Feast of William McKane (September 4)   1 comment

Above:  My Copy of McKane’s Proverbs:  A New Approach (1970)

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM MCKANE (FEBRUARY 11, 1921-SEPTEMBER 4, 2004)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

William McKane comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Biblical Studies section of my library, which includes his seminal commentary (all 670 pages of it), Proverbs:  A New Approach (1970).

McKane had a passion for excellence in his academic work, on which he labored until one day before his death.  He did not seem destined for that career, though.  Our saint, born in Dundee, Scotland, on February 11, 1921, dropped out of school at the age of 15 years to become a clerk in the firm of H and A Scott, Dundee.  Soon McKane discerned a vocation for ordained ministry, so he attended night school while keeping his day job.  From 1941 to 1945 he served in the Royal Air Force.  Then, in 1946, our saint matriculated at St. Andrews University, St. Andrews.  He, graduating in 1949, became a minister in the Original Secession Church (extant 1822-1956), which merged into The Church of Scotland.  He was, therefore, from 1956, a minister in The Church of Scotland.  McKane, from 1949 to 1953 the pastor at Kilwinning, married Agnes Howie, his wife for the rest of his life, in 1952.  The couple had three sons and two daughters.  He earned his doctorate from Glasgow University in 1956.  The title of the dissertation was “The Old Israelite Community and the Rise of the Monarchy.”

McKane, who had a distinguished academic career, received many honors, none of which I list here, for the sake of brevity.  His career started at Glasgow University, where he was Assistant in Hebrew (1953-1956), Lecturer in Hebrew (1956-1965), and Senior Lecturer in Hebrew (1965-1968).  During those years McKane translated Book 33 of the Revival of the Religious Sciences, by the Medieval Islamic mystic al-Ghazali; Al-Ghazali’s Book of Fear and Hope debuted in 1962.  In the realm of Hebrew Biblical studies our saint published his commentary on I & II Samuel:  Introduction and Commentary (1963), followed by Tracts for the Times:  Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (1965).  Also in 1965, McKane published his first major work, Prophets and Wise Men (1965), in which he distinguished between the empiricism of the sages and the intuition of the prophets.

From 1968 to 1990 McKane was Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Languages at St. Andrews University.  He also doubled as the Dean of the Faculty of Divinity (1973-1977) and the Principal of St. Mary’s College (1982-1986).  With Proverbs:  A New Approach (1970) our saint cemented his international academic reputation by helping to restore the study of Biblical wisdom, previously overshadowed by the “salvation history” approach to the theology of the Hebrew Bible.  Other important works were Studies in the Patriarchal Narratives (1979), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Jeremiah (two tomes, 1986 and 1996), and Selected Christian Hebraists (1988).  McKane also served as a translator of The Revised English Bible (1989), one of my favorite versions.

McKane retired in 1990; he was 69 years old.  Our saint remained active during his final years.  He published A Late Harvest:  Reflections on the Old Testament (1995), a collection of essays.  Micah:  Introduction and Commentary followed three years later.  McKane’s final project was a commentary on the Book of Job; he had written though Chapter 33 on the day before he died. McKane died in St. Andrews on September 4, 2004.  He was 83 years old.

McKane is a worthy addition to my Ecumenical Calendar.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOANNA, MARY, AND SALOME, WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [William McKane 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 McKane (September 4)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of William F. Albright and G. Ernest Wright (September 6) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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