Granville Sharp: A Model Of Evangelical Scholarship And Social Activism -- By: Daniel B. Wallace

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:4 (Dec 1998)
Article: Granville Sharp: A Model Of Evangelical Scholarship And Social Activism
Author: Daniel B. Wallace


Granville Sharp: A Model
Of Evangelical Scholarship And Social Activism

Daniel B. Wallace*

* Daniel Wallace is associate professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, TX 75204.

Granville Sharp is widely known in evangelical circles for his famous Greek rule that has been used to defend the deity of Christ in various NT passages. Outside of evangelical circles, Sharp is better known as the man who did for England what Abraham Lincoln did for America. He was the prime mover in the abolition of slavery in England. One might even say that he was the force behind Wilberforce. But these two foci are only the tip of the iceberg in this man’s remarkable life. He launched a Bible society, saved a denomination from annihilation, and even founded a nation. Such activities were matched only by his literary efforts. His writings covered a vast array of topics—from philology and textual criticism to theology, music, and social causes, especially the cause of freedom for the black slave. At all times Sharp’s views of human dignity and freedom were grounded in Scripture. Consequently his writings gave theological articulation to the causes of liberty in three American wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

Why is this paper needed?1 For three reasons: (1) Granville Sharp’s name is well known in our circles, yet little is known about the man. (2) Indeed, very little is known about his famous rule—a rule that has been almost universally abused and misunderstood by grammarians and exegetes alike. (3) Further, while many evangelicals who wish to have an impact on society have difficulty finding a role model, Sharp readily supplies one. His story begs to be told afresh.

I. A Short Life Of Granville Sharp

Granville Sharp2 is one of the great forgotten heroes3 of history. His biographers sing his praises at every turn. His chief biographer, Prince Hoare

(who penned a two-volume, 900-page work on Sharp’s life), goes so far as to say that at the outset of his investigations he intended, out of respect for the dead, to “draw a veil over some peculiarities of Mr. Sharp’s character.” When he finished his well-researched and comprehensive biography he happily found Sharp’s “character to be of that high and dignified nature, to leave no necessity for such a precaution.… I see nothing to veil.”4 Granville Sharp was one of a rare breed of men whose life was ...

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