Saturday, April 21, 2007

F.F. Bruce on Gospel Introduction - Part 2

A little sooner than promised, the following article is now available on-line in PDF:

Quotable quotes:

It could have been by no means so easy as some form-­critics seem to think to invent Sayings of Jesus in those early years, when so many of His disciples were about, who could remember what He had said and not said. As Dr. Vincent Taylor says, “If the Form-Critics are right, the disciples must have been translated to heaven immediately after the Resurrec­tion”. Besides, so far as our definite information goes, the early Christians were careful to distinguish between Sayings of Christ and their own inferences or judgments. Compare Paul’s careful distinction in 1 Cor. vii: “I, not the Lord,” and again, “not I, but the Lord”.

The early preachers had not only friendly eyewitnesses to reckon with; there were others less-well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The first proclaimers of the Kerygma could not afford in their preaching to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of wilful manipulation of the facts), which might at once be exposed by some who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers: “as ye yourselves also know” (Acts ii. 22), said Peter at Pentecost when narrating the evangelic facts; even the house of the Gentile Cornelius was presumed to be acquainted with the main outline of the story of Jesus from the baptism of John onwards (Acts x. 36ff.). Had there been any tendency to depart from strict historical accuracy, this would have served as a further cor­rective. [p.274]


Mr. Douglas Jerrold tells us that when he approached Dr. W. R. Inge to write a Life of Christ for Benn’s Sixpenny Library, he received a terse post-card to this effect: “As there are no materials for a life of Christ, I regret that I cannot comply with your request.” The answer, though paradoxical, was wise. We cannot know Him kata sarka. We must either know Him as He is presented to, us in the Gospel, or not know Him at all. If we choose the earliest of the four Evangelists as our teacher, he will lead us to confess with the centurion under the shadow of. the Cross, “Truly this Man was the Son of God the same goal in reality as we reach then under the guidance of the latest Evangelist we say with Thomas in the presence of the risen Saviour, “My Lord and my God”. [p.278]

Friday, April 20, 2007

F.F. Bruce on Gospel Introduction (Part 1 of 3)

The following article is now available in PDF:

F.F. Bruce, "Some Aspects of Gospel Introduction (Part 1)," The Evangelical Quarterly 14 (1942): 174-197.

Look out for part 2 next week.

Quotable quote:
In the fascination of tracking down the original oral and documentary sources of our Gospels, the student at times for­gets that each Gospel ought primarily to be studied for its own sake, and in the light of the distinctive purpose of each of the four Evangelists. Whereas the sources are largely hypothetical, the Gospels themselves in their present Greek dress are there before our eyes, each an individual literary work with its own characteristic viewpoint, which has in great measure controlled the choice and presentation of the subject-matter. In attempting to discover how they were composed, we must by all means beware of regarding them as mere scissors-and-paste compilations. [p.174]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Contact for Christ Blog launched

Following hard on the heels of the Christian Enquiry Agency, Contact for Christ now has its own Blog. It will focus on subjects relating to evangelism in the United Kingdom, focusing especially on projects being supported by the Deo Gloria Trust. Subscribe to updates here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Did Ahab Rescue Jonah From the Whale?

Romany over on the You Did What? Blog writes of the demise of Spring Harvest's special Bible teaching week, Word Alive. I have to say that I am not completely surprised that the event has been cancelled as I've been wondering lately if Bible teaching is out of favour in the UK church.

I recently spoke at length to a lecturer at one of England's larger Bible Colleges. He shared how frustrated he was that the students starting their courses were appallingly ignorant of the very text which they were supposedly at College to study - the Bible itself. When asked many could not arrange important biblical events such as the flood, exodus, exile, monarchy in chronological order. Most knew of the major characters such as Abraham and Moses, but many had never heard of King Ahab, amongst others. When it came to theological debates students now have to have terms, which ten years ago would have been well-known, explained to them, using up valuable lecture-time.

