The Bible And The Common Man -- By: James A. Blaisdell
BSac 62:248 (Oct 1905) p. 766
The Bible And The Common Man1
With what an imperial and universal completeness the Book of Books is subduing the world! Even language itself is only a servant of the Message. Through long centuries and vast ranges of toil a race slowly and painfully fashions its speech; and no sooner is the work accomplished than that speech becomes the vehicle of the Tidings. To the Gospel it issues only as a new access to the hearts of men. Then sometimes the Book, like a great strategist, turns back for a moment, after generations of apparent rule, to complete more absolutely its dominion over territory which it has held historically, and to subdue more wholly unto its service some local or class dialect which the passing years have produced within the bounds of the larger language. And so the Word has its way and moves onward to the day when it shall have found lodgment among all tribes and on all tongues.
It is with such appreciation of the deeper meanings that one opens the comely and convenient volume which completes the “Twentieth Century New Testament.” English has long been conquered territory to the Good News; or, to use another figure, it has long been a chosen vessel; it is half a millennium since the pioneer days of Wyclif, and the English Bible has
BSac 62:248 (Oct 1905) p. 767
had a mighty history. But there has been growing up a new language within the English language. The common man, coming gradually to his own, has been coining his new speech. Tyndale and Coverdale would hardly understand him, and he would not understand them, were it not for this same Bible, which has held the two distant and divergent ages from absolute separation. And now that this common man is coming to be the moving spirit in English and American civilization it becomes one of the notable missionary efforts of our day to reach his ear, and through his ear his heart, with such a phrasing of the gospel as shall be its own best interpretation. This is the significant enterprise to which a little company of English scholars set themselves some years ago. Both the effort and the result are deeply interesting to any man who keeps his ear to the deeper movements of Christianity.
Like many to whom the work itself has been the best reward, these workmen have chosen to be unnamed. This is characteristic of the greater biblical scholarship. How many of the makers of the Bible, from the apostolic day down, have wrought in that absolute lack of self-consciousness which is begotten of the greatness of the service! Through the long years which the task has occupied, these workers have kept themselves well in the back-ground, and their work well to the fore. It has been ge...
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