JACKSON, Tenn. – March 12, 2003 – Sponsored by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Christian Leadership and the R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, Union University hosted Carl Trueman, associate professor of church history and historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Wednesday, March 12.
Trueman spoke on the history of the Geneva Bible, a copy of which was recently donated to the Ryan Center by David and Linda Shoaf. It serves as the centerpiece of the Center's library.
First published in 1560, the Geneva Bible became the most popular English version of the 16th and 17th centuries. The work received its name from the city in which it was produced, and sold well enough to be reprinted in 180 editions. It is believed that Reformation leaders John Knox, Miles Coverdale and William Whittingham were involved in the preparation of the translation and its study notes.
According to Trueman, those notes are the secret to the Geneva Bible's popularity. "It provided them with explanations," he said. As the Reformation moved European believers away from dependency on clergy to provide scriptural interpretation toward a focus on the individual's relationship with God and the Bible, people wanted the help the notes provided.
Trueman said scriptures in the languages of the common people were very important to the Reformation because it was a movement about words. "God is a God who speaks," he said. "He reveals Himself primarily through speech."
Trueman warned of the danger in current movements that lead "away from a culture that exalts words and speech to a culture that exalts image and aesthetics." According to Trueman, "The need of the church today is for articulate people who understand the scriptures and are able to make them relevant to this day."
Trueman is the author of Luther's Legacy: Salvation and English Reformers, 1525-1556 and The Claims of Truth: John Owen's Trinitarian Theology. He is a graduate of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen.
After Trueman's presentation, the Center celebrated the acquisition of a 1615 edition of the Geneva Bible. The Center's library, located in Jennings Hall on Union's Jackson campus, houses quality reference tools including commentaries, language resources, encyclopedias and software and is available for use by students, pastors and Bible study leaders. The Center also sponsors conferences and events, including the upcoming "The Power and the Promise of the Word," April 3-5.
"Just as the Geneva Bible facilitated the spread of God's word to the common people 400 years ago, today Union's Center for Biblical Studies encourages the study and use of the Bible," explained Ray Van Neste, director of the R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies. "Many people do not use or really try to understand the Bible and our mission is to provide resources to the community for better understanding of the Scriptures."
For more information on the R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, its library or events, contact Ray Van Neste at (731) 661-5532.