William Lyon Phelps taught English at Yale for thirty years. As a child he knew Mark Twain and became a popular columnist in the best magazines of his day. In his autobiography one meets the “who’s who” of his day. He wrote three books about the Bible and what he says about it as an expert in English is of value:
“Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can, among Europeans and Americans, form a proper substitute. Western civilization is founded upon the Bible; our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals, come more from the Bible than from all other books put together. It is a revelation of divinity and humanity; it contains the loftiest religious aspirations along with a candid representation of all that is earthly, sensual, and devilish. I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible. For in the Bible we have profound thought beautifully expressed; we have the nature of boys and girls, of men and women, more accurately charted than in the works of any modern novelist or playwright. You can learn more about human nature by reading the Bible than by living in New York.”
Elsewhere he wrote: “The Bible has been a greater influence on the course of English literature than of all other forces put together; it is impossible to read standard authors intelligently without knowing something about the Bible for they all assume familiarity with it on the part of their readers.”
And finally: “. . . it is impossible to consider the New Testament merely as a literary work. It is assuredly the literary masterpiece of all time. . .”
Lanny Tanton is the Pastor at The Bible Church of the Lakes in Horseshoe Bay, Texas – just outside of Marble Falls. Pastor Tanton welcomes you to our website and hopes that you’ll enjoy reading these insightful blog posts. Please contact us if you have further questions!!