Dr. Jack P. Lewis was honored March 6 at a dinner hosted by Faulkner University, Montgomery, Alabama, during their annual Bible lectureship. I was pleased that I could attend the lectures one day and be present for the dinner honoring Dr. Lewis.
Lewis is Professor Emeritus at the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. Among several good teachers that I had, Lewis was unique. He holds two earned doctorates, a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Hebrew Union. He was the most demanding teacher I had, and one of a few from whom I learned the most.
After the high school years at Athens Bible School, and four years of Bible at Florida Christian College (now Florida College), with teachers such as Homer Hailey, I had a good general knowledge of the Bible. I think I had about 60 hours of Bible at FCC. The graduate work was not too difficult, it was just on a higher level.
It was part of the graduate program generally, but Lewis taught the importance of using primary sources where possible and the importance of thorough preparation. He entered the class room, called the roll, and began lecturing. As a student I made notes the best I could, then spent hours after each class verifying the names, dates, and facts presented. Different from the students I had in college, we would never imagine asking “How do you spell that?” He taught us the importance of using up-to-date sources in our research.
Jack Lewis was my first teacher who had spent a considerable amount of time studying the land of the Bible. He had worked in the archaeological excavation at Arad, and had spent a year as a fellow at the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (now the Albright Institute).
In one of the classes with Dr. Lewis I did a paper on “Authentic First Century Remains in Palestine.” Soon afterward I began to prepare for my own visit to the Bible lands. I might have gone anyway, but I must credit Dr. Lewis, and his unique insight into the land of the Bible, for spurring my interest in traveling to this part of the world. The other day, as we visited, he said something like this: “There is nothing as valuable as seeing the places you study about.” So, now you know one of the major motivations in my travels to Bible lands over all these years since the first trip in 1967. I still learn on every trip, and in the preparation for the trip.
Dr. Lewis is a prolific writer. His many books included The History of the English Bible from the KJV to the NIV, The Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature, Historical Backgrounds to Bible People, a two volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. There are also books on the prophets and other areas of biblical studies.
Several Faulkner faculty members spoke of what Lewis had meant to them. These included Dr. Cecil May, Jr., Dr. Carl Cheatham, and Dr. Ed Hicks. Dr. Jim Howard, from Memphis, was also on the program. Carl and Jim were at HGSR when I was there. Cecil and I spoke on the same topic at both the Nashville and Dallas meetings of institutional and non-institutional brethren a few years back. It was a pleasure to see them.
In the afternoon, Dr. Lewis had presented a lecture on “The Battle for the Integrity of the Bible.” In his typical rapid-fire manner, he surveyed the battles that have been won in demonstrating the integrity of the Bible. It was just a survey, but he seemed as sharp as in those classes on The History of the English Bible and on Archaeology and the Bible from which I profited so much.
Today Dr. Jack Pearl Lewis is 89 years old. Happy birthday, Dr. Lewis.
This photo was made March 6 after the lecture on “The Battle for the Integrity of the Bible.”