Posts tagged ‘Ancient Manuscripts’

July 27, 2019

The Books and the Parchments

Cover Books and Parchments Book Description

“One thing that has impressed itself upon me time and again” writes Dr. Bruce in his preface to this, the third edition of his famous work, “has been the wealth of fresh discovery that has had to be recorded during these last few years.”

In these chapters on the transmission of Bible, the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester, England, presents for layman and student alike the results of the latest research and discovery in such fields as the languages of the Bible, the scripts in which they were written, the chief surviving manuscripts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Canon of Scripture, the original text, the ancient versions, and the story of the English Bible, including some account of the New English Bible. Those who wish to have an up-to-date account of these varying aspects of Bible study within the compass of one volume will find their need met here. ~ from the dust jacket.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990) was a Biblical scholar who taught at a variety of universities and was editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He wrote a number of influential books, such as Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?, New Testament History, The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1950 book, “This volume gathers together a number of articles written and papers read at various times on the transmission of the Bible. It is intended for non-specialists like those who have read them or heard them in their earlier forms, and who have frequently expressed a desire to have them in this form… I have tried to bear in mind the questions which are most frequently asked about these matters, and to answer them to the best of my ability. I hope that the volume may thus prove interesting and useful to the many who, without aiming at any specialist knowledge of Biblical learning, would welcome a handbook dealing with these questions.”

He points out, “Much of the vivid, concrete and forthright character of our English Old Testament is really a carrying over into English of something of the genius of the Hebrew tongue. Biblical Hebrew does not deal with abstractions but with the facts of experience. It is the right sort of language for the record of the self-revelation of a God who does not make Himself known by philosophical propositions but by controlling and intervening in the course of human history. Hebrew is not afraid to use daring anthropomorphisms when speaking of God. If God imparts to men the knowledge of Himself, he chooses to do so most effectively in terms of human life and human language.” (Pg. 45)

He observes, “a writer like Luke… commanded a good, idiomatic Greek style. Even in the English translation it is difficult to miss the transition in style which takes place between the fourth and fifth verses of his Gospel. From the fifth verse of his first chapter to the end of his second chapter we might be reading a continuation of the Old Testament, so reminiscent is the style of his nativity narratives of the characteristic phraseology of the Old Testament. Some scholars have supposed that for these nativity narratives Luke was dependent on a Hebrew document. This is possible—indeed, it seems to the writer more likely—but it is also possible that Luke was simply composing deliberately in ‘Septuagint’ style because he judged that most appropriate for the subject-matter of these two chapters.” (Pg. 71)

He notes, “It is sometimes claimed that the criterion which the early Christians applied in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical or not was that of apostolic authorship. Now, it is certain that apostolic authorship counted for very much. It was for this reason that such a flood of apocryphal literature appears in the second century bearing the names of various apostles… And there is no example of a certainly apostolic writing being refused canonical recognition… But apostolic authorship, though an important factor, was not the only ground of canonicity. It is probably a mistake to think that we owe the presence of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our Bibles entirely to the happy accident that it was popularly ascribed to Paul. For, after all, two of the Gospels bear the names of men who were not apostles, and yet that did not stand in the way of accepting Mark and Luke as equally inspired with Matthew and John.” (Pg. 110)

Like all collections of diverse essays, this one is admittedly somewhat “uneven.” But Bruce’s scholarship is of the highest grade as always, and his explanations for a “popular” audience will be of help to many or most persons seriously studying the Bible. ~ Stephen H. Propp, Amazon Review, accessed 7/27/2019

About the Author

FF BruceFrederick 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]

Bruce was born in Elgin, Moray, 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, Philippians, 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 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. ~ Wikipedia

Book Details

Hardcover: 287 pages

Publisher: Fleming H Revell; 3rd ed rev edition (1963)

Advertisements