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A Treasure Field to be Explored and Exploited: PTS Latin American Periodical Collection

Dr. Luis N. Rivera-Pagán

By: Luis N. Rivera-Pagán


Last October, a friend died in Puerto Rico and I was asked to go home and preach a memorial homily to celebrate his life of commitment to the Reign of God. Drafting the sermon, I remembered that a small book, published 1965 in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, included a contribution of his on theological education in Latin America. I went to Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) library and, eureka! there was a copy of the book. It also happens to be the first book ever edited by Justo L. González.

Three years ago I had to write a lecture on Oscar Amulfo Romero, for Drew’s Hispanic theological program. I found then that PTS library has one of the best bibliographical collections on the martyr Archbishop. This year, I devoted my inaugural address as PTS Henry Winters Luce Professor of Ecumenics to the last writings of Bartolomé de las Casas. PTS library, as Gustavo Gutiérrez discovered when he was visiting professor several years ago, has excellent sources on the sixteenth-century Christianization of the Americas. Its periodical collection of Latin American ecclesiastical and theological matters is probably the best in the United States and certainly one of the best in the world. It includes journals one did not even know existed!

There are historical reasons for the wealth of this collection. As always in history, there are names to be remembered, administrators like John A. Mackay, PTS President from 1936 to 1959, who was fluent in Spanish, had traveled and worked for a good number of years in Latin America and Spain, and had written a dissertation on Unamuno; scholars like Richard Shaull, PTS Professor of Ecumenics from 1962 to 1980, fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and well known and respected through Latin America. Enrique Dussel has rightfully considered him one of the antecessors of Latin American liberation theology. They made the right decisions to make sure that PTS library would be home to a splendid Latin American bibliographical collection.

PTS library has shown its serious engagement to house and preserve a rich and diverse Latin American ecclesiastical and theological bibliographical collection. During the last years, under the influence of the growing U.S. Hispanic/Latino/a theologies and some of its institutional expressions, like the Hispanic Theological Initiative and the Hispanic Summer Program, the collection has expanded to include matters regarding the U.S. Hispanic/Latino/a churches. It houses, for example, the last doctoral dissertations written by Hispanic theologians.

Alas! This seems to be unbeknownst to many students, professors, researchers, and ministers with interest in the variegated field of Latin American and Hispanic/Latino/a religiosities. The good news is that it is there; the bad news is that it is there. It is a treasure field waiting to be explored and exploited. What is a library for? A paradisiacal labyrinth to lose one’s way and, in the process, find oneself, would be Jorge Luis Borges reply.

- Dr. Rivera-Pagán, HTI 2000–2001 mentor and the Henry Luce Professor of Ecumenics and Mission at Princeton Theological Seminary. Originally published in Journeys 3, no. 1, p. 6. Reproduced by permission from Luis N. Rivera-Pagán.

Bibliographic records for individual titles in the Latin American Periodical Collection appear in the Wright Library catalog and, when the exact title is known, can be searched using the Journal title field. To retrieve a list of all the titles in the collection, type Latin American Periodicals in the Author search.

A number of these materials have also been digitized and included in the Theological Commons, a digital library of materials on theology and religion, developed in partnership with the Internet Archive. Browse the Latin America Collection within the Theological Commons.

HTI 2000–2001 mentor and the Henry Luce Professor of Ecumenics and Mission Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary Luis N. Rivera-Pagán extols the Library's "serious engagement to house and preserve a rich and diverse Latin American ecclesiastical and theological bibliographical collection."