library last night, I happened to notice a book laying on one of the shelves in the Bound Periodicals section. Not a big deal I thought—someone probably just set it down while looking at an article and forgot about it. As I drew closer I noticed that it was a copy of Joüon & Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, and that it didn’t have a call number label on its spine—apparently someone’s personal copy. However, when I picked it up I started noticing some odd things about the book. Imagine a Library book where the barcode had been peeled off the back, the call number label had been cut out of the protective tape on the spine, and the ownership label had been removed from the front endsheet. That’s exactly what I was looking at. The call number was still written on the inside front cover and indicated that it was from the Reference section.
Was someone going to steal the book, but had a change of heart? Did someone “borrow” it for the semester and then return it? Who knows? You just don’t expect that sort of thing to happen around a seminary. Sure we have security gates, but they’re more to prevent people from accidentally walking out with books than to deter conscious theft. I was troubled and disturbed that someone in the Seminary community would do something like this.
However, the more I think about it, the less troubled I am. Around the Seminary, where everyone is so nice to everyone else (most of the time), it’s easy to begin believing at some level the illusion that we are good people. People out in the world may be sinful, but seminarians are righteous—or so it might seem. But that’s not the truth. Seminarians are sinners like everyone else. Although my particular struggle may not be the temptation to steal library books, I have my sins, and they are just as evil and ugly. Who am I to cast the first stone?
So, to whoever tried to make off with the Joüon-Muraoka, Christ forgives you, and so do I.