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John Rainolds was born about 1549 at Pinhoe, near Exeter. He was the fifth son of Richard Rainolds; William Rainolds was his brother. His uncle Thomas Rainolds held the living of Pinhoe from 1530 to 1537 and was subsequently Warden of Merton College, Oxford, and Dean of Exeter. It appears John Rainolds entered the University of Oxford originally at Merton, but on 29 April 1563 was elected to a scholarship at Corpus Christi College, where two of his brothers, Hierome and Edmond, were already fellows. He became probationary fellow on 11 October 1566, and full fellow two years later. While a student at Corpus, he converted from Catholicism to Protestantism.
In 1572–73 Rainolds was appointed reader in Greek, and his lectures on Aristotle‘s Rhetoric made his reputation. In the early 1580s, in the aftermath of Edmund Campion‘s strenuous defense of Catholic principles, Francis Walsingham sent the Jesuit John Hart to Rainolds for an extended discussion. Hart conceded to Rainolds on the deposing power of the Pope, at least according to the Protestant perspective, and an account was published in The summe of the conference between John Rainolds and John Hart (1584). Unable to agree with the president of Corpus, William Cole, Rainolds gave up his fellowship in 1586 and became a tutor at Queen’s College. In the same year, Rainolds was appointed to a temporary lectureship, founded by Walsingham, for anti-Catholic polemical theology. In 1593 Rainolds was made dean of Lincoln College, Oxford, and/or of Lincoln Cathedral. In 1593 Rainolds was made dean of Lincoln College, Oxford, and/or of Lincoln Cathedral. And was elected president in December 1598.
The chief events of his subsequent career were his share in the Hampton Court Conference, where he was the most prominent representative of the Puritan party and received a good deal of favor from the King. During the Conference, the Puritans, led by Rainolds as spokesperson, directly questioned James about their grievances. At some point during Rainolds’ pleading before the king, Rainolds made a request that “one only translation of the Bible . . . [be] declared authentical, and read in the church”. James readily agreed to a new translation.
During the creation of the subsequent drafting of the new translation of the Bible, Rainolds worked as a part of the group which undertook the translation of the Prophets. The group met weekly in Rainolds’ lodgings in Corpus. Despite being afflicted by failing eyesight and gout, Rainolds continued the work of translation to the end of his life, even being carried into the meeting room. Rainolds died of consumption on 21 May 1607, leaving a great reputation for scholarship and high character.
- “Rainolds, John” . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Alister E. McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture (New York: Doubleday, 2001), p. 161
- Information retrieved from Wikipedia on 01/15/22
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