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John Richard Sampey: shoulders on which to stand.

The Assignment: Write an article for Baptist History and Heritage on "Baptists and the Old Testament." Well, to be honest, I had never really connected scholarly work on the Old Testament with a particular denomination Denomination

The stated value found on financial instruments.

This term applies to most financial instruments with monetary values. The denomination for bonds and securities would be face value or par value.

Those of us in the field can rattle off the great role call of names: Wellhausen, Gunkel, Mowinckel, Westermann, Childs, Rowley, Crenshaw cren·shaw   also cran·shaw
A variety of winter melon (Cucumis melo var. inodorus) having a greenish-yellow rind and sweet, usually salmon-pink flesh.

[Origin unknown.]
, Brueggemann--and the list goes on. But where to begin in a search for the impact of Baptist scholars on the study of the Old Testament? So, I began a selfish quest.

I am associate professor of Old Testament and biblical languages  Biblical languages are any of the languages employed in the original writings of the Bible. Partially owing to the significance of the Bible in society, Biblical languages are studied more widely than many other dead languages.  at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University Mercer University is a private, coeducational, faith-based university with a Baptist heritage, located in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Mercer is the only university of its size in the United States that offers programs in eleven diversified fields of study: liberal arts,
, Atlanta, Georgia. Twelve years ago, I had never heard of Mercer University. That statement is not a reflection on Mercer University, but on my own background and the life experiences I bring to the work I do at McAfee. I am from California, from an American Baptist American Baptist may refer to:
  • American Baptist Association
  • American Baptist Churches USA
  • Baptist who is an American
 background. I graduated from California State University Enrollment
 at Northridge and from Fuller Theological Seminary Through its three schools, Theology, Psychology, Intercultural Studies, and the Horner Center for Lifelong Learning, the seminary offers university-style education leading to 13 different degrees accredited by the Association of Theological Schools[1] and the Western  in Pasadena, California Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 133,936 and the 160th largest city in the United States. The California Finance Department estimates the Pasadena population to be 146,166 in 2005. . Through a set of career circumstances that took my husband and me to Texas, I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Baylor University Baylor University, mainly at Waco, Tex.; coeducational; chartered and opened 1845 by Baptists (see Baylor, Robert E. B.) at Independence, moved 1886 and absorbed Waco Univ. (chartered 1861). The library has a noted Robert Browning collection.  in the fall of 1991 (talk about timing!). In the fall of 1995, Alan Culpepper Alan Culpepper (born 15 September, 1972) is an American distance runner. His accomplishments include finishing fourth in the Boston Marathon in 2005, winning the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and finishing 12th at the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens. , dean of the McAfee School of Theology, offered me a position; and when I graduated in December of that year, we moved to Atlanta Slang for a 404 error on the Web, which is a link to a missing page. The area code for Atlanta, Georgia is 404. See 404 error. .

And the rest, as they say, is history. Except I didn't know the history. My family and I were living in the Southeast for the first time in our lives, and I was involved in a Baptist institution that was working to forge a new path of Baptist identity in the late-twentieth century. The story my colleagues at the school like best to tell about me took place one spring afternoon in 1995. The five of us faculty were driving home from a engagement in south Georgia South Georgia, island, c.1,450 sq mi (3,760 sq km), S Atlantic Ocean, c.1,200 mi (1,930 km) E of Cape Horn. A dependency of the Falkland Islands from 1908 to 1985 (along with the South Sandwich Islands, a group of nine small, volcanic islets c.  and reflecting on the events that had led to the formation of the McAfee School of Theology (and a number of other theological institutions that cropped up in the 1990s). A name that was repeatedly mentioned was "Adrian Rogers Adrian Pierce Rogers, Th.D. (September 12, 1931 – November 15, 2005), was an American pastor, author, and a three-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1979-1980 and 1986-1988). Supporters have described him as the apostle Paul of Southern Baptists. ." At some point in the conversation, I asked (quite innocently!), "Okay, who is this `Adrian Rogers' person?" That question branded me permanently as one who had not lived through the devastating dev·as·tate  
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.

2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark.
 events in Southern Baptist Noun 1. Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists

Baptist - follower of Baptistic doctrines
 life in the late-twentieth century.

