Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I've lifted this from the NT Resources blog by Rod Decker. Rod tells the story of John Brown of Haddington and how, as a child or teenager, he taught himself Greek using an old Latin textbook and the Greek New Testament. Talk about determined! The story carries on as follows:

He wanted a copy of a Greek NT for his own. The nearest bookstore that would have one was 24 miles away at St. Andrews. He arranged for a friend to watch his flock of sheep (he earned his room and board as a shepherd) and walked all night, barefoot, arriving at the bookstore in the morning. Robertson describes what happened (quoting from Mackenzie).

Going in, he startled the shopman by asking for a Greek New Testament. He was a very raw-looking lad at the time, his clothes were rough, homespun, and ragged, and his feet were bare. ‘What would YOU do wi’ that book? You’ll no can read it,’ said the bookseller. ‘I’ll try to read it,’ was the humble answer of the would-be purchaser. Meanwhile some of the professors had come into the shop, and, nearing the table, and surveying the youth, questioned him closely as to what he was, where he came from, and who had taught him. Then one of them, not unlikely Francis Pringle, then Professor of Greek, asked the bookseller to bring a Greek New Testament, and throwing it down on the counter, said: ‘Boy, if you can read that book, you shall have it for nothing.’ He took it up eagerly, read a passage to the astonishment of those in the shop, and marched out with the gift, so worthily won in triumph. By the afternoon, he was back at duty on the hills of Abernethy, studying his New Testament the while, in the midst of his flock.

From: A. T. Robertson. The Minister and His Greek New Testament. New York: George H. Doran, 1923. (See ch. 9.)


Thomas O. Scarborough said...

I hear that in Greece they learn it by the time they are two years old. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenny,

John Brown's direct descendant is David Brown, my best friend. He has an old family Bible which contains commentary by John Brown. I have spent some time studying the text. He was truly a remarkable man and an inspiration.

Macrina Walker said...

Wow. I think I'll have to print this out and display it prominently next time I have a go at Greek!

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Wow, Mark - that's awesome. That wouldn't be David Brown son of Ron, by any chance?

Thomas :-)

Macrina - yes, I am somewhat humbled by the opportunities I have had.