MEMPHIS, TN – Dr. Larry Lee Walker passed away on March 8, 2021. His name is probably not familiar to most Bible-believers, but many of us are beneficiaries of a portion of his life’s work.
Larry Walker was the last living scholar and translator from the team that produced the original New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. His work on the NIV was probably his most notable, but it was certainly not his sole contribution defending and preserving Biblical accuracy.
Walker was an original signer of the Chicago Statement on Bible Inerrancy, along with other notable Bible scholars such as Norman Geisler, James M. Boice, W. Robert Godfrey, John Woodbridge, John MacArthur, Hal Lindsey, Charles C, Ryrie, Henry Morris, Jack Hayford, James I. Packer, Bill Bright, and R.C. Sproul.
Degrees in Bible from Bob Jones University, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Wheaton College prepared him for a Ph.D. at Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. His education and eventual expertise in the Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, and Ugaritic languages became the bedrock upon which he based his belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures.
He firmly stood his ground against the onslaught of the movement of “higher criticism” that held to an elitist position that attacked the accuracy and the applicability of the Bible in the 20th century. He was able to successfully denounce critics with the illumination he gained from his hours and years of in-depth study and analysis with statements like,
“The founders of higher criticism were totally ignorant of such important ancient cognate languages as Ugaritic and Akkadian—not to mention such non-Semitic languages as Egyptian, Hittite, Hurrian, [and] Sumerian. … Words once claimed to be [added to the text later] are now attested in the early Canaanite source materials from Ugarit; syntactical features of Hebrew poetry once labeled incorrect are now attested in the poetry of Ugaritic.”
While that statement – or any other – failed to quell the higher criticism movement in its attacks on the Scriptures, it did help to demonstrate Walker’s position on Biblical inerrancy and accuracy in translation. It would also become crucial during the production of the NIV when the translators were wrongly accused of various intentions to lean away from accuracy and toward more liberal translations.
His son, Daniel, told Christianity Today that
“He had a full-time job at the seminary, as a seminary professor. And then he’d come home at night, and he’d work all night on the NIV. He spent his whole life in the Word. This is just what he did.”
Although he shares credit with many others for producing the NIV, it should be an assurance that this man, Dr. Larry Walker, a staunch advocate for accuracy with a firm foundation in ancient languages and with a passion for the Lord and His Word, was a leading and distinguished contributor to bringing the NIV to the public.
- Christianity Today, Died: Larry Walker, NIV Translator Who Loved Bible Details
- Bible Researcher, The NIV Committee on Bible Translation
- Legacy, Dr. Larry Lee Walker