Frederick Fyvie Bruce: An Appreciation -- By: Laurel and Ward Gasque

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 23:0 (NA 1991)
Article: Frederick Fyvie Bruce: An Appreciation
Author: Laurel and Ward Gasque

Frederick Fyvie Bruce: An Appreciation

Laurel and Ward Gasque

Laurel Gasque is a cultural historian and writer. W. Ward Gasque is provost and professor of Biblical studies and Eastern College and Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, Oxford, England.

A month short of his eightieth birthday, our dear friend and mentor, Professor F. F. Bruce, was called to his reward. We in concert with hundreds of his personal friends and thousands of those who knew him through his many writings, will miss him dearly. Truly we — not just the two of us, but the whole community of faith — have reached the end of an era! The greatest Bible scholar of our age has left us to join the ranks of the church triumphant.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce, affectionately known as “FFB,” was born 12 October 1910 in Elgin, Scotland, into a devout home. His father, Peter Bruce, was an evangelist among the Christian (Plymouth) Brethren. His mother, whose name we never learned, was, presumably, his helper in the ministry and a source of strength to her children. From his childhood he possesed a love of the Bible and languages that would go with him throughout his life.

While other children were out playing games, he was home outlining the chronology of the kings of ancient Israel and Judah in chart form and studying his Latin and Greek. Both endeavours were to pay rich dividends in subsequent years as he was to achieve academic and literary success.

His years as a school boy and student were marked by numerous acknowledgments of his intellectual gifts. He was the Gold Medallist in Greek and Latin and Fullerton Scholar in Classics at the Elgin Academy (1932), Ferguson Scholar in Classics (1933) and Croom Robertson Fellow (1932–34) at the University of Aberdeen, recipient of the Sandys Studentship at Cambridge University (1934–35), where he graduated at the top of his class. When he was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Aberdeen University in 1957, the comment was made that he had brought more honour to his alma mater than any other person who had pursued an academic career in the preceding fifty years — and this was near the beginning of his fame.

As is well known, FFB started out as a classical scholar. Following a stint as a research student in Indo-European philology at the University of Vienna, he taught Greek at Edinburgh (1935–38) and Leeds (1938–47) universities. When he was called to become the Head of the newly founded Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield, which he served from 1947 until 1959, it was made clear to him that one of the reasons the committee was attracted to him was that he was neither a clergyman nor a theologian and that, therefore, he could be coun...

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