Notes on the Botany of the Bible by David Gordon Rose, Reference One, ISBN 978-1-912152-03-2 (paperback, mono interior), ISBN 978-1-912152-04-9 (e-book 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 exercise 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 eventually became entries in the exercise book. More were added to bring the total to 115 with about 137 plants discussed in total. The MS author was not a scholar, as there are spelling mistakes, inconsistencies in enumeration and other errors. He or she was, nevertheless, passionate about the Scriptures and knowledgeable on the geography and history of the Bible lands.
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 went out of business in about 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. Fundamental to David's new book is the list of 95 species and a further 111 Dr. Zophia Włodarczyk at the Agricultural University of Krakow suggests are prime subjects for future consideration. There is a link in the new publication to that 2007 paper.
Anyone interested in 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 greatly expanded the biblical references using more than 30 bible translations. He has also updated the scientific names of all plants cited including those from Dr. Włodarczyk's paper. These 206 likely species (95 plus 111) 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," 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 203 mm wide x 254 mm high (8 inches x 10 inches), 150 pages with 93 monochrome illustrations of botanical specimens. The complete original manuscript is reproduced at its original size at the end of this new publication Notes on the Botany of the Bible. The MS author's illustrations are incorporated throughout the new material with many more from J. H. Balfour's 1885 All the Plants of the Bible.