Who were these people--my colleagues-and what had happened that had made them willing to leave secure teaching, pastoral, and denominational positions and participate in a new undertaking in Baptist life? The wounds were deep, and the determination was unmatched-wounds and determination intimately associated with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary References
External links
  • The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Archives Southern Baptist Seminary
  • Boyce College
  • SBTS Student and Faculty MetaBlog
  • Said At Southern, index of blogs and current events
, Louisville, Kentucky

“Louisville” redirects here. For other uses, see Louisville (disambiguation).
. Thus began my quest to understand, and, to my delight, thus began the accompanying "history lessons." Loyd Allen--McAfee's professor of church history and spiritual formation--was a willing and able teacher; I listened and observed at the various meetings I attended; and I caught the underlying current of dedication to the cause of continuing Baptist life in the true sense of the word "Baptist."

I found myself admiring, more than I imagined I could ever admire, this group of pilgrims who were determined to maintain what Walter B. Shurden called "the four fragile freedoms." (1) Those principles have defined Baptist identity from the day in the seventeenth century when it took its stand on English soft and said, "Here, but no further." Hitherto unfamiliar names began to be familiar to me--Whitsitt, Mullins, McCall--almost as familiar as Gunkel, Childs, and Rowley. But were there any Old Testament scholars among them?

What has been the Baptist contribution to Old Testament studies? And, in my selfish quest to understand the roots of my colleagues in the Southeast, what has been the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's contribution to Old Testament studies? How to find out? In 1996, I was asked to serve on the editorial board of a journal called Review and Expositor. I was told that it was originally founded as the faculty journal of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but that it had been "acquired" in 1995 by the Southern faculty who did not agree with the theological leanings of the seminary. I served as associate editor of the journal from 1997 to 2001, and, in 2001, I became managing editor. Talk about an education! (But, again, that is a story for another day and time.)

As I thought about the subject of this article, I decided that my best beginning might be to look back through previous issues of Review and Expositor to see who had written articles on the Old Testament. I discovered that a goodly good·ly  
adj. good·li·er, good·li·est
1. Of pleasing appearance; comely.

2. Quite large; considerable: a goodly sum.
 number of the articles on the Old Testament had been written by Southern Seminary professors whose credentials were "John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation": Clyde Francisco--John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation; J. J. Owens--John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation.

Who was John R. Sampey, and why is his--as far as I can tell--the only endowed en·dow  
tr.v. en·dowed, en·dow·ing, en·dows
1. To provide with property, income, or a source of income.

 chair of Old Testament studies at Southern Seminary? I had never (until now) read his works; I had never referenced one of his works in my writings; I don't use any of his books in the classroom. And yet, his influence seems far-reaching. So, let us explore together this person who, by all accounts, was so influential in the life of Baptists in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries of America. And let us together gain an appreciation for his contribution to the study of the Old Testament in America.

"I Do Not Know What to Do"

The story of John Richard John D. Richard Q.C. (born July 30, 1934) is the Chief Justice of Canada's Federal Court of Appeal.

Richard was born in Ottawa and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Ottawa in 1955, followed by his law studies at Osgoode Hall Law
 Sampey's early life appears rather mundane and uneventful. He was born in Fort Deposit, Alabama Fort Deposit is a town in Lowndes County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 1,270.

This town is named after a fort that was built under the order of Gen. Andrew Jackson.
, September 27, 1863, the fourth child of James L. and Louisa (Cochran) Sampey, two devoutly Christian people. His father was first a Methodist and then a Baptist minister, and John seems to have been destined des·tine  
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.

 for a life of ministry from the beginning. Sampey's own memoirs and his daughter's book about life with her father include the story of Sampey's profound conversion experience. At thirteen, after hearing one of his father's sermons, he was deeply convicted of his sinfulness. (2)
   As I lay on the trundle bed on the night of March 3, 1877,
   I could not go to sleep.... I was in distress over my sins.
   In my desperation I lifted my eyes upward and began to talk
   in a whisper to the Saviour. I said to him: "Lord Jesus, I
   do not know what to do. I have prayed, but I get no relief.
   I have read the Bible, but my sins are still a burden on my
   soul. I have listened to preaching, but find no help. I do
   not know what to do except to turn it all over to you;
   and if I am lost, I will go down trusting you." Then something
   happened. It seemed that a great Presence filled the
   room and said to me almost in audible words: "My boy, I have been
   waiting for you to do what you have just done. You can count
   on me to save you. I will not fail you." (3)

Shortly thereafter, Sampey made a public profession of faith, was baptized bap·tize  
v. bap·tized, bap·tiz·ing, bap·tiz·es
1. To admit into Christianity by means of baptism.

a. To cleanse or purify.

b. To initiate.

