Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Should You Pronounce J. Gresham Machen’s Middle Name?

John Gresham Machen (1881–1937) is a famous NT scholar who departed the theologically liberal Princeton Seminary and took the lead in forming Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

People often mispronounce Machen’s middle name:

  • Incorrect: GRESH-ahm
  • Correct: GRESS-ahm


  • Ned Stonehouse’s biography of Machen explains, “The name J. Gresham Machen, and especially the maternal family name Gresham, is frequently mispronounced. At the request of the publisher of The Literary Digest, Machen wrote at some length on the subject, and on the background of this information the magazine in its issue of July 14, 1934 carried the following key over the name of the lexicographer Frank H. Vizetelly: ‘gress’ am, not gresh’ ammay’ chen, not may’ ken.’ The chief pitfall in the pronouncing of the name, as Machen said, is in the drawing of the ‘s‘ and ‘h’ together in Gresham. The ‘h’ is silent as in ‘Markham’ or Badham’” (p. 511).
  • William Edgar and Scott Oliphint, two current Westminster professors, edited a book in which they write, “John Gresham (pronounced ‘Gressam’)” (p. 2:435).

Related: John Piper engagingly tells Machen’s story:

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