King James Bible Translators
Personal and Family Life
Little is known of the family and background of Ralph Ravens. He appears to have been born in London about 1557. His early education was in London before being admitted as a university student at Oxford. Ravens spent many years at Oxford as a student and office holder in his college. Eventually, he received ecclesiastical appointments which occupied a significant portion of the rest of his life. It is unknown whether he ever married or had children as no records of such have been found. A Ralph Ravens married an Avis Jennings in London in 1603 which could have been the Translator or a son.
Ralph Ravens died in his parish of Great Easton, Essex in 1616 and is likely buried there.
Ralph Ravens was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, London from age fourteen. At Merchant Taylors' under legendary schoolmaster, Richard Mulcaster, Ravens became grounded in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He became a student at St. John's College, Oxford four years later in 1575 at age eighteen. He graduated B.A. in 1579, proceeded M.A. in 1583, B.D. in 1589 and D.D. in 1596.
Ralph Ravens served in academic offices at his college soon after becoming a student. He served as a fellow at St. John's and was subsequently a "rhetoric reader" for nineteen years.
Ravens was ordained a deacon and priest in 1587. Thereafter, he became vicar of Kirtlington, Oxfordshire (1591), Great Dunmow, Essex (1597), and rector of Great Easton (1605).
Ralph Ravens and the Translation
Ralph Ravens was a member of the Second Oxford Company of Translators. Their company was assigned the Gospels, Acts, and book of Revelation. The role that Ravens performed in the project has been a matter of dispute with some arguing he put aside his translating duties early and was replaced by Leonard Hutten or John Aglionby. This conclusion is lacking in historical support. What is sure, is Ralph Ravens appears on early lists of Translators and was consistently mentioned thereafter as one of them. He certainly had the academic background and scholarship to have been a valued member of the company and, absent additional evidence to the contrary, should be regarded as such.