, and received the "hand of church fellowship."
   My father, whom I loved and honored, seemed handsomer than ever. My
   mother, who was a beautiful woman, never looked so lovely. The
   flowers in the yard were prettier than I had ever seem them, and the
   birds in the trees sang more sweetly. All the world had changed.
   I had declared my loyalty to the Lord Jesus, confessing him
   publicly in baptism. A quiet peace filled my soul. (4)

Sampey's story of his conversion is a telling insight into what seems to have been the character of this man. While he was pragmatic and never afraid of controversy or speaking his mind, he was at heart a gentle, introspective in·tro·spect  
intr.v. in·tro·spect·ed, in·tro·spect·ing, in·tro·spects
To engage in introspection.

[Latin intr
, and highly sensitive person A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Gustav Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. . He was a kind scholar, a stirring preacher, and an able leader-traits that were essential for the life in which he found himself called. Clyde Francisco, the third John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, in fact compared Sampey with the prophet Samuel. (5) But we get ahead of our story.

Sampey was licensed to preach at fifteen; at sixteen, he began studies at Howard College Howard County Junior College, more commonly known as Howard College, is a community college with its main campus in Big Spring, Texas and branch campuses in San Angelo and Lamesa, the seat of Dawson County.  in Marion, Alabama Marion is the county seat of Perry County, AlabamaGR6. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 3,511. First called Muckle Ridge, the city was renamed after a hero of the American Revolution, Francis Marion. , in 1879. The text of his first sermon--preached when he was not quite seventeen--was Psalm 90:2, taken no doubt from the Authorized Version: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst hadst  
v. Archaic
A second person singular past tense of have.
 formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting everlasting or immortelle (ĭm'ôrtĕl`), names for numerous plants characterized by papery or chaffy flowers that retain their form and often their color when dried and are used for winter bouquets and decorations.  to everlasting, thou art God."

The subject was "Eternity," and his Sunday School Sunday school, institution for instruction in religion and morals, usually conducted in churches as part of the church organization but sometimes maintained by other religious or philanthropic bodies.

In England during the 18th cent.
 teacher's criticism of the sermon was that it pictured heaven and hell far too vividly, "as if the images of the Bible were all to be taken literally." (6)


In the fall of 1882, Sampey entered Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the twenty-third year of the school's existence. There were one hundred students. James Boyce James Boyce (September 6, 1947 – January 25, 1994), known as Jimmy Boyce, was a British Labour politician.

He was a member of Sheffield Council from 1984 and was elected Member of Parliament for Rotherham in 1992, but died less than 2 years later.
, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., George Riggan, and William Whitsitt were their instructors. In his first year, Sampey studied Old Testament, junior Hebrew, New Testament, junior Greek, and biblical introduction, spending six hours per week with Basil Manly (biblical introduction and Old Testament), five hours with George Riggan (junior Hebrew and junior Greek), and four hours with John Broadus (New Testament). Sampey was particularly impressed with George Riggan, who taught junior Hebrew and junior Greek with what he described as "kindling kindling (kinˑ·dling),
n change in brain function wherein repeated chemical or electrical stimuli induce seizures.


1. parturition in the doe rabbit.
 enthusiasm." (7) As a professor of Hebrew myself, I was amused a·muse  
tr.v. a·mused, a·mus·ing, a·mus·es
1. To occupy in an agreeable, pleasing, or entertaining fashion.

 to read Sampey's confession that in his first lesson he "not only wrote from right to left, but started on the bottom line and climbed to the top. The teacher (Riggan) wrote on the paper that one inversion was enough." (8)

John Sampey's original objective at the end of his seminary studies was to go as a missionary to Mexico. But the untimely death of George Riggan from cerebrospinal meningitis cerebrospinal meningitis
See meningococcal meningitis.
 in April 1885 prompted the seminary to offer Sampey a position as an instructor in Old and New Testament interpretation and homiletics hom·i·let·ics  
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The art of preaching.

the art of sacred speaking; preaching. — homiletic, homiletical adj.
, assisting Manly and Broadus, upon his graduation in 1885. And so, at age twenty-two, John Richard Sampey began his fifty-seven-year career at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Although he taught Old and New Testament interpretation and homiletics, Sampey's great love was Hebrew and the Old Testament. In the age of "stand and recite" language classes, Sampey taught his Hebrew students to chant and sing together the verb conjugations and noun endings (I wonder what tune he used?), and his beginning students were required to memorize mem·o·rize  
tr.v. mem·o·rized, mem·o·riz·ing, mem·o·riz·es
1. To commit to memory; learn by heart.

