It was miracle of the first order by which I got the link with King’s College in London. It happened on the very same day that we went to the Hospital in London to admit our daughter in the cancer ward. Before I could think what to do about my thesis if I was to stay in England for another year, the Lord had arranged everything so beautifully that I could just sit and thank Him for His marvelous ways in our lives.
After admitting the child with Joyce in the hospital, Peter Grainger and I were on our way back to Wycliffe Centre. The hospital is at St.Paul’s and we took the underground train to reach Angel station from where we had to take another train for our destination. Underground stations are bustling with people that you are often dragged along with the crowd. Often it is so very busy. That afternoon at Angel Station I met Mr. Robin Thomson who was one of my teachers at HBI!! He had a personal interest in me always. When he met me there, he was so surprised because he knew my stand about going abroad for studies. We spent a few minutes in the station and I said I was doing an SIL course then and child was admitted for cancer. I said I wrote my M.Th. exam and I was waiting for results. I also said I did not know what to do for my thesis.
From the station immediately Mr. Thomson took us to King’s College where he was a former student. Prof. Ackroyd was known to him and we got an appointment with the professor in that very after noon. And Prof. Ackroyd knew me by name for he had given me admission for M.A. in OT at King’s College through Mr. Thomson. But I did not avail that opportunity. Now it was my turn to work with this world famous professor for my thesis. Professor Ackroyd decided to take me as his private student as he said fees for foreign students were very high and that formalities would take time. It was very kind of him to have given me two hours every week when I could call on him and discuss details of my thesis.
Prof. Ackroyd has liberal persuasions when it comes to authorship of the books of the Bible. For example he would argue that the Pentateuch came to be written down and received its present shape in the exilic period. In his book Exile and Restoration he has argued that way. I argue for a Mosaic authorship for Pentateuch. Like wise according to him the books of the prophets did not come from one man whose name the title has, but came to us with lots of later additions, emendations etc. My thesis was form prophets. I had to deal with Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Critical scholars had butchered Isaiah and Daniel while Jeremiah and Ezekiel barely survived under them. It was my turn to work with such a world renown person!
I began by saying that biblical writings were tribal literature. We deal with modern tribal languages and literature in present day Linguistics. So present day Linguistics can offer a lot of help in trying to understand and analyze ancient tribal literature which is the Bible. From Linguistics I began to show that change of tense, change of mood, change of vantage point, etc. are essential part of tribal literature and we must find the same in the Bible also. Of course these are the very criteria used by liberal scholars to show that the text emerged from various sources.
So using present day Linguistic categories I analyzed twenty chapters in Hebrew from three prophets and sustained my argument. Though at first he went along with me only on sympathy ground, later he accepted my view point and in one of my last interviews with Prof.Ackroyd, he said, “Mr. Paul, I am willing to be persuaded by your position”.
I thank the Lord for the generosity of that great man without which I would not have been able to finish my thesis. To do an M.Th. from Serampore, specially in OT, one will have to sweat blood which I did and if the thesis is not accepted all efforts are in vain.