"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 9, Number 4, April 2006

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”

Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]

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100 Consecutive Issues of As I See It

 

Since we first launched out into the deep with our first issue in January 1998,--eight years and four months ago--we have published 100 consecutive monthly issues, counting this one.  Our target mailing date is the first of the month.  We have been as late as the 15th (due to a trip to Romania) but also as much as 5 days early.  We haven’t missed producing a single issue, in spite of some 25 trips to Romania and other points in Eastern Europe, a change of residence, 2 or 3 computer melts downs, and the other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that flesh is heir to.  And our subscriber base has grown slowly but steadily since the first issue.

 

When we started, we had no certain knowledge of how our efforts would be received, or how long we would continue.  The response has been generally favorable and sometimes highly gratifying, though there is the occasional irate letter from someone who prays for buzzards to eat our liver.  Many have written to express appreciation for our efforts to inform and enlighten.  It is such expressions that chiefly keep us at the task.

 

While the internet and e-mail have their downside, they have made the writing, or rather, distribution of As I See It a viable reality.  To operate a print monthly subscription magazine is a very complicated matter.  Securing and maintaining paying subscribers (or generous donors) is a continuing headache, as you constantly hemorrhage subscribers, get returns from invalid addresses, deal with printer’s delays and deadlines, face rising postage and printing costs, and encounter a litany of other anxiety-generating matters. 

 

On the other hand, an electronic journal such as As I See It can be mailed as cheaply and nearly as easily to 6,000 as to 600 or even 60 (I wish we had 6,000 subscribers!).  No postage, no permits, no printing costs.  And deadlines are more flexible--a busy printer has to schedule when he will print what, and if you miss a regular deadline, you might be days late in getting your publication out.  And with the USPS, a bulk mailing may sit for days even weeks awaiting distribution.  Handling subscriptions for an e-zine is as simple as adding (“copy and paste”) or deleting a name from a computer address book.  The whole production could be--and in our case is--a one-man operation.

 

Beyond the production nuts and bolts of it, some folks might suppose that cranking out a dozen pages of copy each month is no big chore.  We imagine that for some writers, who care little about accuracy, thoroughness, freshness and relevance, that indeed may be the case.  Some contemporary Christian authors grind out the drivel in remarkably large quantities--and have publishers ready to put in print their every dreary, stale or ill-considered utterance, but it is such fare as few thoughtful readers will wish to read regularly.

 

Our aim with As I See It has been far different.  For us, writing is simple--sit at the desk, turn on the computer, and open an artery.  It is a labor of love, but still very much a labor, to address the issues of the hour and issues of eternity.  Sometimes many hours of research will precede the writing of a single paragraph or two.  Accuracy in information, accuracy in documentation, accuracy in statement require incessant attention to detail, which can be and often is mentally and physically exhausting.  I feel a heavy and solemn responsibility to the reader to get my facts straight, and mislead no one, wittingly or unwittingly.  Most of what we write we hope has more permanence than today’s newspaper stories.  And from time to time, when we re-read an article in the archives that someone has written to request, we are not disappointed on how our stuff holds up over time.

 

I (and the “we’s” in this article are all editorial “we’s”--I have no assistant of any sort) have drawn personal (though by no means financial) benefit from producing As I See It. The Damascus blade of yet another dead-line for As I See It has often compelled me to read, to research, to study beyond what I normally would have done, and I (and I hope the readers as well) have benefited from things I learned about topics that would not have otherwise have been explored, or not explored to such an extent.  Study done only to satisfy your own mind eventually loses its strong motivating power; study done to share with others something of interest or pressing importance you have just discovered, that is another matter altogether.  I find this same truth operative in Bible study.  To read or study out a Biblical passage or doctrine or subject merely to inform myself about it does not drive me on nearly as much as preparing a Bible study, a sermon, a research paper on some controversial point which will be presented to others.

 

As long as we think we have something worthwhile to say, and interested readers to whom to say it, we shall with God’s help continue the monthly publication of As I See It.

---Doug Kutilek

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Hebrew New Testament Translations:

A Comprehensive History--Part II

by Doug Kutilek

 

London Jews’ Society Editions

 

Among the numerous missionary societies that were formed in England in the last decade of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th was “The London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews,” also and better known as “The London Jews’ Society” (L. J. S.), which was founded in 1808 or 1809 (sources vary on the date.  See DM, p. 724; for a brief account of this organization, see “Jews, Missions to,” by F. Heman, in SHERK, vol. VI, pp. 178-9). 