2. Computer Science To store in memory:
 and recite the first chapter of Genesis in Hebrew. One of the statements that his daughter remembers him making is, "You'll have to learn Hebrew, if you want to talk to the saints in heaven." (9)

Sampey felt that to understand accurately the Old Testament, his students must know the history behind the events depicted in the text. He was, therefore, adamant that students learn about the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian kings and their interaction with the Israelite nation through the centuries. As a result, students began calling Sampey "Tiglath," or "Old Tig," after the Assyrian king Tiglathpileser, who ruled from 745 to 727 B.C. and brought the northern kingdom of Israel "Commonwealth of Israel" redirects here. For the religious movement by that name, see The Twelve Tribes.

The Kingdom of Israel (Hebrew:
 under Assyrian influence. Sampey even grew a short black beard which made him resemble in appearance the kings he required his students to know so much about. Some equate Sampey's interest in the military exploits of Israel and the surrounding nations with his keen interest in Robert E. Lee. Sampey was, after all, a child of the Civil War and was greatly affected by its impact on American society. Lee was, for him, the exemplar ex·em·plar  
1. One that is worthy of imitation; a model. See Synonyms at ideal.

2. One that is typical or representative; an example.

3. An ideal that serves as a pattern; an archetype.

 of a Christian dedicated to the cause of freedom. (10)

A turning point in Sampey's career and in the field of Baptist biblical studies Biblical studies is the academic study of the Judeo-Christian Bible and related texts. For Christianity, the Bible traditionally comprises the New Testament and Old Testament, which together are sometimes called the "Scriptures.  came in 1888. The number of students at Southern Seminary had grown to a point that one person could not teach both Old and New Testament interpretation and homiletics. A brilliant new scholar, A. T. Robertson, was asked to join the seminary faculty. John Broadus, professor of New Testament, allowed Sampey to decide how the coursework would be divided between himself and Robertson.
    senior you have the right of choice. Will you take Greek and
    the New Testament with me or Hebrew and the Old Testament
    with (Basil) Manly?" My reply was prompt: "Doctor, I think
    the facts in the case settle the question. Robertson knows
    more Greek than I do, while I know more Hebrew than he does;
    for I have taught him all that he knows. Much as I
    would like to be with you in Greek and New Testament, for
    the good of the Seminary I ought to take Hebrew and Old
    Testament." (11)

A. T. Robertson assumed the Greek and New Testament responsibilities at Southern, while Sampey gave himself to the study of the Old Testament.

Amid Many Disruptions mad at Great Length

The late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries were times of change in Baptist life in America and in the life of Southern Seminary. Within a decade, between 1888 and 1895, the last three of the four founding faculty of the Seminary died. (12) The enrollment was growing by leaps and bounds. When Sampey matriculated in 1882, the school had one hundred students. In 1891, that number had grown to 236. A number of faculty were added, and in 1891, Sampey was named associate professor of Old Testament and homiletics and librarian of the seminary. Shortly thereafter, he was named professor of Old Testament interpretation and chairman of the department of the same name.

Sampey was an especially prominent player in the controversy surrounding the questioned orthodoxy of Southern Seminary president William H. Whitsitt in 1896. (13) As the senior member of the faculty, he spoke publicly on a number of occasions in support of the seminary's beleaguered be·lea·guer  
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.

2. To surround with troops; besiege.
 president, including at a heated meeting of the Long Run Association of Kentucky Baptists. The gathered group was attempting to pass a resolution to discredit Whitsitt, and Sampey could hold his tongue no longer. He describes his own actions:
   Oh, that mine enemy would make a motion that is debatable!
   I got the floor on the motion to expunge the resolution ..., and
   could now speak at will. The effort to shut off debate, and
   prevent the friends of Dr. Whitsitt from testifying as to his
   high character and his ability to interpret history, had made
   me highly indignant, and I paid my respects in no uncertain
   terms to the political tricks of his critics. In order to have
   a good view of the audience I climbed into the pulpit and soon
   had the attackers on the defensive. The clerk of the
   association described the speech in one brief sentence: "J. R.
   Sampey spoke against this motion amid many interruptions
   and at great length." (14)

