Today, there are many who encourage pastors to study Hebrew and Greek. Back in the day, the Puritan greats were masters of the Bible’s original languages. I’m not discounting this at all, although my proficiency in Hebrew and Greek is feeble at best. I just found it interesting to come across an anecdote passed down concerning John Bunyan and his being challenged on this very issue.
Bunyan was a tinker and not an educated scholar. But he had no qualms about picking up his English Bible and preaching boldly, however. I share the following anecdote about Bunyan and the English Bible below.
I might fear that some will now take this story and assume Bunyan was really a King James Only proponent. But I would just remind them that Bunyan used the Geneva Bible like all good dissenters of his day!
Another story… concerns Bunyan’s encounter on the road near Cambridge with another university man, who asked him how he, not having the original Scriptures, dared to preach. Bunyan was nothing if not quick on his feet, and so he answered the scholar with a question: “Do you, sir, have the originals–the actual copies of the books written by the prophets and apostles?”
“No,” the scholar replied, “but I have what I know to be true copies of the originals.”
Perhaps there was the hint of a smile in Bunyan’s reply. “And I,” he said, “believe the English Bible to be a true copy also.” At a loss for words, the university man turned and went on his way.
Excerpted from John Bunyan (Christian Encounters series),
by Kevin Belmonte (Nelson), pp. 79-80.