 

Naturally enough, to achieve the aims of this society, a Hebrew translation of the NT was very much desired.  The Caddick edition (1798) of Hutter’s Hebrew NT was deemed unacceptable.  Horne notes,

 

This translation not being executed in pure biblical Hebrew, and consequently not adapted to the Jews, the London Society for promoting Christianity among them, in 1817, completed and published a new translation in biblical Hebrew.  The Gospel of Saint Matthew was published in 1814 [sic], and the succeeding books at different times, as they could be completed (p. 106).

 

The work of producing this Hebrew version of the NT for the L. J. S. was undertaken by T. Fry (or Frey) and G. B. Collyer and others, using Hutter’s version as a base, but employing only Biblical Hebrew words, and conforming OT quotations to the Greek text.  Parts of this version appeared over a period of several years (Matthew, 1813; Mark, 1815; Luke-Acts 1816; Romans-Revelation, 1817), with the whole NT in 1817 (DM, p. 724; Pick, p. 534, gives 1816 as the year the project began and 1818 as the year of completion).  This edition was often reprinted (including in 1821) and widely distributed by the British and Foreign Bible Society (DM, p. 725)

 

In actual use, this version generated some strong criticisms of the rendering in various passages, and as a result, expert advice on improvement was obtained from such notable Hebraists as Wilhelm Gesenius and Joachim Neumann (Pick, p. 534).  Though no edition incorporating their suggestions was immediately forthcoming, in 1831 London publisher Bagster issued a revised version, with vowel points, by William Greenfield, editorial superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, which did make use of the suggestions for improvement received by the L. J. S.  This edition was often reprinted, including 1836 and 1848 (DM, p. 727; Horne, p. 107; Pick, 535).  The express mention here of the inclusion of the Hebrew vowel points raises the question of whether any or all previous Hebrew NT versions were consonantal texts only.  Without examining those editions directly, we cannot answer that question.

 

Even thus corrected and improved, the translation remained inadequate.  A committee composed A. McCaul (or M’Caul), M.S. Alexander, J. C. Reichardt and S. Hoga was appointed, which carried through a revision between November 1836 and February 1838, consulting Bible versions in Latin, German, Dutch, French, but especially Syriac (an excellent practice, since, as a sister language to Hebrew, the Syriac would often give a good pattern to follow in vocabulary, idiom, and syntax).  Quotations from the OT were made to conform to the Hebrew, rather than the Greek.  This revision was published in 1838, and while deemed a great advance on earlier editions, was still susceptible to improvement (DM, p. 728; Pick, p. 535).

 

At the request of the British and Foreign Bible Society (B&FBS) a further revision of the L. J. S. version was entrusted to J. C. Reichardt and J. H. R. Biesenthal in 1860, according to DM (Pick says 1856; for some account of the life and labors of Biesenthal, see Jacob Gartenhaus, Famous Hebrew Christians, pp. 45-48).  Matthew appeared in 1863, the four Gospels and Acts in 1864, and the whole NT complete with vowels and accents, and conformed to the Textus Receptus, in 1866 (DM, p. 731; Pick, p. 535).  This version was apparently reprinted in 1873, with the Epistle to the Hebrews being issued separately as well that same year (DM, p. 733)

 

The Delitzsch Version

 

Pick informs us of the inadequacy of the 1866 B&FBS Hebrew version, and thereby explains the origin of the famous Delitzsch version:

 

But this edition, in spite of the great labor bestowed and the money spent upon it, proved itself not to be the complete desideratum, especially in view of the criticism concerning the text as well as the accents, which professor [Franz] Delitzsch published in his Hebrew edition of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  Considerations like these, especially the desire of realizing a hope cherished for about forty years, induced professor Delitzsch to undertake a new version of the New Test[ament], on the basis of Codex Sinaiticus.  This edition was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1877.  In 1878, professor Delitzsch published a second edition of this translation, taking for his basis the Textus Receptus of the Elzevir edition of 1624, respecting the exigencies of textual criticism in all the more important cases by bracketed readings. . . . This edition also sold rapidly, and the third edition, again revised, appeared in 1880, with a slightly larger page and type.  A fourth edition was published in 1881, and so also a fifth in 1883.  It should be observed that during all this time the translator had the constant help of many learned friends, especially of Dr. J. H. R. Biesenthal, who had traversed the same ground himself, and of the author of the work on Hebrew tenses, Rev. S. R. Driver of Oxford. (pp. 535-536)

