In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past
F. F. Bruce. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980. 319 pages.
When I first saw an advance notice of F. F. Bruce’s “remembrance of things past,” I eagerly looked forward to the appearance of the autobiography. My first acquaintance with this prolific evangelical scholar was made some twenty-five years ago, when I was introduced to his Commentary on Acts (1954). Later I discovered his Commentary on the Greek Text of Acts, which was the forerunner (1951) of the Eerdmans series.
Bruce’s The Spreading Flame captured my attention in 1950, when it fell to me to teach a course in the history of Christian mission. I found myself rereading it last summer, after Eerdmans published it in paperback (1979).
There is probably no Biblical scholar who has shaped the thinking of evangelical scholars in the English speaking world as has F. F. Bruce. In his long teaching career at Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, and finally at Manchester, where he succeeded T. W. Manson, we have come to expect at least one new book from Bruce’s pen annually.
And now this delightful story of his life! Once I started reading (which was immediately upon receipt of the book), I could not put the book down. While Bruce’s style in all his books is characterized by clarity, in this more personal volume one discovers a delightful sense of humor—not so obvious in his academic works.
In thirty-eight chapters the author takes us with him to Northern Scotland, where his cradle stood, to the centers of learning which shaped his classical scholarship. It is inspiring to see the young professor in the making deeply involved in the life of the church as he pursues his studies at Aberdeen, Cambridge and Vienna.
It is marvellous to see God’s hand leading him from classical to biblical studies, a field in which his literary contributions have been prodigious. That a man, who has held so many prestigious posts in his life, can write the story of his life in such a humble vein, can be explained only as a sign of divine grace.
One might have wished he had written a bit more about his family life, but, as Bruce says about his wife, “She has been all I could wish. More might be said, but it isn’t going to be.”
Here is a book that will warm your heart, enlighten your mind and call you to faithfulness to Jesus and his church.