Tucked Away Treasure

What follows is the first significant article written about the Archive. It was published on September 5, 1991, in The Observer: The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Monterey, California.

Tucked Away Treasure

by Pat Hillyer

Tucked Away ImageThere is no way to imagine what lies ahead when you walk through the door of a nondescript house tucked snugly into the mountains around Boulder Creek. You have entered the world of Brent Walters, curator of the Archive. An invaluable collection of 10,000—yes, 10,000 treasured historical works on the first three centuries of Christianity, peek out from every nook and corner. A labyrinth of bookshelves from floor to ceiling wind through the rooms of the library, overflowing with ancient first editions, rare special collections, manuscripts of the fathers and New Testament, university dissertations and journals, texts from Gnostic and anti-heretical writers, and various translations of early Christian treatises.

There are sixty shelves of New Testament commentaries, more than one thousand histories, biographies, and patrologies, at least twenty sets of encyclopedias devoted to early church research, all completely catalogues, and a language and reference index that spans more than a thousand years of Greek and Jewish literary and cultural evolution. With all of that—and more—it’s easy to understand why Walters’ collection makes up the largest library in the country dedicated to the first three centuries of the church. And, as incredible as it may seem, he has investigated each and every volume. It’s taken twenty years for the young scholar, who is only thirty-five years old, to amass this priceless Archive, ferreting out much of it in Irish and English book stores.

The versatile Walters has also authored a book entitled The Didache, which is derived from an ancient work of the same name written in the earliest age of the church. It contains the teaching (the meaning of “Didache”) of the twelve apostles and includes two translations, complete with commentaries, and articles written by four of the most prominent names in church history. The Archive, and its accompanying projects, as well as the monumental research and study that has transpired, have all been borne solely by a determined Walters. By day, he worked and went to school, by night, he delved into the Archive.

He calls the period of time which his library covers—the first three hundred years of the church—“the most neglected period of Christian history” as far as the modern-day church is concerned. “There are hundreds of important writings from the fathers from this period, and, yet, we teach little about them,” he emphasized soundly. “Many people in the pews have little or no idea what’s available to them from the rich history of the church.” He strengthened his position, adding, “We have not fully investigated Christianity—we tell only a partial story. We need to evaluate how his message was received, and how the earliest Christians interpreted his sayings. This is one important function of the library.”

To read the complete, unedited article, click the image below.

Tucked Away Treasure