F. F. Bruce

F. F. Bruce
FF Bruce.jpg
Born Frederick Fyvie Bruce
(1910-10-12)12 October 1910
Elgin, Moray, Scotland
Died 11 September 1990(1990-09-11) (aged 79)
Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Title Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Manchester
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
Discipline Biblical studies

Frederick Fyvie Bruce FBA (12 October 1910 – 11 September 1990), usually cited as F. F. Bruce, was a biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. His first book, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1943), was voted by the American evangelical periodical Christianity Today in 2006 as one of the top 50 books "which had shaped evangelicals".[1]

Early life

Bruce was born in Elgin, Moray, in Scotland, the son of a Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) preacher and educated at the University of Aberdeen, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and the University of Vienna, where he studied with Paul Kretschmer, an Indo-European philologist.[2]


After teaching Greek for several years, first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds, he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. Aberdeen University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree on him in 1957.[3] In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis.[4] He wrote over 40 books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from teaching in 1978.

Bruce was a scholar on the life and ministry of Paul the Apostle and wrote several studies, the best known of which is Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit (published in the United States as Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free). He also wrote commentaries on many biblical books including Habakkuk, the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

Most of Bruce's works were scholarly, but he also wrote many popular works on the Bible. He viewed the New Testament writings as historically reliable and the truth claims of Christianity as hinging on their being so. To Bruce this did not mean that the Bible was always precise, or that this lack of precision could not lead to some confusion. He believed, however, that the passages that were still open to debate were ones that had no substantial bearing on Christian theology and thinking. Bruce's colleague at Manchester, James Barr, considered Bruce a "conservative liberal".[5]

Bruce was a friend and colleague of H.L. Ellison.

Personal views

Bruce was in Christian fellowship at various places during his life, though his primary commitment was to the Open Brethren among whom he grew up.[6] He enjoyed the fellowship and acceptance of this group, though he was very much a maverick in relation to his own personal beliefs. He never accepted a specific brand of dispensationalism[7] usually associated with the Brethren, although he may have held a historic premillennialism[8] akin to George Eldon Ladd[9] and he was also an advocate of the public ministry of women[10] – something that many Plymouth Brethren would still disapprove of today.


Bruce was honoured with two scholarly works by his colleagues and former students, one to mark his 60th and the other to mark his 70th birthday. Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce on his 60th Birthday (1970) included contributions from E. M. Blaiklock, E. Earle Ellis, I. Howard Marshall, Bruce M. Metzger, William Barclay, G. E. Ladd, A. R. Millard, Leon Morris, Bo Reicke, and Donald Guthrie. Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to Professor F. F. Bruce on his 70th Birthday (1980) included contributions from Peter T. O'Brien, David Wenham, Ronald E. Clements, and Moisés Silva. C. F. D. Moule and Robert H. Gundry contributed to both volumes.

Bruce was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 1965 served as President of the Society for Old Testament Study,[11] and also as President of the Society for New Testament Study.

Selected writings




  1. ^ Grass, Tim (2012). F. F. Bruce: A Life. Milton Keynes: Paternoster. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8028-6723-0. 
  2. ^ Hippenhammer, Craighton T., "F.F. Bruce: A Life, by Tim Grass" (2013). Faculty Scholarship – Library Science. Paper 15. http://digitalcommons.olivet.edu/lsci_facp/15.
  3. ^ W.W. Gasque, "Bruce, F(rederick) F(yvie)", Historical Handbook of Major Bible Interpreters, ed. Donald K. McKim, InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 444.
  4. ^ "F. F. Bruce a life". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 2015-12-17. 
  5. ^ Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth (2000), p. 181; John Wenham, Facing Hell: An Autobiography, Carlisle: Paternoster Press (1999), p. 195.
  6. ^ Arnold Pickering, "F.F. Bruce as a Fellow-Elder", Christian Brethren Research Fellowship Journal 22 (Nov. 1971), p. 15f.
  7. ^ F.F. Bruce, "The End of the First Gospel", The Evangelical Quarterly 12 (1940), pp. 203–214.
  8. ^ "AntiChrist Comes First". Archived from the original on 16 February 2005. Retrieved 25 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Grass, Tim (2012). F. F. Bruce: A Life. Milton Keynes: Paternoster. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0-8028-6723-0. 
  10. ^ see http://answers.net.nz/Other/bre.3.htm for a criticism of Bruce for supporting Women's Ministry based on a review of one of his articles
  11. ^ Grass, Tim (2011). F. F. Bruce: A Life. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. p. 229. ISBN 9780802867230. 

Further reading

  • W. Ward Gasque & Ralph P. Martin (eds). Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce on his 60th Birthday. Exeter: Paternoster; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1970. ISBN 0-85364-098-X
  • D. A. Hagner & M. J. Harris (eds). Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce. Exeter: Paternoster; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1980. ISBN 0-8028-3531-7
  • F. F. Bruce. In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past. Revised edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993. ISBN 0-8010-1055-1
  • Tim Grass. F. F. Bruce. A Life. Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2012. ISBN 978-1-84227-737-9

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Walter Manson
Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism
Succeeded by
Barnabas Lindars

F. F. Bruce

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