The Western Recorder described the events of the following morning:
   Dr. Sampey again took the floor to shake hands with the
   Moderator and to say four things: "I do not believe,"
   said he, "I will ever inflict a speech on Long Run
   Association as long as that one I dumped on you yesterday.
   In the second place, I do not believe I will make any such
   wild gestures and jump over the pulpit as I did yesterday.
   Thirdly, Brother Moderator, I do not believe I will ever
   get half as `mad' as I was yesterday. And in the
   fourth place, I hope, in the goodness of God, nobody will
   ever stir me up to get as `mad' as I was yesterday."
   This closed the episode. (15)

After Whitsitt's resignation, Edgar Y. Mullins was elected president of the seminary, and Sampey worked closely with him throughout his tenure. When Mullins's health failed in 1928, Sampey was named acting president and then became president of the seminary in 1929. Sampey came into office in the year of the stock market crash, and his administration was marked by continuous financial struggles. But the seminary continued to grow. In the 1934-35 academic year, the enrollment was 353; in 1941-42, the last year of Sampey's presidency, the enrollment was 496. And before his death, the entire indebtedness of the seminary was settled.

Requests from Preachers, Teachers, and Students

In 1901, Sampey published his O/d Testament Syllabus with Baptist World Publishing Company in Louisville. In the preface to the 1908 edition, he wrote:
   This Syllabus for Old Testament study has been prepared
   primarily for the use of students in the Southern Baptist
   Theological Seminary. It is supplemented by lectures and
   constant questioning on the part of the teacher.... This
   Syllabus, formerly printed privately, has been revised
   and published, in response to requests from many preachers,
   teachers, and students to whom it has been the author's
   privilege to minister in Seminary Extension work in
   Colleges, Bible Institutes, Conferences, and Conventions. (16)

The journal Baptist Review and Expositor was birthed during a meeting of the faculty club in Sampey's office in 1903. Then president of the seminary, E. Y. Mullins, was named editor-in-chief, and all of the professors of the seminary were co-opted as editors. Sampey contributed articles to the first two issues of the journal on the topic "The Law Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi was a comprehensive set of laws, considered by many scholars to be the oldest laws established; they were handed down four thousand years ago by King Hammurabi of Babylon. ." Happily, the journal has been in continuous publication since that day in 1903.

At the request of the Sunday School Board, Sampey wrote The Heart of the Old Testament. Published in 1909, it was a manual for "young people" to introduce them to "the ancient Hebrew Scriptures Hebrew Scriptures
pl.n. Bible
The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, forming the covenant between God and the Jewish people that is the foundation and Bible of Judaism while constituting for Christians the Old Testament.
 and to set forth the teachings in the Old Testament that would be most helpful to the Christian reader." (17) E. Y. Mullins wrote this about The Heart of the Old Testament:
   The style is direct and clear. Dr. Sampey makes the Old
   Testament history live before us. His characterizations
   are brief but suggestive, and he sums up great periods
   in a few telling sentences.... The book will undoubtedly
   have a very wide sphere of usefulness as a textbook ... as
   well as a wide circulation for general reading. (18)

Nothing Finer in Human Experience

Congregational con·gre·ga·tion·al  
1. Of or relating to a congregation.

2. Congregational Of or relating to Congregationalism or Congregationalists.

Adj. 1.
 life was also important to John Sampey. He maintained that a theological teacher had to have pastoral experience to minister to "young preachers and future pastors." (19) And, as we would expect, Sampey "practiced what he preached." He pastored small churches in Kentucky for over fifty-seven years--from the time that he commenced studies at Southern. He was in wide demand as an evangelistic preacher in churches and on college campuses. Sampey wrote:
   When I stood in one of my pulpits preaching to an attentive
   congregation, I felt that there was nothing finer in human
   experience, and when I sat at the teacher's desk in the
   Seminary lecturing on the Old Testament or on the art of
   preaching, I thought nothing more important and thrilling
   could be offered to a servant of Christ Jesus. (20)

On his eighty-second birthday in 1946, Broadman Press released a book titled Ten Vital Messages, a selection of sermons by Sampey. (21) Interestingly, only three of the ten sermons used an Old Testament text.

A Master of Assemblies

In July 1880, while he was a student at Howard College, Sampey attended with his father the Alabama Baptist Convention meeting. In 1886, he was sent as the representative of Southern Seminary to the Texas Baptist General Convention in Waco, Texas For the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, see .

