Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Legacy of F.F. Bruce

Furthermore, in his methodology, he practiced a high degree of objectivity at a period when this was still sought and prized as the scholarly ideal. That objectivity was rooted in his conviction that all truth was God's truth, which made him open to receive truth from wherever it came. He did not fit the caricature of the ignorant and narrow-minded fundamentalist which most people expected a member of the Brethren to be, but learned from and related to scholars of all persuasions. As he put it, 'I have sometimes learned most from scholars with whom I have agreed least: they compel one to think, and rethink'(1). He was the least defensive person imaginable, secure in his own faith, never attributing unworthy motives to those with whom he disagreed, and won respect from many for his willingness to argue on the basis of the evidence rather than adopting a party line(2).

In conclusion, we could view Bruce as a 'believing critic', and his sympathy for William Robertson Smith tends to confirm this(3). Perhaps too he was a popularizer of scholarly work, in the best sense of the word. but I would suggest that the most important way to regard him is as a teacher who sought to use his gifts to build up the church and to offer a credible account of the sources on which the Christian faith is founded; David Hubbard, who was president of Fuller Seminary, testified to how Bruce's 'blend of learnedness, clarity, diligence, even-handedness, and devotion to the gospel' had influenced him during the 1960s(4). And Bruce taught not only by his words and writings, but by his life. For that life, many continue to give thanks.
F.F. Bruce, a Life by Tim Grass, pgs226-7.

A life I wish I had known, but I believe that his example offers much to me personally. Hopefully I can be as such as he was.



1. The Epistle to the Colossians, To Philemon and to the Ephesians, pg. xii.

2. IR, pg172-3. Various personal confirmations as well.

3. e.g. F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture.

4. David A. Hubbard, 'Evangelicals and Biblical Scholarship, 1945-1992: An Anecdotal Commentary', Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 (1993): PP. 1-16

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