About F.F. Bruce

Who was F.F. Bruce and why was he important?

F.F. Bruce was one of the most influential evangelical scholars of the second half of the twentieth century.

His importance comes from the fact that in a time when the academic community looked down upon Evangelicals, Bruce demonstrated that worthwhile academic work could be done by a scholar holding evangelical views. At the same time, Bruce persuaded Evangelicals that they should not turn their backs on academic methods of Bible study, even if the results might differ from traditional evangelical views.

“He was by all accounts,” said Dr. David Capes, “the most significant evangelical scholar of his age and continues to influence the church today in quiet, understated ways.”

Known worldwide as the “Dean of Evangelical Scholarship,” F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was a biblical scholar who supported the historical reliability of the New Testament. Trained in classics at the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge University, he taught at the universities of Edinburgh, Leeds, and Sheffield, and was for almost twenty years the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester.

F.F. Bruce was charitable, gentle, and respected those with whom he disagreed and those who disagreed with him. He seemed to be genuinely humble, teachable, and diplomatic. J.I. Packer said, “No Christian was ever more free of narrow bigotry, prejudice and eccentricity in the views he held and the way he held them; no man did more to demonstrate how evangelical faith and total academic integrity may walk hand in hand.”

“The issues which, for Bruce, were non-negotiable,” said Bruce’s biographer Tim Grass, “may be summarized as the reliability of the New Testament, the person and work of Christ, the Christian life as one of forgiveness and liberty as befits those who are being led by the Spirit, and the right and duty of every believer to use whatever gifts God has given them.”

F.F. Bruce belonged to a group of independent Christian congregations called the Brethren, a group that gives prominence to Scripture and to the Lord’s Supper and that has influenced the broader evangelical church far out of proportion to its small size. Bruce wrote a paper on “Who are the Brethren” and contributed to an article on “Why I Have Stayed with the Brethren.” In 1979 he founded the Christian Brethren Archive at the University of Manchester.

The purpose of this website, then, is to encourage an understanding of these “non-negotiables,” to encourage a spirit of humility in approaching the Bible, and to encourage academic scholarship among today’s evangelical students and leaders.


Christianity Today celebrated F.F. Bruce, “A Man of Unchanging Faith


Peter Oakes, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis (the same chair that F.F. Bruce held) and Co-Director of the Centre for Biblical Studies at the University of Manchester, published an article about Professor Bruce and the development of evangelical scholarship in 2004 in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. Reproduced from the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Volume 86, No. 3 (Autumn 2004, pages 99-124) and used by kind permission.

In November, 1961 F.F. Bruce wrote a short article on “Who are the Brethren?” for The Witness. This was reprinted as a booklet by Pickering & Inglis, Echoes Publications, and others, and revised in 1990 for Harvester/Aware.

In 1965 the Journal of the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship asked several people who had been brought up among the Brethren to tell “Why I Have Stayed with the Brethren,” followed by asking several people who came from other traditions, “Why I Joined the Brethren.” Bruce was one of former.

Both articles are reproduced here.

In 1971 the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship Journal (CBRF) published a series of articles by friends of F.F. Bruce. They illustrate the impact Professor Bruce had on evangelical scholarship and church life in the United Kingdom and beyond. The articles are included on this website by the kind permission of Partnership (www.partnershipuk.org) as successor to the CBRF and Rob Bradshaw of https://theologicalstudies.org.uk/, who prepared the digital texts.

When F.F. Bruce died in 1990, Alan Millard, a distinguished archaeologist and Rankin Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic languages at University of Liverpool and close friend of Professor Bruce, wrote a tribute to F.F. Bruce in the March, 1991, issue of Journal of Semitic Studies. Bruce had written about fifty book reviews for the Journal. This tribute is reproduced by the kind permission of Alan Millard.