Owen, John Jason Dd, Lld
Owen, John Jason D.D., LL.D., a noted American Biblical scholar and educator, was born at Colbrook, Conn., August, 1803. While very young, although surrounded by unfavorable circumstances he devoted himself earnestly to study, more particularly with a view to the mastery of the ancient languages. His early life, especially, was characterized by remarkable perseverance. Without aid, except that furnished by his own mind, he undertook the study of Greek, and it is noteworthy that difficulties which seem as if they could not be successfully encountered even with the aid of an instructor he met and conquered solely by the power of his will. His preparations for the academical course he began under the tutorship of the Rev. Dr. Elisha Yale, of Kingsborough, N. Y., to which place his parents removed about that time. Shortly afterwards he went to Middlebury College, and graduated in 1831. He then entered the theological seminary at Andover, Mass. After spending the requisite time in the last-named institution, he became a minister of the Presbyterian Church, to which body he rendered very efficient and valuable services. Though he never accepted the pastorate of any congregation, he was accustomed to preach from time to time in the different churches throughout New York, in which city he had taken up his residence after graduation, or wherever else he might be spending his time. He was a very prominent member of the New York Educational Society, and also of the Young Men's Educational Society, and under his private and more public instruction many young men have become qualified for the ministry of different religious denominations. At the opening of the Cornelius Institute he became its principal. While there he edited his Xenophon's Anabasis, which was the first Greek text-book with English notes that was published in the United States. Under his direction also were published a Greek Reader. Xenophon's Cyropoedia, the Odyssey and Iliad of Homer, and Thucydides. These books attracted considerable attention and scrutiny, and were warmly welcomed by all scholars. Prof. L. Schmitz himself a celebrated Greek scholar, wrote to Owen from Edinburgh, in 1850, congratulating him on his success as a translator. It was a frequent regret of Prof. Owen's that the Greek language is too exclusively studied in schools from classical sources; and to remedy this defect he edited the Acts of the Apostles in the original for students, appending a lexicon for the same purpose (N. Y. 1850, 12mo). His most extensive literary undertaking was his Commentaries on the Gospels, the first volume of which appeared in 1857. Two volumes have since been printed, and manuscript for a third was in readiness for the printer at the time of his death, and-was afterwards published. The three volumes are entitled A Commentary, Critical, Expository, and Practical, on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and the Acts (N.Y. 1869, and often, 12mo). This work deservedly ranks among the very best for popular use which the scholarship of our country has produced. It is lucid, thorough, and evangelical. It meets fairly and fully every difficulty which arises. There is no parade of learning in it, but the results of extended reading and a careful and thorough independent investigation are given. The critical part of the work is beyond all doubt as ably and satisfactorily performed as in any similar American or English work. In the year 1848 Dr. Owen resigned his position in the Institute in order to take the chair of professor of ancient languages in the New York Free Academy, of which he became vice- principal. In the year 1866, the name of the institution being changed to that of College of the City of New York, he became vicepresident of the faculty; and in this sphere he worked faithfully until about two weeks before his death, which occurred on Sunday, April 18,1869. Dr. Adams conducted the funeral services. The presence of a large number of eminent clergymen, the most learned men and prominent citizens of the United States, indicated the position obtained by the deceased. As a scholar he was well known and highly esteemed by the learned men of England, Scotland, and America. He ranked as one of our best Greek scholars and most industrious of commentators. As a Christian, all who came in contact with him felt the influence of his holy life, and could not but recognize in him the love of that Savior he endeavored to persuade others to follow. As an instructor, he was faithful, sympathizing, and kind almost to a fault. As a man, he was genial in his temper, earnest in his endeavors, and won the love. of a large circle of New York's most distinguished residents.