As a budding New Testament scholar decades ago, David Capes’ first exposure to F.F. Bruce was reading his biography of the apostle Paul, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. Capes, now senior research fellow at Lanier Theological Library in Houston, realized quickly he had discovered a treasure.
“Bruce had a breadth of knowledge and command of the languages that outpaced every other scholar I read,” Capes wrote in the introduction to a separate Bruce work, Understanding Biblical Criticism. He subsequently discovered other Bruce volumes and came to regard the 20th-century Scotsman as “by all accounts the most significant evangelical scholar of his age,” combining warm-hearted faith with respected academic publications.
That sentiment has been echoed by thousands of pastors, scholars, and lay persons alike over the past 70 years. Now, the reach of Bruce’s books can extend even further through a partnership between BibleMesh and Kingsley Books to make more than a dozen Bruce works available as e-books.
Born in Scotland in 1910, Frederick Fyvie Bruce—Fred to his friends—taught at several universities in the United Kingdom, including nearly 20 years at the University of Manchester. He was a lifelong member of the Plymouth Brethren denomination who engaged with critical New Testament scholarship in more than 50 books while never abandoning his trust in the Bible’s authority. He died in 1990.
“I should not find the career of a Bible teacher so satisfying as I do,” Bruce wrote, “if I were not persuaded that the Bible is God’s word written.”
Bruce “continues to influence the church today in quiet, understated ways,” Capes wrote.
But as many of Bruce’s books went out of print, his admirers wondered whether that influence would persist.
To ensure it does, Christian publishers Larry Stone and Robert Hicks formed F.F. Bruce Copyright International to manage and distribute Bruce’s works through the Kingsley Books imprint. As Stone learned about the ministry of BibleMesh, he realized it was an ideal partner for keeping Bruce’s legacy alive.
“The more I looked at it, I said, ‘I bet the people who are taking the courses at BibleMesh would be interested in F.F. Bruce’s books as a resource,’” Stone said. Both BibleMesh and Bruce’s works “are for the more serious layman or in some cases a scholar.”
Launched this year, Kingsley’s partnership with BibleMesh has made 14 of Bruce’s works available through BibleMesh’s e-book platform for less than $10 each. Among the offerings are biblical commentaries and Bruce’s classic book The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?—named by Christianity Today one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. BibleMesh plans to add more Bruce offerings in the future.
As his books attain resurgent distribution, they’re making waves. Within the past month, Stone attempted to boost a Facebook post with a passage from Bruce’s biography of Paul, in which he called the apostle a “campaigner for spiritual liberty” and claimed Paul “placed a higher valuation on human personality than social or political democracy ever do.” Facebook denied Stone’s attempt to boost the post, saying it may address “sensitive social issues that could influence public opinion.” Stone hopes Facebook is right.
David Roach is editor of the BibleMesh blog.