Notes on the Botany of the Bible by David Gordon Rose, ISBN 978-1-912152-03-2 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-912152-04-9 (.mobi/Kindle print replica)
David was staying with friends in Charente-Maritime in France when he came across an old exercise book and hand-stitched envelope containing 34 drawings in their library. In the book is a well-researched treatise titled Notes on the Botany of the Bible. It is an adult's hand but the author does not put his or her name or date to it. From the utility binding of the book and age of the blank postcards (printed in green) on which the author penned the botanical drawings, it was probably compiled in the 1920s.. On the address sides of the post cards are the first notes that were copied into the exercise book as formal entries. More were added to bring the total to 115 with about 137 plants discussed.
The manuscript was bought in auction about thirty years ago in Doncaster near Sheffield in the North of England. A sticker for two shillings inside the exercise book for a Sheffield bookshop is the only other clue that this could be the area where the work was compiled. The bookshop E. Weston & Sons probably went out of business in 1962 when their area of the city was redeveloped.
The manuscript author's efforts are admirable in including almost all of the 95 bona fide plant species that scholars in recent decades have agreed upon as those referred to in biblical texts. There is a link in the publication to a 2007 paper of Dr. Zophia Włodarczyk's at the Agricultural University of Krakow, Poland. Fundamental to the book is the list of 95 species and a further 111 Dr. Włodarczyk suggests are prime subjects for future consideration.
Anyone new to the subject of plants of the Bible and associated planting of Bible gardens, should be captivated by this paperback (and facsimile e-book), a publication which is surely unique because it is set around a hand-written treatise. David has expanded the biblical references from more than 30 bible translations and updated the scientific names of the plant species cited in the textbook and in Dr. Włodarczyk's paper. These 206 likely species are the starting point for the reader and should stimulate further reading through Wikipedia, on-line bibles, research papers (especially medical) and other books on the subject. One cannot fail to admire also the efforts of someone long ago whose manuscript was almost destined to fall to dust.
"With the briefest description and usage, clarification of plant species, cross-referencing, updating of the botanical nomenclature, plant indexes by common and scientific name, expanded biblical references and a general subject index covering the facsimile pages and notes," David writes in his Introduction to Notes on the Botany of the Bible, "my addition to the original material ends since it is not the purpose of this publication to write a new work."
The paperback is 254 mm high x 203 mm wide (10 x 8 inches), 150 pages with 93 monochrome illustrations of botanical specimens. The pages of the original manuscript are reproduced in mono at their original size and David's notes on the Notes inserted every four double pages. The illustrations are placed within these notes and are a combination of the unknown author's original drawings and many from J. H. Balfour's 1885 All the Plants of the Bible.