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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Andrew Bing – not quite anonymous.

Doctor Andrew Bing (Byng) was born in 1574, and lived seventy-eight years.

Academic credentials

Andrew Bing was a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was appointed Regius Professor of Hebrew in Trinity College Cambridge in 1608. His predecessors were Edward Liveley (Director, First Cambridge company), Robert Spaulding (First Cambridge company) and Geoffrey King (First Westminster company).

Like its sister college, Christ Church, Oxford, Trinity takes pride in its aristocratic connections — it has generally been the academic institution of choice of the Royal Family (King Edward VII, King George VI, Prince Henry of Gloucester, Prince William of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Prince Charles were all undergraduates). Like Christ Church, the college has also been associated with Westminster School. The Master remains to this day an ex officio member of the school's governing body.

Trinity has educated six British prime ministers and several heads of other nations. Among the alumni are Isaac Newton and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Its members have won 32 Nobel Prizes. Though Andrew Bing’s life and career is not quite anonymous, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the highest academic standards were present when Henry VIII first founded the College in 1546. Another alumnus of Trinity is John Stott, who as a student was a gifted student in French and Theology.

Dr. John Stott.(1921 - 2011)

There was a lot more emphasis on the importance of language study in depth, in an age when the physical sciences had not yet developed their alluring claim on students’ time and energies.

Appointed to translate

Andrew Bing was a tall, smiling young man, and merely 30 years of age when King James I of England chose him to work on the Bible. (1) He served on the "First Cambridge Company" charged with translating parts of the Old Testament for the King James Version of the Bible. The chairman of this group was Edward Lively, father of thirteen children. Others in the same group as Andrew Bing were Laurence Chaderton, Francis Dillingham, Thomas Harrison, Roger Andrewes, (brother of Lancelot Andrewes), and Robert Spaulding. The books they translated were I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.

Not a great deal is known about this scholar, as is true of several of the names in a list of over 52 men who worked on the Translation. A study of these men’s careers enables the reader to build up a picture of their life-style and relationships:

[T]hey were bound together in a complex web of shared experience at both school and university and in a set of mutually reliant networks of clientship and patronage, by which leading members of the church promoted their favourites into well-rewarded positions of influence.” (2)

Other responsibilities

Dr. Bing was Sub-dean (deputy to the Dean) of York in 1606, responsible for running the York Minster Cathedral. Twelve years later, he was made Archdeacon of Norwich in 1618. “An archdeacon is often responsible for administration within an archdeaconry, which is the principal subdivision of the diocese. The office has often been described metaphorically as that of oculus episcopi, the bishop's eye.”

Andrew Bing outlived nearly all his fellow workers and died in 1652. By this time Oliver Cromwell was about to take the title of “Lord Protector” in running the Commonwealth after the execution of King Charles I.

(1) Paine, Gustavus S. (1977/1959) The men behind the King James Version, MI: Baker.
(2) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 251.

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