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ETBU celebrates 500 years of Reformation

October 19, 2017

East Texas Baptist University will host Here I Stand, a series of events held in honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his theses to the door of the Castle Church. Sola Scriptura: A Bible Exhibition will be on display in the Jarrett Library on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning Monday, October 23 through Wednesday, November 1. The display will feature three Bibles including the Coverdale Bible (1535), the Geneva Bible (1610), and the King James Authorized Version (1611). The exhibition also contained copies of the Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563), The Whole Works of W. Tyndall, Frith, and Barnes (1574), and The Church History of Britain by Thomas Fuller (1655). 

The pieces on display represent the collective movement of the Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther. Miles Coverdale was compelled by the belief that all deserved personal access to Scripture, despite his own lack of training in Biblical languages. He consulted five different translations by Tyndale, Luther, Zurich, Vulgate, and Pagnini to complete the first Old Testament and New Testament in English. 

Although reformers were heavily persecuted under the reign of Mary Tudor, William Whittingham and John Knox partnered as exiles to publish the first English Geneva Bible. The translation on display includes the Apocrypha, which is not always included in Geneva Bibles.

As a reaction to the release of the Geneva Bible, King James chose 47 scholars to compile the Authorized Version, or the King James Version. The translation excluded annotations to avoid promoting specific schools of thought that could offend readers. 

While exiled from England, John Foxe served as a preacher to refugees and began documenting the historical events surrounding the persecuted Christians. His collection was published as Foxe's Book of Martyrs after the death of Queen Mary. 

The Whole Works of W. Tyndall, Frith, and Barnes presents the writings of some of the most the important figures of the English Reformation and Western history as a whole. Tyndall's translation of the Bible was the first complete English Bible to be translated directly from the Greek and Hebrew texts. With the timely invention of the printing press, the Tyndale Bible was also the first mass produced English Bible, making Scripture accessible to commoners for the first time in history. Also contained in this work are the writings of John Frith. In addition to his own writings, Frith helped Tyndale in his translation efforts. Frith was burned at the stake for heresy due to these activities in 1533. Lastly, the works of Dr. Robert Barnes, early reformer and activist are included. Barnes began his work in the Reformation with his 1525 Christmas Eve sermon attacking what he believed was a corrupt clergy. History records his final statements as a profession of his protestant faith before he was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1540.

Thomas Fuller, an English churchman and historian, completed The Church History of Britain, a seven volume account from the birth of Christ until the year 1648. Fuller is remembered as one of the most prolific authors of the seventeenth century. As he is known for gathering facts from original sources, his writings provide valuable antiquarian information. 

The exhibition of these rare and historic texts is intended to serve as a reminder to the Tiger Family and Marshall community of the significant role believers have in the Church. All of the pieces on display except the Geneva Bible, which is owned by East Texas Baptist, are on loan from the Lance Fenton Private Collection.