Thomas E. Peck on the duty of divinity students to read the English Bible

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
The second element of the discipline of piety I shall mention is the constant reading of God’s word in the English version. Be not startled at this statement. Are we not here, you are ready to say, for the express purpose of studying the Scriptures? Why, then, mention this particularly? I answer, that the very fact that you are here for the study of the Scriptures makes it all the more needful to exhort you to familiarity with the English version.

The grammatical and critical study of the Hebrew and Greek texts in which you are to be employed will not answer the purposes of devotion. Your want of thorough acquaintance with these languages will be a constant obstruction to the flow of feeling. Your habit of searching into the exact meaning and shade of meaning of every word—a habit to be cultivated with much diligence—will have the effect, if not counteracted by other habits, of making your acquaintance with Scripture merely scholastic in its character and limited in its range, limited to the parts of the Bible which are critically studied in the seminary course. ...

The ability to recite off-hand, from memory, paragraph after paragraph of Milton or Shakespeare has been considered an enviable attainment. Why should we value less a like facility in reference to the Bible? The English Bible, considered merely as an English classic, is fully equal, to say the least, to Shakespeare or Milton. It is incomparably superior for the purposes of a minister, because, among the masses of the people, it has ten readers where any other great classic has one. ...

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