Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Evangelical Exegetes Hall of Fame III - George R. Beasley-Murray

George Raymond Beasley-Murray was one of the finest twentieth-century Baptist New Testament Scholars. He was principal of Spurgeon's College in England and also James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Some of his finest works include:

- Jesus and the future; an examination of the criticism of the eschatological discourse, Mark 13, with special reference to the little apocalypse theory (1954)
- A commentary on Mark thirteen (1957)
- Baptism in the New Testament (1962)
- The general Epistles: James, 1 Peter, Jude, 2 Peter (1965)
- The Book of Revelation (1974)
- Jesus and the kingdom of God (1986)
- John (1987)
- Gospel of life: Theology in the fourth Gospel (1991)
- Jesus and the last days: The interpretation of the Olivet discourse (1993)
- Preaching the gospel from the gospels (1996)

He also translated Rudolf Bultmann's The Gospel of John: A commentary (1971) and received a festschrift Eschatology and the New Testament: Essays in honor of George Raymond Beasley-Murray (1988) edited by W. Hulitt Gloer. His son Paul Beasley-Murray (a bit of a chip off the old block himself) has written a biography of his father called: Fearless for Truth: A Personal Portrait of George Raymond Beasley-Murray which I am hoping very soon to get a hold of and read.

Beasley-Murray is probably best known for his work on Mark 13, New Testament Eschatology, commentaries on Revelation and John, as well as his book on baptism. He sadly passed away in 2000.

I'm glad to say that Beasley-Murray visited Australia and even preached at the Baptist Theological College of Queensland (as it was called then and long, long before my time) and I remember listening to an audio tape of his lecture on Revelation where he recounted how he and his wife were reading through Revelation for their morning devotionals and his wife turned to him and asked what it meant (something to do with the bowls of wrath I think). I shall never forget his reply where he said to his beloved wife, "I haven't the foggiest idea". Good to know that I'm not alone on that one!


Jim said...

I met Professor Beasley-Murray and his wife when he was guest lecturer at SEBTS. We became fast friends and had dinner together a number of times. His lovely wife gave me an English teapot as a gift that still sits on my counter and a tea cloth with a map of England on it as well. Then when he returned to England he invited me to stay with him a couple of weeks in their home in Hove when I went to England. We had such a delightful time. He took me all around London and showed me sights most tourists never get to experience.

We went to the Baptist Church down the road that he attended and while we were sitting there waiting for the service to begin I asked him if they knew who he was. He replied "no". That's all. No explanation and no expansion. Just "no".

He was kind enough to sign his books in my collection and I treasure them, and even more, him, and his wife's friendship.

I'm sad to say that we lost contact after a number of years. I was profoundly saddened to hear of his death.

Thanks for reminding everyone what a great scholar he was. But he was also a great man. A truly Christian gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very fine tribute. It is great to know that Baptists may claim at least one Revelation and eschatology scholar. I turn to his commentary frequently, but alas it has been surpassed by recent and more detailed commentaries. Nevertheless, he will always be highly regarded for his valuable contributions.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Thanks to this tribute to one of my professors. By the time I was a student at SBTS in the '80s, Beasley-Murray had already retired back to the UK and was emeritus prof at Spurgeon's. But he still regularly came back to Louisville for summer courses. I had two with him: One on the Kingdom of God and the other on Baptism in the New Testament.

Beasley-Murray was one of the great NT theologians of the 20th C. When he retired, his Festschrift included a list of well-wishers than read like Who's Who in NT Studies--from liberals like Eduard Schweizer to conservatives like Craig Blomberg and many in between.

Thanks again for this great tribute.

Anonymous said...

Good post on Beasley Murray.
Yeah funny about QBBC changing its name (I think they were trying to keep up with the Morlings). It was said "if Morling knew what went on at Morling he'd change his name".
No Morling has improved wonderfully of recent days.