 

Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890) was a learned Lutheran professor, Hebraist and noted Old Testament commentator, and, according to some sources, of Jewish parentage (though this is expressly denied by others).  His lively interest in the conversion of the Jews to Christianity was the chief motivational factor in his making a Hebrew NT translation (SHERK, vol. III, pp. 397, 398).  His efforts at translating the NT into Hebrew began in 1864, with Romans published in 1870.

 

DM list the various editions of Delitzsch’ complete NT Hebrew version as follows (all being printed in Germany either at Leipzig or Berlin)--

 

1877, first edition, based on Greek manuscript Aleph, corrected from manuscript B.

 

1878, second edition, conformed, at the request of the British and Foreign Bible Society, to the textus receptus.

 

1880, third edition, revised from earlier editions with the help of S. R. Driver.

 

1882, fourth edition.  Hebrews also issued separately the same year.

 

1883, fifth edition, again revised.

 

1885, sixth edition, reprinted from plates of fourth edition.

 

1886, seventh edition, reprinted from plates of fifth edition.

 

1885, so-called eighth edition (which actually appeared before the seventh edition), text taken from the fifth edition.

 

1888, ninth edition, a reprint with twelve corrections.

 

1889, tenth edition, being a reprint of the ninth.

 

1891, a further reprint of the ninth edition.

 

1892, a final revision by Delitzsch, completed by Gustaf Dalman, with assistance from Isaac Cohn (Kahan). 

 

1899, reprint of 1892 eleventh edition. (DM, pp. 733, 734, 735, 736; Dalman)

 

As of 1892, the British and Foreign Bible Society had issued 49,230 copies of Delitzsch’s Hebrew NT (DM, p. 736)

 

The Salkinson-Ginsburg Version

 

While the British and Foreign Bible Society was sponsoring the Delitzsch version in its various editions and printings, the rival Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) also had its own Hebrew NT project.  The translator of the TBS-published version was Isaac Salkinson (1820-1883), a Lithuanian Jew who found the Messiah when studying in England.  The first time he read the NT was in a Hebrew translation (likely one of the L. J. S. editions), which he even then recognized as not always idiomatic in its rendering.  Salkinson had considerable experience in translating English (and other) literature into Hebrew, including Milton’s Paradise Lost and some of Shakespeare’s plays, before undertaking the translation of the NT into Hebrew (for some account of Salkinson’s life, see Bernard Pick, “Salkinson, Isaac E.” in CBTEL, vol. XII, p. 812; and Jacob Gartenhaus, Famous Hebrew Christians, pp. 159-163).

 

Salkinson had years before translated Romans from Greek into Hebrew (published 1855 in Edinburgh; DM p. 730) before completing his Hebrew NT version in the 1880s.  The immediate impetus behind the TBS publishing Salkinson’s version was the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, begun in 1876, whose director John Wilkinson introduced Salkinson to the head of the Trinitarian Bible Society, E. W. Bullinger.  The TBS had frequently given grants to the Mildmay Mission for the distribution of the Scriptures among the Jews, and decided to undertake publishing this new Hebrew version of the NT to that same end (Andrew J. Brown, The Word of God Among All Nations: A Brief History of the Trinitarian Bible Society, 1831-1981, p. 78).

 

Salkinson died before the printing had progressed beyond the first few pages of Matthew.  Seeing the translation through the press was entrusted to noted Hebraist Christian David Ginsburg (who, like Salkinson, was a Hebrew Christian; Brown, p. 78).  The first printing of 2,000 copies (1885) sold out in one month, and a second, revised edition of 110,000 copies (1886), was exhausted in 3 years.  By 1901, some 279,000 copies in five editions had been circulated, chiefly through the Mildmay Mission (Brown, p. 79; DM 735)

 

The Salkinson version was frequently published in bilingual editions in the 20th century: Hebrew-French; Hebrew-Spanish; Hebrew-Dutch; Hebrew-Portuguese; Hebrew-Arabic; and Hebrew-Russian among them (Brown, pp. 103, 130).  My own copy is Hebrew-English.

