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This is the seventh in a sequence about ecumenical formation.
We do not fully appreciate the part libraries have played in the development of faiths. When we think of buildings in connection with faiths we think of churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and perhaps we go on to think of monasteries, convents and theological colleges.
It is easy to forget the role of libraries, although most religious communities had them. It might almost be true to say religious communities exist primarily to maintain their libraries.
This was particularly important before the invention of the printing press. The copying, maintenance and exchange of texts would require the full time attention of a community. And these communities were networked. If you wanted to do some research, you had to travel. Scholars would carry information between libraries.
So, we hear of Christian libraries, not only in Europe but for many centuries stretching deep into Asia and Africa.
Every synagogue is a Jewish library. If we examine a page from the Talmud, we find the central text, surrounded by several well known commentaries and often with a space for the scholar to add their own comments. (The illustration from the Talmud sadly doesn't seem to feature such a space.)
Islamic libraries which kept the light of scholarship shining during the European dark ages.
And there were Hindu and Buddhist libraries ...
These were not isolated - during the best of times there was a community of scholarship and scholars had access to each others texts. Perhaps we have not known similar access in modern times until the invention of the internet, although the growth of universities to some degree replaced religious libraries.
The point is, scholars were formed through exchange of information and this was the norm over hundreds if not thousands of years. The idea of one true faith hidden behind a wall to keep out scholars of other faiths would have been bizarre 1000 years ago.
It is sad to find in the modern world, where information is so easy to access, so many refuse to share with others.