Today is Founder’s Day at Tyndale House Publishers. We are so thankful for the amazing legacy that Ken Taylor left for us not only as a company but as men and women who are children of God. The following is an excerpt from his journal just prior to the publishing of Living Letters. Please pray for us as we carry on the mission God first placed in the heart of Ken Taylor.
April 11, 1962
“Now, after the last seven years of rather intensive use of ‘non-working hours’—vacations, evenings, commuting—and after seven major revisions, a paraphrase of the NT epistles is ready and at the printers. In an earlier edition of the manuscript (on Romans) Harpers tentatively accepted it, then were advised that evangelicals would not buy a paraphrase, so dropped it. At that time, before they were considering it, I prayed heartily for guidance as to whether to send it to them, give it to Moody Press, even publish it privately, etc., and then decided to try Harper—and if they accepted or rejected it to be guided onward accordingly. . . .
Perhaps a word should be said here about my purpose and reason for writing this paraphrase. It is because of my ever-present difficulty in gleaning much from the epistles because the meaning of the writers does not flow into my mind and heart. It is often concealed, this river of life, beneath a hard crust of terminology that is technical and of logic that is not always evident, and of seemingly disjointed comments that are really parts of a sequential thought. I realize that this explanation would be vague and inadequate to those who love the Greek, the King James or the RSV, but none of these are free from many blocks and stoppages.
Three-quarters of the expository sermons, SS lessons and commentaries, I believe, are to explain what the writers mean by what they are saying, by the words they have used. A paraphrase tries to expose this meaning, extracting it from the words. What they meant was very clear to them, but sometimes for me they do not speak clearly, and after finally understanding, I have re-said it in a way that makes it clear to me, that is, I have paraphrased it. It seems like people usually don’t enjoy the epistles much, because they find them “hard going”—hard to understand without digging through the wording. This is still true with modern translations, for the thought and sequence often remain obscure or too complex and intense, as in much of Romans.
For those who will study it enough to get the meaning there is no problem. But many new Bible readers don’t do this. I hope the paraphrase will help them, or at least as an introduction to what the apostles were saying. How it could radically change lives if people read the epistles with ease and understanding. When one gets through to the meaning, it is simple enough, and usually this getting through is not really as hard as it may seem. But too few people get into it, and their lives are immeasurably impoverished because it looks hard or they lose track of the main ideas while digging nuggets here or there . . . Does this need to be? A new application, yes, but why not get all the thoughts out into the open rather than having to ‘discover’ them?”
Excerpt from Ken Taylor’s journal written in 1962-64. The entry is dated April 11, 1962. This was three months before the publication of Living Letters, the event that marked the beginning of Tyndale House Publishers. At this time, Ken was the director of Moody Press in Chicago.