 

Though a much experienced translator of works from English into Hebrew, Salkinson nevertheless failed to produce a reliable version.  Pick declares, “The translation has been made in ‘classical Hebrew idiom,’ but ‘in seeking for elegance of language, exegetical and historical correctness, which are always connected with correctness of language, has been lost.’ “  Pick directs the reader’s attention to Theologisches Literaturblatt (Leipsic, 1885), nos. 45, 46, and 47, where no doubt an extended review was published (CBTEL, vol. XII, p. 812).  My own opinion in reading both the Delitzsch and Salkinson versions is that Delitzsch is usually literal and closely follows the Greek, while Salkinson is often loose and takes considerable liberties with the text.  I very much prefer Delitzsch (though I am persuaded that Salkinson’s base text was superior to that imposed on Delitzsch by the BFBS).

 

It is notable that the Greek text followed in the Salkinson-Ginsburg version was closely akin to that edited by S. P. Tregelles (Brown, p. 84), a text issued between 1857 and 1879 (all but Revelation appeared before the editor’s death in 1875), and is very much akin to the revised texts of Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort, though prepared independently of these other editors.

 

It is ironic that the British and Foreign Bible Society, which ultimately abandoned the textus receptus for revised Greek texts, compelled Delitzsch to revise his Hebrew NT version, originally based on the Sinaitic manuscript (one of the chief witnesses to the Alexandrian text) toward a close conformity to the textus receptus, while the Trinitarian Bible Society, which in the 1960s and later regressed to a rigid “textus receptus only” point of view (and de facto King James Onlyism, as well), promoted and published, even as late as 1966, a Hebrew version that in essence presented the Alexandrian text! (Brown, p. 118, n. 1)

 

[The final article in this series, Hebrew New Testament Translations: A Comprehensive History, Part III, along with a complete bibliography, will appear in the next issue of As I See It]

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, by Simon Winchester.  New York: HarperCollins, 2005.  462 pp., hardback.  $27.95.

 

On April 18, 1906 (a century ago the middle of this month), the most famous but by no means the largest earthquake in American history struck the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California and besides destroying thousands of buildings and killing hundreds of people, permanently altered the destiny of what promised to be the largest and most prosperous city on America’s western coastline.

 

The author, trained as a geologist in the 1960s, discusses the theory of plate tectonics, i.e., that the crust of the earth is composed of numerous independent land masses floating atop the molten mass below, that they move and collide, grow and diminish, and such matters as super-continents in the eons past, Pangaea, and other such highly speculative and very dubious reconstructions.  Plate tectonics was popularized in the 1960s and is all but universally accepted today, including by young earth creationists (though with obviously different time frames posited, and a rejection of much of the fanciful reconstructions proposed).  We are riding atop the North American plate, which extends from Iceland and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, to the West Coast of the U.S., as it inches westward.  Where this plate collides with other plates--especially the Pacific plate,--there is frequent repeated geologic activity: earthquakes and volcanoes in particular.  And it was the sudden release of built-up pressure and strain in 1906 along this collision zone--the famous San Andreas Fault--that resulted in the San Francisco earthquake.

 

Before he gets to the specifics of the 1906 quake (which make up only a fraction of the book; it is actually a general treatment of the North American plate, of which the San Francisco quake is but a part of the story), Winchester traces the North American plate from Iceland, where it starts (and new material is coming to the surface), through various quake zones--Charleston, South Carolina (1886) and New Madrid, Missouri (three massive quakes 1811, 1812--strange so far from the active edge of the plate) to California where the plate is most active (in one California town, earthquake tremors average one every 2 hours!

 

The author traces the rise and development of San Francisco in the centuries before the quake, especially the massive growth triggered by the 1849 gold rush.  The effects of the quake are described-- about 600 killed, $500 million (in 1906 dollars) property damage (about half covered by insurance), 95 % of buildings damaged or destroyed, 200,000 made homeless, in large part due to the 3-day fire that followed the quake (comparisons with the New Orleans hurricane of 2005 came to mind while I read).  The U. S. military responded quickly, and the mayor acted with dispatch to take control of the situation (this latter in stark contrast to the mayor of New Orleans); orders were given to shoot any looters on the spot.

