JACKSON, Tenn. – April 29, 2004 – The last surviving child of the late Dr. Charles B. Williams has commissioned and donated a portrait of her father to Union University, which will hang in the university’s R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies.
“Charles Williams was a very prominent person in Southern Baptist life," Dr. Ray Van Neste, assistant professor of Christian Studies and director of the Ryan Center, said.
Williams is best known for the Williams translation of the New Testament, first published in 1937 while he was serving as professor of Greek and ethics at Union. He is also noted as the founding Greek professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Union President David S. Dockery said, “Charles Williams was a highly visible New Testament Scholar in the early years of the 20th Century. His translation of the New Testament remains a favorite of many even today. His relationship to Union has been memorialized in a most special way with this wonderful gift from the family members to Union’s Ryan Center. The portrait serves as an inspiration for other young New Testament students to give of themselves for this generation in the same way that Dr. Williams did for his in the serious study of God’s inspired Word.”
Williams’ daughter, Charlotte Williams Sprawls of Montreat, N.C., has worked to keep her father’s New Testament translation in print. "It is appropriate that present-day and future Union students, as well as past graduates, should know of the importance of his translation for the past 65 years,” she said.
Van Neste expressed a common goal and vision with the work of Williams. "In the preface to his translation,” he said, “Dr. Williams stated that his aim was to help the common person to know and understand the Bible, which is exactly the aim of the Ryan center as we seek to encourage and enable sound biblical interpretation and application today. It is great to be reminded that we are not starting something new but are continuing a grand tradition here at Union."
Williams New Testament: In the Language of the People was reprinted in 2000 and is available from the Lifeway Bookstore on Union’s campus or from Sprawls’ Web site, http://www.sprawls.org/williams.
The Ryan Center's library is on the third floor of Jennings Hall and is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information contact Van Neste (731) 661-5532.