Number of Visitors to site

Your 'avatar' tells me you follow my blog

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Samuel Ward - Strength in meekness

Samuel Ward (1) was born 1572, (baptized 13th January, 1572) at Bishop Middleham, in the county of Durham. He was the son of John Ward, a man of ‘more ancientry than estate’ (BL, Harleian MS 7038, p. 355). Little more is known of his early days.

Student days

Ward studied at Cambridge, where he was at first a student of Christ’s College in 1589. His financial condition while a student was precarious: James Montagu and William Perkins helped him with his college debts. Ward suffered from a speech impediment that almost made him abandon divinity for its public speaking expectations, in favour of mathematics (Sidney Sussex College, MS 45, fols. 51, 46v). It was Perkins who persuaded him to stay with theology. He graduated BA in 1593. In 1595 he was elected to a fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and in the following year proceeded M.A. In 1599 he became a Fellow of the newly established Sidney Sussex College. He proceeded BD from Emmanuel in 1603 and DD from Sidney Sussex in 1610. Thus, Ward spent the first forty years of his life entirely focused on academic study.

Puritanical zeal

Ward is perhaps best remembered for his diary and sermon notebook, kept from 1592 to 1601. These, along with other notebooks collected in the Sidney Sussex archives, reveal that in his youth he was a vigorous and outspoken puritan, devoted to biblical studies and inclined to intense introspection and self-condemnation for even trivial sins.

On May 13, 1595, in his diary he castigates himself for "My desire of preferment overmuch." Often he addressed himself in the second person. Thus that same day he wrote "Thy wandering regard in the chapel at prayer time." May 17 "Thy gluttony the night before." May 23, "My sleeping without remembering my last thought, which should have been of God." May 26 "Thy dullness this day in hearing God's word . . . thy sin of pride . . . thy by-thoughts at prayer-time same evening." June 14 "My negligence. . . in sleeping immediately after dinner. . . . in hearing another sermon sluggishly.June 12 "My too much drinking after supper." June 22 "My immoderate diet of eating cheese." June 27 "My going to drink wine and that in the tavern before I called upon God." July 8 "My immoderate laughter in the hall." July 15th "My incontinent thoughts at Hobson's." (2)
Nicolson gives his own helpful insights into Ward's famous diary, citing many examples of the thought habits of a Puritan's world view. (3)

Presumably, we are wise to think that, by listing in a short space the sins of pride, impurity, sloth and greed, Ward thereby made himself more aware of a need for God's grace and for the "fruit of the Spirit" in his daily life - this in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. The result of such discipline meant he attained a godly name in maturity. Such concerns did not diminish with the passage of years:
. . . [H]is mature vernacular sermons show a continuity in his experimental spirituality, and his complaints about corruption and ‘novelties’ in the church and about popular irreligion continued throughout his life. . . . His actions . . all identify him with a puritan opposition and won him approbation . . . . Puritans regularly consulted him about matters of conscience, judging him ‘a man famous for learning and of high estimation … for his soundness of faith and integrity of conversation’, as Nicholas Estwick remarked in 1634. (Bodl. Oxf., MS Tanner 71, fols. 186–7)
At his death, forty eight years later, a funeral oration was given in Great St Mary's . . . and a sermon was preached by Ralph Brownrigg [which was] the most eloquent tribute to Ward's saintly life [and] his scholarship.
An ardent admirer of William Perkins and of Laurence Chaderton, he was like them much troubled by the introduction of popish ‘ceremonies’ into the Church of England, by clergy ‘too pontifical and papistical’, and generally by the ‘sins of the land’, especially ‘want of zeal’ and ‘coldness in our holy profession’ (Sidney Sussex College, Ward MS B, fols. 30v–31; MS 45, fol. 62v) . He was thus a natural choice for election to a fellowship of Emmanuel College . . and . . to the mastership of the newest puritan foundation, Sidney Sussex College, where he remained until his death. (4)
Sidney Sussex College was a Puritan institution and as Master, Ward welcomed Oliver Cromwell to the student body April 23rd, 1616, the same day William Shakespeare died (5). Ward showed a virulent anti-Catholicism when editing Perkins's work, and from 1610 to 1643 he actively prosecuted those who articulated ‘popish’ notions when delivering university sermons.

His scholarship and preaching

William Perkins arranged with him to posthumously publish his treatise in 1611, Problema de Romanae fidei ementito Catholicismo, Ward published it with a preface addressed to James I, to whom he was shortly afterwards appointed chaplain. A small collection of Ward's English sermons survive (Sidney Sussex College, Ward MS 0.8) which show that their concern with the state of the hearer's heart. His language aimed to stir the emotions. There are also Latin sermons more academic, which differ strongly from the tone and style of his vernacular preaching. They are more restrained, being argued with rigorous logic and narrowly focused on theological topics.