 

The book, no doubt written to coincide with the “Big One’s” centennial, is marred by numerous factual errors (besides the usual and pervasive old earth evolutionary assumptions and time frames, and some goofy suggestions favoring the pagan notion of Gaia, the earth goddess) which a careful writer or a good editor would have caught.  On the map inside the front cover, Charleston, South Carolina is relocated from the coast and placed hundred of miles to the north in southern Virginia.  During the Spanish period (pre-1848), native Indians are said in one incident to hide in a eucalyptus thicket (p. 33); the problem is that eucalyptus trees are not native to California, but all are imports from Australia, and there would have been none there in 1806.  Winchester declares (p. 58) that the earth is much bigger than the other close in planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars).  In fact, the earth and Venus are very close to the same size and mass.  Winchester says (pp. 64; 163) the North American Plate stretches 6,000 miles from Iceland to the California coast; the distance is actually just a bit over 5,000 miles.  (One unwitting example illustrating the insuperable problems with evolutionary dating methods is that the oldest posited continent, designated “Ur” and said to have originated 3 billion years ago, is “younger” than rocks in Greenland and Hudson’s Bay that are reportedly 3.5 and 3.85 billion years old--existing before there were any continents to exist on! p. 79).  The author blunders in saying that Ur in Southeast Mesopotamia was the capital of the Chaldees, when in fact it was a major city of the Sumerians.  In a footnote (p. 95), the Charleston earthquake is mis-dated to 1866 (rather than 1886).  The area of Alaska is misstated as 600,000 acres instead of square miles--and it is actually 570,000-plus square miles, anyway (p. 114).  He misstates the speed of sound by a factor of five, saying it is a mile/per second, when in fact it is just over 1,000 feet per second (p.176).  It is erroneously stated that Wesleyan Methodism didn’t really gain popularity until after the American Civil War (1865ff; p. 337); of course, the major expansion of Methodism in America occurred in the 60 years preceding the Civil War.  Winchester even fails (p. 362) to calculate how far the San Andreas Fault is out of kilter over the past century--figuring one hundred years of inch-and-a-half annual slippage needed as totaling 200 inches or about 17 feet (I figure 1.5” X 100 = 150 “ or  12.5’).  That I caught so many “faults” in one read through does not speak well of the either the author or the editor’s dependability in matters of detail, and makes me wonder what other errors I missed.

 

Plate tectonics, with relevant matters of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and such are front and center in importance in analyzing the Great Flood, its affects and aftermath (current plate movements are the remnants of activities that were greatly accelerated and much more widespread during and after the Flood), and also the future foretold great earthquake of Revelation.

 

We have reviewed three of Simon Winchester’s earlier books, The Professor and the Madman (AISI 3:7) and The Meaning of Everything (AISI 7:2), both about the making  of the Oxford English Dictionary, and Krakatoa (AISI 6:8) about the famous volcano and its eruption in the 1880s.

---Doug Kutilek

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Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the World’s Great Preacher by Russell H. Conwell.  Edgewood Publishing, 1892.  616 pp.  Hardback.

 

The years immediately after the death of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) at Mentone in southern France, January 31, 1892 witnessed the publication of a shelf full of biographies of the great English pastor and preacher.  Some were mere pot-boilers, designed to cash in on the man’s fame.  Others were more thoughtful, produced by close associates, co-laborers, former students and one compiled by his wife and his personal secretary which were of greater value and permanence. 

 

This biography of Spurgeon was one of the first to appear on the American side of the Atlantic.  It traces the usual topics in Spurgeon biographies--his birth, up-bringing and early influences, his remarkable conversion at 15 (reproducing a lengthy account by Spurgeon himself, with the preacher of the day named as Rev. Robert Eaglen, though accounts from Spurgeon himself that I have read expressly deny that the preacher’s identity that day was known), why he had no formal college training for the ministry, his first pastorate, the call to London, and ministry and associated institutions (college, orphanages, book-fund, etc.) there.  In comparing this biography with all other Spurgeon accounts I have read, there is a far greater emphasis on incidents of healing (chapter 7, “Wonderful Healing”), and a much more detailed accounting of Mrs. Spurgeon’s famous “book fund” (chapter 9) (which provided tens of thousands of theological books free to impoverished pastors of all denominations in England) than any other known to me.  Conwell also relates numerous and remarkable incidents involving Divine answers to prayer that I have not met with elsewhere (chapter 12 “God heard him”).

