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The Rev LÜ Chen Chung

Doctor of Divinity
honoris causa

Mr Chancellor,

 LÜ Chen Chung graduated from this University in 1922. He went to Yenching University to study Greek and Hebrew and then taught for fourteen years at the South Fukien Theological College in Amoy. After a further period of study at the Union Theological Seminary in New York and at Westminster College in England he was ordained in 1948 for work in China. Since then he has not participated actively in Church affairs and by his own admission has preached only twice. He has avoided social activities and has walked apart from the crowd. Yet we are here this evening to mark his progress on a pilgrimage of the spirit and of the mind as exacting and as rewarding as that of any man. For over thirty years he has made his solitary way through one of the lonelier realms of human enterprise. He has given the greater part of his life to translating the Bible into Chinese. This noble purpose in the great tradition of scriptural and theological studies places him in the ranks of Marshman and Morrison, of Wu Ching Hsiung and Hsiao Tieh Te. Admirable as is the work of his distinguished predecessors and colleagues, yet the Reverend Lü's achievement remains unique. Others have worked with helpers or in teams, or have worked under the supervision of European scholars, translating parts of the Bible. At a time of rapid change in the linguistic habits of the Chinese people he has satisfied the long felt need for a fresh translation done by Chinese scholars with a knowledge of the Biblical languages. He has applied himself single-handedly to both the Old and New Testaments: he is the first Chinese to translate the whole Bible into the vernacular. He has reached back into the ancient past and has traced and retraced old paths pondering the perplexities of Greek and Hebrew texts. Single-handed but indomitable he has fought the battle of the translations, making his sure journey through the conflicting and contending fields of linguistics, history, philosophy, and religion. The marshalled ranks of King James's men, confidently grouped under their Authorised standards, and the close ordered Union ranks, have been met and dispersed on their own ground. He has scorned sensuous delights and lived laborious days. He has overcome all pitfalls, snares, the clamours of war, and his own physical infirmities. Like Bunyan's Christian he has gone steadily forward with infinite patience and courage through the valleys of doubt, despondency, and despair that every scholar of quality must encounter before he hears the trumpets sounding triumphantly as he reaches the Promised Land. As a result, the splendour of Revelations, the haunting beauty of the Songs of Solomon and the moving simplicity of the Sermon on the Mount are set within a framework of ideas and terms entirely relevant to his contemporaries, in language that can be heard and understood.

Mr Chancellor, it is not easy to comprehend the immensity of the task or appreciate the vast scope of this achievement. The flash of perception and the joy of fulfilment illuminate the vigorous subjection of the self to service and the long discipline of the mind. The work which is now finished is a milestone in Biblical scholarship. In recognition of this I ask you to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity on one who may well deserve the blessed accolade: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant".

Citation written and delivered by Professor Leonard Kenneth Young, BA, MA, DPHIL, the Public Orator of the University.

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