For other uses of "Waco", see Waco (disambiguation).
Waco (pronounced: /ˈweɪkoʊ/) is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas.
. He attended the Southern Baptist Convention Noun 1. Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists
association - a formal organization of people or groups of people; "he joined the Modern Language Association"

Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention
 meetings in Louisville in 1887 and in Nashville in 1893; delivered the "reply to the address of welcome" at the meeting in Washington in 1895; and remained active in denominational life throughout his career. From 1935 through 1937, Sampey served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. After he presided over the convention meeting for the first time in 1935 in St. Louis, a colleague wrote to him:
   Please let me thank you for the magnificent manner in which you
   handled our Convention. All of us have known you were a great
   preacher, a great teacher, and a great lover of your brethren.
   This is the first opportunity we have had to see you tried as
   a master of assemblies, and now we know that you are great at
   that also. (22)

The Larger Christian World

Sampey was involved in the larger Christian world. He served for forty-six years, from 1895 to 1942, as a member of the International Sunday School Lesson Committee, serving as chairman for twenty-one years. This influential body prepared Sunday School lessons for a great number of evangelical churches in North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere.  in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In 1911, Sampey published a history of the committee's work: The International Lesson System: The History of Its Origin and Development. In it, he wrote:
   Beginning with a constituency of about three million in 1873, the
   International Lesson Committee by 1890 were selecting lessons for
   more than ten million teachers and pupils. The historian must
   record the inauguration and the growth of the International
   Uniform Lesson System as one of the greatest co-operative movements
   in the history of Christendom. (23)

John Sampey was also influential in the organization of the Baptist World Alliance The Baptist World Alliance is a worldwide alliance of Baptist churches and organizations, formed in 1905 at Exeter Hall in London during the first Baptist World Congress. . Beginning in 1929, he served on the committee for the revision of the American Standard Bible. (24) He also traveled extensively on mission fields in Brazil and China. Later, George W. Truett wrote to Sampey from Brazil:
   We have been in Brazil some four and a half weeks, and what
   busy, interesting weeks they have been! Wherever we have
   gone, we have heard the most glowing tributes to your
   former visits to this great land, and to your gracious and
   far-reaching services here. (25)

Visions and Dreams

Teacher, administrator, scholar, preacher, denominational leader, missionary, colleague, and friend--how may we characterize John Richard Sampey? As I read the accounts of his life, one of the things that struck me was that he so often put the good of his "community" ahead of his own visions and dreams. When Sampey finished his studies at Southern in 1885, his heartfelt wish was to go to Mexico as a missionary. But he was persuaded to stay at the seminary and teach after the death of George Riggan. When A. T. Robertson came to Southern and Sampey was given the choice of teaching Old Testament and Hebrew or New Testament and Greek, Sampey decided, "for the good of the Seminary, I ought to take Hebrew and Old Testament" (26)--although he wanted very much to continue to work with his beloved teacher, John Broadus.

Sampey willingly served for a number of years as librarian of the seminary; he put his career on the line with his strong defense of William Whitsitt; he selflessly self·less  
Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish: "Volunteers need both selfish and selfless motives to sustain their interest" Natalie de Combray.
 aided Edgar Mullins during his presidency; and Sampey became president of the seminary at age sixty-six and served tirelessly for thirteen years, until the age of seventy-eight.

He had the longest tenure as committee member (fifty-six years) and committee chairman (twenty-one years) of the International Sunday School Lesson Committee. His sweat and tears were poured into its thousands of publications; his hand penned its history.

But what of John R. Sampey's impact on Old Testament studies? He had a tremendous love of the Hebrew language Hebrew language, member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages). . He taught Hebrew and Aramaic and Arabic. But others have written the Hebrew textbooks and translation guides that are in use today. He obtained his nickname "Tiglath" because of his passionate insistence that his students know the history behind the events depicted in the Old Testament text. But others have written the Old Testament histories and surveys that are in use today. What was Sampey's role and contribution?

Sampey and Samuel

Clyde T. Francisco wrote an article for the fall 1966 issue of Review and Expositor in which he compared Sampey to the biblical figure of Samuel. (27) Francisco drew parallels between Sampey the child and Samuel the child: both had godly god·ly  
adj. god·li·er, god·li·est
1. Having great reverence for God; pious.

2. Divine.

 mothers, both listened to the voice of God early in life, both had exemplary childhoods. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Francisco, both Samuel and Sampey were "righteous judges," "men of prayer," and "prophets." As I assessed Sampey's contributions to Baptists and the Old Testament, I would like to take Francisco's analogy a step further. Samuel was, indeed, devout child, righteous judge, man of prayer, and prophet. But Samuel was also a person "standing in the gap," a person entangled en·tan·gle  
tr.v. en·tan·gled, en·tan·gling, en·tan·gles
1. To twist together or entwine into a confusing mass; snarl.