Some years ago when I was in Vancouver I was asked by the minister there to prepare a study for the church staff on the Welsh Revival, because he believed that revival was what was needed in his city. In my conclusion I wrote:
It is important to learn from the mistakes made during the Revival. Roberts was no expositor of the Word, and this was a weakness that was passed on to the new converts, who relied heavily on emotion and not upon Scripture. In a sense the revival was based upon the preaching of a previous generation of ministers and Sunday School teachers, whose efforts finally bore fruit in 1904. When the Revival began to decline the established churches found it difficult to disciple the new converts, which is what they desperately needed. We need to seriously question whether our church is in a position to cope with thousands of new converts, before we ask God for Revival. Dare we ask for a Revival when we cannot care for the new spiritual children?

More and more I believe that this is the lesson the Welsh Revival has for Christians in the UK today. If find ourselves in the position of championing biblical ignorance in the face of clear biblical injunctions to read, memorise and to meditate on the Word of God we will continue to reap the fruits of this ignorance, empty emotionalism and ultimately, empty churches.

Fortunately, Word Alive will continue, but not under the Spring Harvest banner. For more information visit

F.F. Bruce on the Ending of Mark's Gospel

The following article is available on-line:

F.F. Bruce, "The End of the Second Gospel," The Evangelical Quarterly 17 (1945): 169-81.

Bruce concludes that the last 12 verses of Mark were not part of Mark's original Gospel, but that they can and should still to be accepted as Scripture.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jesus and Homosexuality

Matt Colvin has a very interesting entry on his blog entitled An Unheard of Sin in Judaism which deals with the issue of whether Paul and Jesus shared the same view of homosexuality.

Matt concludes:
So, no, this is not a matter in which Jesus could have departed from Jewish tradition without automatically discrediting his ministry. When Paul says that unrepentant homosexual offenders (to say nothing of those who are proud of their behaviour and crusade for its acceptance) will not inherit the kingdom of God, he is not being the mean apostle who invented intolerant Christianity by revising the teachings of "gentle Jesus, meek and mild." He is, rather, repeating what YHWH has always thought about the practice in question, and what Jesus thought about it too.
Well worth a read IMHO.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

F.F. Bruce on Primary Sense and Plenary Sense

The following article is now available in PDF (again):

F.F. Bruce, "Primary Sense and Plenary Sense," (Peake Memorial Lecture) Epworth Review 4 (1977): 94-109.

Quotable quote:
I know some theologians who would suggest that the Holy Spirit may bring forth from Scripture today truth, which bears little relation to that conveyed by the text in its historical setting, but I cannot think they are right. Even the devotional application of Scripture, which is specially impatient of strict exegetical controls, must be reasonably deducible from what Scripture says; otherwise why base a ‘blessed thought’ on one text more than another, or why base it on a text of Scripture at all?

I have found preparing this article for the Web particularly difficult due to the poor quality of the original (provided by the British Library). Please let me know if I've missed any of the typos.

With the arrival of British Summer Time I am switching to my summer schedule. This means that I will be uploading fewer articles (probably only one of two a week) as more of my time will be spent on trips to the park with my two little boys and my evenings spent working on my allotments.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Article removed for re-editing

I mistakenly uploaded an article by F.F. Bruce last night before I had finished proof-reading it. It will be uploaded again when it is complete. Many thanks to those who pointed this out!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

F.F. Bruce on the End of Matthew's Gospel

The following article is now available on-line in PDF:

F.F. Bruce, "The End of the First Gospel," The Evangelical Quarterly 12 (1940): 203-214.

Bruce concludes:
Thus our study of the closing paragraph of Matthew’s Gospel suggests that our application of the great commission must control our application of the rest of the book. If it is for the Church, so also is the Lord’s Prayer, despite assertions that its use by the Church “is wrong, decidedly unchristian” and that the future remnant “will undoubtedly use this prayer during the great tribulation”. It is not its use, but its misuse, that is “wrong, decidedly unchristian”. And as we use it aright and pray “Thy kingdom come”, let us realize that it is partly in our own power to “hasten the coming of the day of God” by fulfilling the terms of this commission; for “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come”―that “end” which will be but the beginning of the new, unending day...