 

Other details that Conwell related that I can’t recall seeing elsewhere--he gives a complete list of all Pastor’s College graduates through 1891 (pp. 399-405); during his lifetime, scrapbooks were kept of all contemporary newspaper cartoons, editorial and articles involving Spurgeon (literally thousands of such items)--have these been preserved to this day?  Spurgeon, a man who hated debt, had a mortgage on his first London house; his second and last, Westwood, had a full 30 acres of ground, most of that in lawn or trees; once, a confidence man talked Spurgeon into an investment in which Spurgeon lost heavily.  There are several woodcuts found here that I have not seen elsewhere.

 

The book’s final 100-plus pages is taken up with selected chapters from Spurgeon’s John Ploughman’s Talk, and three sermons, one the famous “Sepoy Rebellion” sermon of 1857, in which Spurgeon, age 23, addressed some 24,000 people.  An additional hundred or so pages earlier in the book consists of lengthy reproduction of articles, chiefly about the book fund, from Spurgeon’s monthly print magazine, The Sword and the Trowel.

 

How this book came to be written is related in the biography of the author, Russell H. Conwell and His Work by Agnes Rush Burr (Philadelphia: John C. Winston, 1926), pp. 342-3:

 

Russell Conwell’s most successful early biography was his “Life of Charles H. Spurgeon.”  He had known Spurgeon; had interviewed him; and had written out his sermons.  So, when the great preacher died, a publishing company immediately wired Doctor Conwell for a biography.  The offer came at a time when he was in the very heaviest work of the church and University.  He did not see at first how any time could be spared for extraneous matter such as this.  But the publisher was insistent--and incidentally there was a little mission of Grace Baptist Church that needed money.

 

Doctor Conwell finally sent an affirmative reply; started on a lecturing trip on which he was to speak every night; took his secretary with him, and dictated the book on the train during the day.  The book was finished within two weeks and had a sale of 125,000 copies in four months.  All the royalties were given to the mission which is today one of the successful churches in Philadelphia.  It may be interesting to know, also, that in one month twenty-nine letters were received from young men who had decided to go into the ministry as a result of reading the book.

 

No doubt the “finished in two weeks” remark applies to the dictated first draft, and surely Dr. Conwell had notes and other information with him as he dictated (he specifically mentions in the text three other Spurgeon biographers--Ellis, Needham and Stevenson-- who wrote before the London preacher’s death).  While certainly not among the best Spurgeon biographies, neither is it among the poorest, and may be read with profit.

 

The author, Russell H. Conwell (1843-1925), trained as a lawyer and experienced as a newspaper reporter before he entered the ministry at age 37, pastored Grace Baptist Church (a.k.a. the Baptist Temple) in Philadelphia from 1882 until his death, and founded a number of associated institutions (after the manner of Spurgeon), including Temple College (now University).  He had for a time one of the largest congregations in America, and was a personal acquaintance of Spurgeon.  He was a prolific writer, particularly of biographies, including several “campaign” biographies written for Republican presidential candidates.  He is the “Conwell” in the name of Gordon-Conwell Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  He is best remembered for his oft-repeated lecture “Acres of Diamonds.”

---Doug Kutilek

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Some quotes from Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the World’s Great Preacher by Russell H. Conwell--

 

“Probably no profession in the world contains as many imitators as that of the ministry.  One man’s success immediately brings about him a school of prophets, who regard him as a superior model, and follow him in the closest details; but every such follower is a dismal failure.  The curse of the pulpit, if there be any one curse more deleterious than another, is this weak tendency to imitate some successful man.” (p. 111)

 

“Mr. Spurgeon was wise enough to set a high value upon printed matter. . . . It seems reasonable to state that Mr. Spurgeon’s influence would have been very little compared to that which it did reach if he had not availed himself of this very powerful reinforcement in the establishment of public opinion.” (p. 444)

 

“Mr. Spurgeon has pertinently said:--‘The printing-press is the mightiest agency on earth for good or evil.  The position of a minister of religion standing in his pulpit is a responsible position, but it does not appear so responsible a position as that of the editor and publisher.  Men die, but the literary influences they project go on for ever.’ ” (pp. 478-9)

 

“I found it hard to write more when I had said just about all I knew.”  Spurgeon in the character of ‘John Ploughman.’ (p. 497; many an author has not let such a hindrance deter him from writing yet more!--ed.)

 

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