Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 11:3 (Fall 1970)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Sir William A. Ramsay. By W. Ward Gasque. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1966, $1.50. 95 pp.

Gasque’s brief, tasteless biography of Sir William M. Ramsay disappoints this reviewer. A scholar of Ramsay’s magnitude deserves a life history displaying his human qualities and the intellectual merit of his discoveries.

Gasque sketches three of Ramsay’s main works: Luke the Historian, Paul the Missionary Statesman, The Seven Churches of Asia.

Gasque’s explanations of how Ramsay collected and studied historical data preparatory to writing his famous works uncover a scholar meticulous in method and astute in arriving at conclusions. The way Ramsay arrived at answers to knotty New Testament problems is carefully described by Gasque in a manner that makes Ramsay’s works easier to appreciate.

Actually, the chapter by Gasque entitled Paul the Missionary Statesman has a misleading title inasmuch as various Ramsay books on Paul are considered. In that chapter Gasque demonstrates the skill Ramsay used in his portrayals and researches concerning Paul.

Gasque hits the nail solidly on the head when he says:

In the writings of Ramsay it is Paul the man who is brought to life before the eyes of the student. The character of Paul takes on flesh and blood as the world in which he moved and the forces that molded his thoughts are unveiled for the reader, and when small—almost overlooked—details from the text of Acts or from one of his letters are breathed upon by Ramsay.

As Gasque points out, Ramsay’s The Seven Churches of Asia displays how Ramsay emphasizes the importance of the historical approach to a correct understanding of the New Testament. Gasque cites the richness of historical details Ramsay used in his treatment of the letter to Pergamum (pp. 53, 54, Gasque’s Sir William A. Ramsay).

In his introduction to Gasque’s book, F. F, Bruce says of Ramsay:

He had received no biblical or theological training, but he acquired, by dint of his painstaking archaeological research coupled with his mastery of first-century literature, an unrivalled knowledge of the historical and geographical background of the apostolic age, especially where Asia Minor was concerned, and he used that knowledge effectively to illuminate the New Testament.

After all Sir William A. Ramsay was knighted not for his theological deficiencies but for his acumen in New Testament history. Bruce makes one other interesting observation about Ramsay:

The nineteenth-century Ramsay was a very great man… The twentiet...

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