Theological Scholarship

Ward's principal commitments were always to his college, to biblical and theological scholarship, and especially to the maintenance of Calvinist orthodoxy. . . also he devoted attention to areas of scholarship rather new to early modern universities. [He was] highly regarded by the other college heads for meticulous scholarship and integrity of life. . . . The preponderance of both his writing and his use of time was always for theological ends.(4)

Whilst translating the KJV during this period (1604 - 1609) he established a relationship with Archbishop James Ussher, whom he assisted in his research of the early 'church fathers.' Says McClure, "his correspondence with Archbishop Usshur reveals traits of diversified learning, especially in biblical and oriental criticism."

Synod of Dort

As an outspoken Calvinist, Ward was chosen in 1618 to be one of the English delegates to the synod of Dort in Holland. Letters addressed to him there from various scholars survive. One participant, Simon Episcopius, found him the most learned member of the synod. (J. Hacket, Sermons, 1675, xxvi). According to McClure

The object of the Synod . . . was to settle the doctrinal disputes which . . had been very sharp between Calvinists, who adhered to the old national faith, and the followers of Arminius, who innovated . . The points in dispute related to divine predestination, the nature and extent of the atonement, the corruption of man, his conversion to God, and the perseverance of saints. These five points are explained in some sixty “canons,” which were “confirmed by the unanimous consent of all and each of the members of the whole Synod.” The Dordrechtan Canons are, perhaps, the most careful and exact statement of the Calvinist belief, in scientific form, that has ever been drawn up.
On his return, Dr. Ward resumed his duties as head of Sidney Sussex College, and became Vice-Chancellor of the University. In the same year, he was made Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, which office he held for over twenty years.

A Bible Translator

Ward was a member of the second Cambridge company, charged with translating the Apocrypha. At age twenty-seven he was the youngest of all the translators and a chaplain to the King. After the KJV was published in 1611, some printing errors brought about a reprint under Charles I, in 1638. This was a Cambridge edition revised by Samuel Ward and John Bois, two of the original Translators who still survived, and assisted by other learned men. At the Synod of Dort (1618) Ward explained the procedure and rationale for the KJV. He says each of the six companies provided two revisers for the final revision, making twelve in all. By the time Miles Smith and Thomas Bilson 'put the finishing touches to the whole,' 'all things had been maturely weighed and examined.' (5) The overall aim of the project was explained

Caution was given that an entirely new version was not to be furnished, but an old version, long received by the Church, to be purged from all blemishes and faults.(5)

If today's critical text is accurate, they must have miserably failed in their objective!

Why translate the Apocrypha?

Just as today we purchase Study Bibles containing extensive notes and comments, so the Apocrypha was commonly included for reference purposes in Reformation Bibles, and in many languages, until the 19th century. There were good reasons, however, for excluding them as time went on.

First, Old Testament Jewish scribes never acknowledged the Apocryphal books as sacred Scripture. When Jesus appealed to the Law, the Prophets and Psalms (Luke 24: 44), he was acknowledging a settled canon of Old Testament Scripture, which did not include these books. Little wonder, since not one of them was written in Hebrew - and Greek was not accepted as a valid medium of inspiration in Jewry. Neither do these books anywhere - explicitly or implictly - claim to be inspired. It is thus entirely consistent that the Church excluded them from the pages of Scripture during the first four centuries. They contain some fictional narrative and statements which contradict both the canonical Scriptures, as well as their own statements in other places. Where and how did Antiochus Epiphanes die, for example? In the two Books of Maccabees, three options are possible, and are given in as many places. Prayers for the dead and the possibility of sinless perfection are taught, yet both of these are at variance with Biblical teaching. Immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination, and magical incantation, are described, in an apparently approving way.

Knowing of these shortcomings, it was still thought wise to include some record of the centuries intervening between the two Testaments. For example, 1 Maccabees is a valuable and mostly accurate record worth of study. Thus, the apocryphal books were included in the original King James Version as a matter of course, as they were in all previous versions from Wycliffe (c. 1384) onwards. This includes the Calvinistic Geneva Bible of 1560. Not until the 1640 edition of the Geneva Bible is there mention of deliberate omission of the Apocrypha. Nevertheless, from the Biblical viewpoint, Samuel Ward's scholarship was not thereby 'wasted' on the Apocrypha. The entire body of scholars employed on the KJV translation were called on to evaluate and repeatedly revise the canonical books, as the translation process proceeded.

