Barclay Of Formosa ( Review )


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Macmillan, Hugh

 Presbyterian Record, 1937 December (Vol.62,no.12) p.212-213

 “Barclay of Formosa’ is the story of a foreign missionary told by a colleague on the field. It is the chatty sort of tale one would enjoy best sitting in an easy chair by the fireside after a long and strenuous day’s work.

The book is largely made up of quotations from Dr. Barclay himself but told as if the author remembered rather than copied them. This is understandable when one remembers the author’s many years association with his senior colleague.

Edward Band’s conversational style you will greatly enjoy. Whether old or young, interested in “missions” or not interested in missions, there is something in this story that will hold your interested attention to the closing words on the middle of page 205,”Barclay is out! After an innings of eighty-six, and every bit of it cricket! Let the next man get his pads on,”

The story begins in Glasgow, Scotland; it ends in Tainan, Formosa, Japan. It begins with Tom Barclay, the boy, at home and at school in Glasgow in the eighteen-fifty’s. It ends with the passing of Dr. Thomas Barclay in 1935 in Tainan, the much loved Pa Bok-su of the young, growing church in Formosa.

In picking up this “missionary” book do not expect pulpit language that the pew cannot understand. And do not get ready for the life story of one who lived in another realm quite apart from men of our every day world. Mr. Band’s story is of one who, while not unworthy of the term “saint’, always enjoyed being amongst ordinary  “sinners’. The book abound in illustrations of this. Who but a saint would as a youth of sixteen dedicate his life to God and then sign the written dedication every day on his birthday till his death, seventy years later?

The author does not forget Barclay the mathematician to whom, as a student, Sir Wm. Thompson committed “the measurement of the inductive capacity of dielectrics” and who, in his 85th year, “beguiled the tedium of the railway journey by reading a treatise on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity” Nor does he forget the linguist who gave to the Amoy-speaking Chinese a revised translation of the New Testament from the Greek and in 1933 finished a new translation of the Old Testament into the same language from the Hebrew, but as this story-telling time is short, he deals briefly with these subjects. In, as it were, a couple of hours by the fire-side he tells of one whose chief purpose was to preach and teach the Gospel to people in lands far away and establish the church of Jesus Christ among them. This was Barclay’s life work.    MacMillan 


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