Friday, January 15, 2010

Biography of G.R. Beasley-Murray - Part 1

I've just finished reading through the biography of George Beasley-Murray by Paul Beasley-Murray, Fearless for the Truth: A Personal Portrait of the the Life of George Beasley-Murray (Carlise, UK: Paternoster, 2002).

I won't summarize the whole book, only a few highlights: George Beasley-Murray (henceforth GBM [1919-2000]) grew up in England and was converted as a teenager in a Baptist church, though he might as well ended up as a concert pianist had he not felt a calling to ministry. He studied for ministry at Spurgeon's College. He met his future wife Ruth West on a Christian holiday in Ilfracombe. Having spent a night in prayer, the next morning he told her that he felt that God would have him marry her (which he did). To his dying days he never doubted the Lord's guidance in his marriage to Ruth. He served in a number of Baptist churches upon which time he took a London BD and a Cambridge MA, his Ph.D was under R.V.G. Tasker at the University of London.

GBM was an interesting chap in terms of how conservative he was. He accepted a second century date for Daniel, he translated Bultmann's John commentary (even though he strongly rejected Bultmann's view of history in the Gospels), GBM's doctrine of Scripture looks rather Barthian, he was highly involved in the ecumenical movement and defended it against detractors, and GBM believed that Mark 13 was historically authentic but that the Lord was wrong about the date of his own parousia (though in his final book Jesus and the Future he changed his mind so that Mk 13.30 was about the destruction of Jerusalem not the parousia). What also comes out in the book is that GBM was a committed evangelist, he promoted the ministry of Billy Graham, he was intimately involved in baptist life and churches, and he spoke out strongly against a Baptist address by a certain Michael Taylor that denied the incarnation and the controversy nearly split the denomination.

GBM served as a tutor at Spurgeon's, lecturer at Ruschlikon in Switzerland , then Principal of Spurgeon's, before finally accepting a position at Southern Baptist Theology Seminary. At one time he was also offered the John Rylands Chair in Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at Manchester University but turned it down in order to focus on the work at Spurgeon's (in other words, GBM was first choice over F.F. Bruce for the position). GBM was awarded a DD by the University of London for his book on Baptism.

GBM listed as his biggest intellectual influencec: C.H. Dodd, B.F. Westcott, E.C. Hoskyns, Adolf Schlatter, Strack-Billerbeck, and R. Newton Flew. He learnt several languages including German, French, Danish, and Italian by reading "Teach Yourself" books whenever he took public transport. In addition to knowing Greek and Latin, he also studied Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac.


CeceB said...

I just wanted to alert your readers to a prayer movement that’s been going on for the past dozen years or so led by the French ministry Objectif France. For the past three years, the campaign Pray for France (in English) has been translating their 21-day prayer guide with current prayer topics for each day. Pray for France allows English speakers to pray alongside their French brothers and sisters during the three weeks before Easter and it’s FREE for those who visit the website and register… All the information is on the site…!

Steve Teague said...

GBM was a professor, and friend at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, when I was a student 72-75. I would stop by their apartment on the campus, to listen as he played the piano. I asked if he would do a concert and program the Disciples Church where I served in south Indiana - which he so graciously did. A brilliant scholar with a large heart and compassion for the gospel, and entertaining such fools as students who were to learn from his life, wisdom, and walk with God.