2. To complicate; confuse.

3. To involve in or as if in a tangle.
 in an era of change in the life of ancient Israel. The book of Judges closes with the words, "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" (21:25). In chapter 1 of Samuel, we meet the person who will resolve the situation-a judge and prophet named Samuel. But Samuel was not himself anointed "Anointed" redirects here. For the process of anointing, see Anointing.

Anointed is a Contemporary Christian music duo consisting of siblings Steve and Da'dra Crawford. Their musical style includes elements of R&B, funk, and piano ballads.
 king. He was, rather, the anointer a·noint  
tr.v. a·noint·ed, a·noint·ing, a·noints
1. To apply oil, ointment, or a similar substance to.

2. To put oil on during a religious ceremony as a sign of sanctification or consecration.

 of kings.

Samuel obeyed God's command to anoint a·noint  
tr.v. a·noint·ed, a·noint·ing, a·noints
1. To apply oil, ointment, or a similar substance to.

2. To put oil on during a religious ceremony as a sign of sanctification or consecration.

 a king for Israel despite his full knowledge that a king was not what Israel needed. Recall the words of 1 Samuel 8:
   But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to
   govern us." Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel,
   "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for
   they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being
   king over them.
   ... Now then, listen to their voice; only--you shall solemnly
   warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign
   over them." (28)

Samuel anointed Saul as king and was a constant presence with him, reminding him of the profoundness of the office he had undertaken. Saul made a number of missteps. In 1 Samuel 13, we read that Saul offered burnt offerings to the Lord before going into battle, rather than waiting for Samuel to arrive to make the offering. In 1 Samuel 14, Saul broke a solemn oath he had made because it would have meant the death of his son, Jonathan. And in chapter 15, Saul and his troops take spoil for themselves from the Amalekites after defeating them in battle-a violation of "the ban" ([GREEK CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. ]). Samuel is there in each instance to remind Saul of the limit of his kingly duties. Finally, in chapter 15 of 1 Samuel, we read:
   The word of the Lord came to Samuel: "I regret that I made Saul
   king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not
   carried out my commands." Samuel was angry; and cried out to the
   Lord all night.... Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with
   you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has
   rejected you from being king over Israel." As Samuel turned to
   go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore.
   And Samuel said to him, "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel
   from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours,
   who is better than you." (29)

And so David was David Was (born David Weiss, 26 October 1952, Detroit) is, with his stage-brother Don Was, the founder of the influential 1980s pop group, Was (Not Was).

Reviewed by The New York Times
 made king of Israel, and Samuel faded into the background of the story. Samuel, the son of Hannah, gave up his own vision for Israel in favor of the greater good of the community. Despite a rocky start and despite its ups and downs ups and downs  
Alternating periods of good and bad fortune or spirits.

ups and downs
Noun, pl

alternating periods of good and bad luck or high and low spirits
, the monarchy gave Israel a central focus for survival and identity for five hundred years of its history. Samuel laid the groundwork; others came after him to build the nation of Israel.

Might we picture John Richard Sampey in somewhat the same role? A child of the Civil War, standing in the gap between an old and a new America, entangled in an era of change in Baptist life in America, John Sampey acted as a catalyst for survival and identity. He established strong foundations for those who would follow after him. He served faithfully under the presidential administrations of James P. Boyce, John A. Broadus, William H. Whitsitt, Edgar Y. Mullins, and took on the presidency of the seminary after an age when many of us hope to retire. He taught and studied, he preached and evangelized, he traveled on the mission field, and he built relationships with colleges and universities. John Sampey helped to build a strong foundation for the future of Baptist scholars, preachers, and teachers.

In 1938, the John R. Sampey Chair of Old Testament Interpretation was established at Southern Seminary. Sampey himself was the first occupant of the chair. James Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac.
 Green held the position from 1943 to 1948, followed by Clyde Taylor Francisco, John Joseph Owens There are 2 people, both Roman Catholic priests, named Joseph Owens.
  • Joseph Owens (Jesuit), Caribbean social worker and author
  • Joseph Owens (Redemptorist) (1908-2005), Canadian scholar in medieval philosophy
, and Daniel I. Block.

Sampey's contributions to the scholarly and ecclesial Ec`cle´si`al

a. 1. Ecclesiastical.
 world have been discussed in this article and are referenced fully in the endnotes. I provide here a partial list of the contributions of the other occupants of the chair:

James Leo Green, God Reigns: Expository Studies in the Prophecy of Isaiah (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1968).

