Feast of William Gay Ballantine (January 10)   1 comment

Springfield

Above:  International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1900

Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a23744

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WILLIAM GAY BALLANTINE (DECEMBER 7, 1848-JANUARY 10, 1937)

U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

William Gay Ballantine (1848-1937) came from an accomplished American family.  His grandfather, Ebenezer Ballantine (1756-1823), was a surgeon and a veteran of the U.S. War for Independence.  Our saint, named for his uncle, William Gay Ballantine (1807-1841), was one of seven children of the Reverend Elisha Ballantine (1809-1886) and Betsy Ann Watkins Ballantine (1812-1873).  Elisha studied at Union Theological Seminary, located at the time at Prince Edward Court House (now Farmville), Virginia, and served as an instructor there before he graduated.  Then he studied at Halle, Germany, for a year and a half before returning to his alma mater as Professor of Hebrew and Greek in 1831.  Seven years later Elisha left for Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, to become Professor of Greek.  He left that position after two years to become pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Prince Edward Court House (now Farmville Presbyterian Church), where he served from 1840 to 1847.  Then Elisha served as assistant minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C. (the legacy of which lives in the National Presbyterian Church in that city), resigning in 1851 due to health issues.  He, after leading a private school, started a successful career at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.  There he taught mathematics (1854-1856), languages (1856-1863), and Greek (1863-1886), and served as Acting President (1884) and as Vice President (1884-1886).

Our saint, William Gay Ballantine (1848-1937), entered the world at Washington, D.C., on December 7, 1848.  His life fit well into his family’s pattern of excellence.  Ballantine graduated from Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, in 1868.  Briefly he worked as an assistant engineer on the staff of the Ohio Geographical Survey before attending the other Union Theological Seminary, the one in New York, New York.  Ballantine graduated in 1872 then studied at the University of Leipzig.  In 1873 he took a break from his studies to participate in the first American Palestine Expedition, a project of the American Palestine Exploration Society.  Then, in 1874, our saint commenced his academic career in the United States.

That career had three phases:  1874-1891, 1891-1896, and 1897-1921.    In 1874 Ballantine became Professor of Natural History and Chemistry at Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin.  During his time at Ripon our saint married Emma Frances Atwood (1857-1919).  The ceremony occurred in 1875.  The couple had four children:

  1. Henry Winthrop Ballantine (1880-1951), a distinguished professor of law;
  2. Arthur Atwood Ballantine (1883-1960), Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury (1931-1932), Undersecretary of the Treasury (1932-1933), and attorney;
  3. Edward Ballantine (1886-1974), composer and professor of music; and
  4. Mary Frances Ballantine (born in 1892 or 1893; was 17 years old at the time of the U.S. Census of 1910).  I sought more information about her, without success.

From 1876 to 1878 our saint was Professor of Greek (with his father, Elisha) at Indiana University, Bloomington.  Then, in 1878, Ballantine relocated to Oberlin, Ohio, to teach at Oberlin College.  There we was Professor of Greek and Hebrew Exegesis (1878-1880), became a Congregationalist minister (1880), was Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature (1880-1891), served as an editor of Biblioteca Sacra and contributed scholarly articles to the publication (1874-1891), and served as chairman of the faculty (1889-1891).  In 1891 Western Reserce College, Cleveland, Ohio, awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree.

The second phase of Ballantine’s academic career in the United States was his time (1891-1896) as the President of Oberlin College.  The inauguration occurred on July 1, 1891.  Our saint had great ambitions for the institution he led.  Although its primary purpose was to educate ministers, he was determined not to sacrifice academic excellence in secular subjects.  Toward that end Ballantine sought to establish a graduate program in philosophy.  Economic realities intervened, however.  In 1893 the U.S. economy entered a depression.  Enrollment and revenues declined.  A $10 (equivalent to about $300 in 2014) increase in tuition seemed necessary to balance the books at Oberlin College.  Protests ensued.  Ballantine resigned on June 22, 1896, and declined a professorship.  Instead he studied in Greece for about a year.

The Hawaiian Star. Honolulu, May 25, 1903, Page 5

The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 25, 1903, Page 5

Accessed via newspapers.org

The third phase of Ballantine’s U.S. academic career unfolded at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (now Springfield College), Springfield, Massachusetts.  Our saint was Professor of Bible there from 1897 to 1921.  He discouraged Biblical literalism and encouraged acceptance of scientific evidence.  This fact disturbed enough people in leadership to prompt a year-long investigation of Ballantine’s theological soundness.  He passed the test.

Our saint retired in 1921 and devoted himself to writing.  He had been writing and publishing for decades, but his output increased after his retirement.  Ballantine’s published works included the following:

  1. The Oberlin Jubilee:  1833-1883 (1883), as editor;
  2. Jehovah’s Champion:  A Study of the Book of Job (1890);
  3. Inductive Logic (1896);
  4. Christ in the Gospel of Mark (1898);
  5. Philippians, the Model Letter (1898);
  6. Inductive Bible Studies:  Mark and Acts (1898);
  7. Key to Inductive Bible Studies (1899);
  8. The Young Man from Nazareth (1921);
  9. Understanding the Bible (1925);
  10. Discovering Jesus (1927);
  11. The Logic of Science (1933); and
  12. The Riverside New Testament:  A Translation from the Original Greek into the English of To-Day (1934).

Ballantine was also a poet.  One of his compositions, “Romaios,” graced America:  A Litany of the Nations (1907).  In 1912 he wrote a hymn, “God Save America,” which reflected his Social Gospel orientation.  Certain hymn websites have yielded a the title (yet no text) of a second hymn, “Justice Now Sits Enthroned.”  I have not found the text in any of the old hymnals in my collection either.

Ballantine died at Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 10, 1937.  He was 88 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS AND PEACE ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND WITNESS FOR PEACE

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [William Gay Ballantine and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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One response to “Feast of William Gay Ballantine (January 10)

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  1. Pingback: God Save America! | GATHERED PRAYERS

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