Feast of John Gray (April 1)   1 comment

Above:  My Copy of I & II Kings:  A Commentary (1970)

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN GRAY (JUNE 9, 1913-APRIL 1, 2000)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Mythologist, Biblical Scholar, and Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages

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To

The late Rev. Professor H. H. Rowley

in token of gratitude

for his continued help and encouragement as a colleague

and friend

for the stimulus of his many publications

for his loyal support of our present project

in his failing health

and as a parting tribute

this book is inscribed

–The dedication, I & II Kings:  A Commentary (Second Edition, 1970)

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John Gray comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Second Edition (1970) of I & II Kings:  A Commentary.  I own a copy.

Gray was a minister, a missionary, a linguist, and a scholar.  Our saint, born in Kelso, Scotland, on June 9, 1913, was a son of a master tailor.  Gray, who grew up learning self-sufficiency in nature, knew how to fish well, kept bees, and gardened.  He also excelled at Edinburgh University, where he studied classics and the Old Testament.  Our saint, furthermore, studied Arabic under the renowned Richard Bell (1876-1952), an influential scholar of the Koran.  Gray, as a Blackie Scholar, traveled in Palestine and Greece for a year.  During that year he visited the École Biblique, Jerusalem, and held the recently discovered Ras Sharma text.  Furthermore, our saint was a divinity student at Greifswald under the tutelage of Gustav Dalman (1855-1941).

The Church of Scotland ordained Gray in 1939.  He, assigned as a missionary in Haifa, went on to spend two and a half years as a chaplain to the Palestinian Police.  As a chaplain our saint traveled throughout Palestine.  He became acquainted with the people, the culture, and the topography.  Sometimes Gray disappeared into the desert with Bedouins for days.  He was gaining experience that informed his later work in Biblical scholarship.

Gray had a gift for learning languages.  In 1941, while returning to Scotland on a Norwegian ship, our saint learned Norwegian.  He retained mastery of that language years later, when he visited Oslo, to deliver two lectures in Norwegian.  One Norwegian linguist’s review of the manuscripts was that Gray had an excellent grasp of the language, but that he used nautical terms too frequently.

Gray was a parish minister in Scotland from 1942 to 1947.  He served on the island of Arran, in the Parish of Kilmory.  While in that remote setting our saint studied the Ugaritic texts he had encountered at the École Biblique, Jerusalem, years prior.  Gray also continued to study Arabic, which he found invaluable to interpreting the Ugaritic texts.

Gray became a professional academic in 1947.  H. H. Rowley (1890-1969), to whom he dedicated I & II Kings:  A Commentary (Second Edition, 1970), offered our saint a position on the faculty of Semitic Languages at Manchester University.   Gray taught at King’s College, Aberdeen, Scotland, from 1953 to 1980, when he retired.  He was a Lecturer (1953-1962) then Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages.  Gray, a dedicated researcher and writer, published, among other volumes:

  1. The Keret Text in the Literature of Ras Sharma:  A Social Myth of Ancient Canaan (1955);
  2. The Legacy of Canaan (1957);
  3. Archaeology and the Old Testament World (1962);
  4. The Canaanites (1964);
  5. I & II Kings:  A Commentary (First Edition, 1964; Second Edition, 1970);
  6. A History of Jerusalem (1969);
  7. Near Eastern Mythology:  Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine (1969);
  8. What About the Children? (1970); and
  9. The Biblical Doctrine of the Reign of God (1979).

In his retirement Gray worked on the Book of Job.  He brought Arabic and Ugraritic to bear on obscure passages of that composite text.

Gray, aged 86 years, died on April 1, 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF NYASALAND, AND MARTYR, 1862

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY BÉNÉZET, FRENCH-AMERICAN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF LANZA DEL VASTO, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE ARK

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

THE FEAST OF MARY EVELYN “MEV” PULEO, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHOTOJOURNALIST AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John Gray 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 John Gray (April 1)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of H. H. Rowley (October 4) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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