End of days

Samuel Ward was an upholder of the divine right of Kings, Consequently, when the English civil war broke out, Ward supported the cause of Charles 1st and, with his authority as the Vice-Chancellor of the University, sent the college-plate to be coined for the King’s use. Parliament in response deprived him of his professorship and mastership, and confiscated his goods. Also in 1642, along with three other heads of colleges involved in the same transaction, he was imprisoned in St. John’s College for a short time. During this confinement, he became fatally ill and died in 1643. Some Latin verses addressed to him by Dr. Thomas Goad show the high esteem he won. Rendered at the close in English, it suggests a strong forceful character, with a meek and quiet spirit expressed in a turbulent age:
None thy quick sight, grave judgment, can beguile,
So skilled in tongues, so sinewy in style;
Add to all these that peaceful soul of thine,
Meek, modest, which all brawlings doth decline.(4)

(1) The scholar is not to be confused with Samuel Ward (minister)
(2) Payne, Gustavus, (1959/1977)The men behind the King James version, MI: Bakerpp. 62 - 63
(3) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. pp. 125-128
(4) Todd, Margo. (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(5) Bobrick, Benson. (2001) The Making of the English Bible Lon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p. 238, 258

This is 25/52.
previous next index

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dr John Aglionby - an aquiline acumen

Early days

Dr. John Aglionby was born about 1566 to Edward Aglionby and Elizabeth Musgrave, of Crookdayke. He descended from a respectable ancient family in Cumberland with the name De Aguilon - thereafter corrupted into Aglionby. Further details of his upbringing seem lost in obscurity.

Career path

Queen's College, Oxford

In 1583, he became a student in Queen’s College, Oxford, and was made a Fellow there. After 'taking orders', he became known as an eloquent preacher, and travelled in foreign countries. He travelled abroad, and formed an acquaintance with Cardinal Bellarmine

On his return, Aglionby was made chaplain in ordinary to Queen Elizabeth. This was itself a compliment, as Elizabeth was herself highly educated and an accomplished linguist, who endured no drone or dunce in attendance on her. He took his degree of D.D. in 1600. The next year, 1601, he was made Rector of Blechindon, and was also appointed Principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University. About the same time, he became Rector of Islip. On the accession of James I., he continued to serve the spiritual needs of the Monarch, being appointed chaplain in ordinary to the new King. Punning on his name, his peers compared him to an eagle--"He was of aquiline acumen."

When Oxford received its new King in 1601, Aglionby was a protagonist in a debate held before the King, on the entertaining thesis: 'The saints and angels know the thoughts of men's hearts.' Against him were three other translators: Drs Holland, Giles Thomson and John Harding. The moderator was either Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester- another translator - or George Abbot, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University. The outcome of the debate is unknown.

Academic reputation

Dr. Aglionby was deeply read in the church fathers and the scholastic tradition of the middle ages. He was “an excellent linguist,” and an elegant and instructive preacher. Anthony Wood says of him in his Athanae:
What he hath published I find not; however, the reason why I set him down here is, that he had a most considerable hand in the Translation of the New Testament, appointed by King James I., in 1604.”

Aglionby may have been appointed in 1604 as a replacement for Richard Eedes, who died that same year. He became a member of the second Oxford group of translators, who worked on the Gospels, the Acts and the Apocalypse.

End of days

Dr. Aglionby died at his rectory, on the sixth day of February, 1609, aged forty-three. In the chancel of his church at Islip, is a tablet erected to his memory by his widow. He died in the prime of life, just as the Bible was in the press. Says Alexander McClure, "Thus he lived just long enough to do the best work he could have done in this world."

This is 24/52 Previous Next Index

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Edward Lively - a devoted Hebraist

Edward Lively was born into poverty about 1545, and never quite got out of it. He was pursued by his creditors to the end of his days:

On one occasion, he returned home from a lecture attended by the queen to find all his goods impounded against payment of debts. . . . As the father of thirteen children, he could never get ahead of his bills. Ultimately he had to sell his large library 'for a pittance' to a covetous bishop, and from time to time found himself obliged to pawn other goods. 'My life,' he once said in a despondent mood, 'is nothing but a continual Flood of waters. After his wife died, he was completely overwhelmed,(1)

The scholar "took sick with an ague and a quinsy (2)," and died in four days; he was buried at St Edward's Cambridge, May 7th 1605. He was about sixty years old.