Clyde T. Francisco, Introducing the Old Testament: Based upon John R. Sampey's Syllabus (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950).

Clyde T. Francisco, Studies in Jeremiah (Nashville: Convention Press, 1961).

Clyde T. Francisco, The Book of Deuteronomy Noun 1. Book of Deuteronomy - the fifth book of the Old Testament; contains a second statement of Mosaic law

mezuza, mezuzah - religious texts from Deuteronomy inscribed on parchment and rolled up in a case that is attached to the doorframe of
: A Study Manual (Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, city (1990 pop. 189,126), seat of Kent co., SW central Mich., on the Grand River; inc. 1850. The second largest city in the state, it is a distribution, wholesale, and industrial center for an area that yields fruit, dairy products, farm produce, : Baker Books, 1964).

Clyde T. Francisco, Introducing the Old Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977).

John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1989-92).

Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Noun 1. Book of Ezekiel - an Old Testament book containing Ezekiel's prophecies of the downfall of Jerusalem and Judah and their subsequent restoration
Ezechiel, Ezekiel
. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977).

Daniel I. Block, Iudges, Ruth. The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Press, 1999).

Daniel I. Block, The Gods of the Nations (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000).

Can we suggest that John Richard Sampey, like Samuel, provided strong and prophetic shoulders on which his successors in Baptist life have stood? As an individual in a particular space and time, his contributions could seem insular insular /in·su·lar/ (-sdbobr-ler) pertaining to the insula or to an island, as the islands of Langerhans.

Of or being an isolated tissue or island of tissue.
 and parochial. But as a key participant in the larger picture of Baptist life in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, his indeed is a story worth telling. May we all cultivate broad shoulders, being always aware that others with keener minds may stand on them.

(1.) See Walter B. 8hurden, The Baptist Identity: Four Prugile Freedoms (Macon, Ga.: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, Inc., 1993). The Four Fragile Freedoms are: Bible Freedom, Soul Freedom, Church Freedom, and Religious Freedom.

(2.) See John R. Sampey, Memoirs of John R. Sampey (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1947), and Elsie Sampey Duggar, Laughing and Loving with John Richard Sampey (Tuscaloosa: Weatherford Printing Company, 1937).

(3.) Sampey, 6-7.

(4.) Ibid., 8.

(5.) Clyde T. Francisco, "John R. Sampey: Samuel Redivivus red·i·vi·vus  
Come back to life; revived: "defenders of the Imperial Presidency redivivus" Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
," and Expositor 63 0966): 459-68.

(6.) Ibid., 14.

(7.) Ibid., 23.

(8.) Ibid.

(9.) Duggar, 7.

(10.) Francisco, 460.

(11.) Sampey, Memoirs, 50.

(12.) William Williams William Williams may refer to:

Authors and artists

  • William Williams (artist) (1727-1791) — artist; author of first American novel, Penrose; father of William Joseph Williams.
 died in 1877; James Boyce in 1888; Basil Manly Jr. in 1892; and John Broadus in 1895.

(13.) For a full treatment of the controversy, see William A. Mueller, A History of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1959), 143-79.

(14.) Sampey, Memoirs, 84.

(15.) Ibid., 85.

(16.) John R. Sampey, Syllabus for Old Testament Study (Louisville: Baptist World Publishing Co., 1908), 3.

(17.) Sampey, Memoirs, 130.

(18.) Ibid., 131.

(19.) Mueller, 212.

(20.) Sampey, Memoirs, 56.

(21.) John R. Sampey, Ten Vital Messages (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1946).

(22.) M. E. Dodd, as quoted in Sampey, 235.

(23.) John R. Sampey, The International Lesson System: The History of Its Origin and Development (Nashville: Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1911), 118.

(24.) The American Standard Bible, otherwise known as the American Standard Version American Standard Version
n. Abbr. ASV
A revised version of the King James Bible published in the United States in 1901, incorporating renderings preferred by American scholars who had worked on the Revised Version.
, published in 1901, was the American version of the Revised Version Revised Version
A British and American revision of the King James Version of the Bible, completed in 1885.

Revised Version
, the English revision of the 1611 Authorized (King James) Version.

(25.) Sampey, Memoirs, 213.

(26.) Ibid., 50.

(27.) Francisco, 459-68.

(28.) 1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9,

(29.) 1 Samuel 15:10-11, 26-28.

Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford is associate professor of Old Testament and biblical languages at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia.
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Author:deClaisse-Walford, Nancy L.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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