Meet F.F. Bruce

Frederick Fyvie Bruce was born in 1910 in Elgin, Scotland, the oldest of seven children. His father was an evangelist in the Open Brethren Church, and the son maintained membership in that church throughout his own life. He describes his growing-up years as times of "plain living and high thinking." (In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past)

He graduated from the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge University with degrees in Classics, and then moved on to the University of Vienna, where he intended to present himself as a Ph.D. candidate. However, in the midst of that process, he was offered a position as an assistant teacher of Greek at Edinburgh University. Wishing both to achieve a foothold on the academic teaching ladder and, even more, to marry his fiancée, Betty Davidson, he accepted the offer. He observes, "Had I been an American, the non-completion of a Ph.D. course might have been a serious handicap in my future academic career. As it was, it made not the slightest difference." (In Retrospect)

He remained at Edinburgh from 1935-38, moving on to Leeds University as lecturer in Greek from 1928-1947. During those years, his research and teaching began to move away from the classics and toward the Greek New Testament, Hebrew, and biblical studies. Influential in this change of academic focus was [another Brethren scholar] W.E. Vine who, in 1939, asked him to help in reading the proofs of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. He was appointed to the new chair of biblical studies at Sheffield University (1947-1959) and later to that of biblical criticism and exegesis at Manchester (1959-1978).

F.F. Bruce served as president of both the Society for Old Testament Study and for New Testament Study. He edited The Evangelical Quarterly (1949-1980) and Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1957-1971). He was the general editor of The New International Commentary on the New Testament, contributed volumes on Acts and Hebrews, and co-authored volumes on Ephesians and Colossians. In addition to other commentaries on most of the New Testament, his works include Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, Israel and the Nations, and The Spreading Flame. He loved books and writing, and describes the latter condition as cacoethes scribendi, loosely translated meaning "scribbler’s itch." (Three full chapters of In Retrospect are devoted to books—those he owned, those he wished he owned, how much he paid for them, and descriptions of favorite book shops where he bought them.)

Before his death in 1990, Bruce and Betty traveled widely, combining teaching engagements with family visits to their son Iain and his family in Newfoundland, and to Uganda and later Australia to visit their daughter Sheila and her family. Included in these tours were frequent North American stays and an on-going close association with Regent College in Vancouver. His faith in Christ was warm and vital, and of supreme importance to him in his life and ministry, as scholar, husband, and father.

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