One of those who was disturbed by the implications of the London Polyglot (catalogue no.73 ), and by Walton’s defence of the work in both his Introductio and in the prolegomena to the Bible, was John Owen (1616–83). Owen was the leading minister among the congregationalists of the mid-seventeenth century and was appointed as Dean of Christ Church by the Parliamentarian Visitors of Oxford University. He was also closely involved in discussions about the revision of the English translation of the Bible which were going on in the 1650s, and deeply disturbed by contemporary expressions of heretical ideas about scripture, in particular those of the Socinians.
Owen believed that critics who denied the peculiar perfection of scripture were agents of ‘the Synagogue of Rome’ (sig.*2verso), who cast doubt on the clarity and meaning of the Bible, by suggesting that tradition was necessary for its interpretation. He was aware that many of Walton’s precursors had been Catholics, and that elements of Walton’s case rested on suggestions made by contemporary Jewish writers. Using arguments drawn in part from Buxtorf (catalogue no.74), he defended the integrity of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments, and asserted the antiquity of the Hebrew vowel points. Nevertheless, as Owen’s attacks on Socinian authors demonstrated, his work tried to establish sound principles for biblical interpretation, not to assert a simplistic reading of the text. It demonstrated the vitality and complexity of the literalist tradition among seventeenth-century Protestants, and the absence of any scholarly consensus for replacing it.