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Memoirs of Dr. Johnson C. Philip

Systematic Theology: The Birth of a Classic 006

SysThe_01The actual writing of the Systematic Theology book started in December 1996. The publisher gave us 12 months to complete the project, and all of us got  heavily involved into the project with the deadline in mind. This was no easy task, but the team had an unusual determination.

Saneesh and Shibu would pay full attention to their classroom studies during day and would complete all their academic assignments during library hours and in the evenings. This way they were able to maintain their high grades during their BTh studies. Both of them were judged as exceptionally meritorious students by their teachers.

They divided the work of writing the book among themselves in a special way. One of them would go to bed early and the other one would write till midnight. Then he would go to bed and the first one would get up and continue with his portion of the work. Both of them had special permission from the principal to do this on condition that this should not affect their academic studies and their spiritual life. Both of them took full care of these things.

writing a systematic theology in the Malayalam language from scratch was no joke. It involved so much mental and physical labour that both of them started tiring out very soon. I consulted a doctor who said that at their age and in their physical condition they were fully competent to carry this much of workload and said that the tiredness was mainly the result of certain deficiencies for which the doctor prescribed certain tonics. I immediately purchased these tonics and gave them and within a week they were able to carry all this workload without any problem. Special snacks and other eatables were also made available to the entire team. Vast amount of writing paper was also made available.

Each day they would read to me what they had written the previous night and I would offer corrections which they would do in the margins. They would then hand over these to the scribes who would prepare neatly written copies with these corrections taken into consideration. These would then be read to me a second time. After my approval of the second draft, these manuscripts were given to the consultants for crosschecking. Once the work started, KV John opted out and decided not to help us. However, out of respect to him, his name was retained on the final copy of our book. Dr KC Johnson and Dr Silas Nair were consulted as and when needed because they were at that time not readily available on the campus. Since EK George used to spend a lot of time at BBI campus, the majority of the manuscript was read, commented upon, and corrected by him. This corrected and a script was once again read to me and final corrections were made as per my suggestions. The scribes would then prepare the final copy.

Though it was a massive task, and though no one believed that we would be able to complete the work in 12 months, the team completed the work in a surprising nine months and handed it over to the publisher. In fact, each portion was handed over as it was finalised. the work that started in December 1996 came to completion in August 1997 to the surprise of everyone including the team that produced it. It actually took one round of writing, two rounds of corrections by the writers, and two rounds of corrections by the consultants, and four rounds of approval by me, for the manuscript to be finalised. in between this resulted in at least six are rewriting of the manuscript by the scribes. to the surprise of the whole world, the book was out in the market in November 1997. That turned out to be a milestone as well as an unusual historical moment in the history of systematic theology in the Malayalam language.

SysThe_In_01

The inside page. The names of the writers are given in the order of their age, as per Indian customs, not as per the importance of their contributions. 

The publisher was flooded with purchase orders, and though an average book in Malayalam with a print run of 1000 copies took five years to sell out, the 3000 copies of this book were completely sold out  in three months and buyers were still demanding for copies. The publisher very soon came up print-run of 3000 copies and even that stock was exhausted faster than they expected.

Great things do not happen by themselves. They are the result of blood, sweat, tears, and teamwork — when visionaries get into the act. The 800 page systematic theology in the Malayalam language proved it once again. It not only gave a substantial and authoritative book to the people of Kerala, but it also opened the way for scholarly books of very large sizes in the Malayalam language. Till then most publishers of Christian literature in the Malayalam language were of the opinion that there is no scope for books larger than 200 to 400 Pages in the Malayalam language. However this book paved the way for books that are 800 pages or longer. our subsequent books were an A4 size Christian Apologetics of 800 pages, New Dictionary of Theology of close to 1600 pages, and Bible Encyclopaedia of around 3000 pages. We thank God for kindling that vision in our hearts. Saneesh and Shibu shall always be remembered for that shocking request they brought to me at BBI which set this unbelievable process in motion.

The next milestone in our Ministry  was when Dr Anand Philip asked me to make all our books free and to release them in creative comments Copyright. The results of this suggestion were staggering, and that is another story which I will narrate in another  one of my memoirs. [Concluded]

 

 

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3 Comments

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  1. Tennison Kalayathinal

    plz send me a systamatic theology book, if u can

  2. sir i need more books and magazine by postal address for free of costin tamil,malayalam and english.Rajesh.R,Opp.PRN hospital,426/20 feetroad,Peramanur,salem,TN,India.pin 636007,

  3. McKay Whisenhunt III

    Johnson, just an amazing story, Systematic Theology in Malayalam. I am an American and not in India so I had no knowledge of the Indian peoples sense of you from your preaching and publishing. Your work with and faith in your students and God were fascinating. What a blessing to me as I begin my work with your writing course. God bless!

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