Training and Education

Lively was a scholar and later fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Trinity College, Cambridge.

By his mid-20's in 1569 he had graduated; three years later he was awarded an MA. Continuing on with Hebrew studies he was taught by the reputed Oriental scholar John Drusius, a visiting Professor from Franeker, Belgium. Drusius had become an English fellow at Oxford to promote the study of Semitic languages in sixteenth-century England. Such was his fame as a Jewish scholar on the continent, that Drusius' Hebrew classes were frequented there by students from all the Protestant countries in Europe. He was highly skilled in both Hebrew and Jewish antiquities.

Lively was Regius Professor of Hebrew from 1575 to 1605. His published works include Latin expositions of some of the minor prophets, as well as a work on the chronology of Persian monarchs.

Ecclesiastical life

In 1602 Edward Lively received a prebend at Peterborough, and in 1604 he took a living in Purleigh. Only seven months after this he died.

Though he left eleven orphans without means of support, they survived and did well, and there are descendants of Edward Liveley living in the United States today.(3)

Scholarly pursuits

Lively's scholarship (was) exceptional for the age in which he lived. Classical learning, in which he himself was steeped, is recommended to all those aspiring to understand scripture. He stresses the contribution made by such non-Christian writers as Pliny, Horace, Homer, and Herodotus, to the understanding of the Bible: ‘For many parts of Scripture they are diligently to be sought unto, and not as some rash brains imagine, to be cast away as unprofitable in the Lord's schoolhouse; but especially for Daniel above all’ (A True Chronologie, 22). . . [I]n Lively's opinion these ‘profane writers’ were important sources for the illumination of the word of God.(4)

Lively's approach to translation blended three distinct sources in expounding the text: classical learning, the church fathers and post-biblical Jewish exegetes and historians. This is illustrated in two books he authored. The first was on five of the minor prophets in 1587, whilst the second was a commentary on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9: 24–27. The latter shows Lively's breadth of scholarship and of his attitude towards the Hebraic tradition of exegesis. His approach was to give a just account of the times as well as a true interpretation of the original.

Daniel's faint smile
Santiago de Compestela

If the commentator fails in either of these, ‘there is no hope to know what Daniel meant by his weeks’ (A True Chronologie, 27). In his search for the true interpretation he has constant recourse to the ‘judgment of cunning linguists and sound divines’ (ibid., 44). The result is that the comments of classical authors, church fathers, and Jewish exegetes are harnessed to the task of biblical interpretation. (4)

Dr Edward Pusey commended Lively as one of "the greatest of our Hebraists." Pusey himself had studied Oriental languages at Gottingen Germany and was Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford for half a century

Dr Edward Pusey.

Preparation for the KJV translation

According to McClure

He [Lively] was actively employed in the preliminary arrangements for the Translation, and appears to have stood high in the confidence of the King. Much dependence was placed on his surpassing skill in the oriental tongues. But his death, which took place in May, 1605, disappointed all such expectations; and is said to have considerably retarded the commencement of the work. Some say that his death was hastened by his too close attention to the necessary preliminaries. His stipend had been but small . . .

Edward Lively was appointed leader of the first Cambridge group. The team were commissioned to translate from 2 Chronicles to Song of Songs. His premature death after only a few months of translation work compelled Laurence Chadertonto fill the gap left by his passing.

Final commendation

Illuminated Hebrew script

In the course of a distinguished career Lively proved to be a competent teacher and an able scholar. The letters which passed between James Ussher, later archbishop of Armagh, and his friends early in the seventeenth century testify to the respect in which he was held as a Hebraist by biblical scholars of his own day. His funeral oration, delivered by Thomas Playfere, Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge, demonstrates how successfully he had communicated his love of Semitics, and in particular his interest in and appreciation of rabbinic literature, to his contemporaries. (4)

Playfere shows the esteem in which the knowledge of Hebrew was held, when he says:

[The Hebrew tongue] ought to be preferred above all the rest. For it is the ancientest, the shortest, the plainest of all . . . [T]herefore . . unless he can understand handsomely well the Hebrew text, he is counted but a maimed, or as it were half a divine, especially in this learned age. (1.57) (4)

(1) Bobrick, Benson. (2001) The Making of the English Bible Lon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p. 232
(2) Quinsy - an abscess in the tissue around a tonsil usually resulting from bacterial infection and often accompanied by pain and fever.
(3) Paine, Gustavus. (1959/1977)The men behind the King James version, MI: Baker p. 74
(4) G. Lloyd Jones. (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This is 23/52 previous next index