Faithful Friday: George Abbot

By Caroline Liberatore

George Abbot, historically known as Archbishop of Canterbury, was born in 1562 in the humble town of Guildford, England. Abbot studied at Oxford, where he demonstrated academic excellence in intense theological study, obtaining his B.A., M.A., B.D., and D.D. within fifteen years. During his time at Oxford, Abbot drew scholarly and popular attention for his spoken sermons and published books, which were infused with his tartly puritanical theology. Abbot quickly became a choice candidate for a variety of leadership roles at Oxford, and it would not be long until his theological prowess would propel him to even greater spheres of influence.

In 1604, King James I asserted that a more uniform and accurate translation of the Holy Bible was necessary for the Church of England. Abbot, who had gained the attention of Archbishop Bancroft and the king, was appointed as one of the translators of the King James Bible. Abbot collaborated with a conglomerate of pastors and scholars in translating the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation with precision. During this time, Abbot began to accumulate significant favor with King James I as he sought to fulfill a variety of ecclesial and political needs. Abbot’s commitment to England and its church established him as the king’s first choice for a variety of bishop positions until he was, at last, designated as Archbishop of Canterbury.

As expected, Abbot approached this esteemed role with tenacity and exactitude. Although he often received pushback for his views, he proved to be a force of truth and correction as he aimed to cultivate precise theology. During his time as archbishop, he established a hospital in Guildford for those of the lower class and continued to demonstrate subtle acts of ministry. While Abbot’s breadth of influence as archbishop waned after the death of King James I, he continued to serve faithfully until his death in 1633.

May we, as George Abbot, be faithful to propagate the truth of the gospel and be provoked by it to good service.


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