F. F. Bruce: A Life
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012
283 pp., $22.00
Frederick the Bruce
In the first quarter of the 14th century, Robert the Bruce reigned over Scotland. In the second half of the 20th century, another Scot named Bruce, Frederick Fyvie Bruce ("Fred" to his friends," "Professor Bruce" to his students, or simply "FFB"), reigned, it could be said, over worldwide evangelical biblical scholarship. The comparison stops there, however, because the irenicism of Frederick the Bruce contrasted sharply with the militancy that characterized Robert the Bruce, a warrior. Suitably to this contrast, Robert failed on a couple of occasions to capture Elgin, the hometown of Frederick (hereafter, FFB). The volume under present review deals with the life of FFB.
An alert by way of full disclosure: I was a doctoral student of FFB, his first one at England's Manchester University, so far as I know. On the other hand, I hardly came to know him: a 15-20 minute academic conversation once a month for a year, and never any socializing in each other's homes or elsewhere. He hadn't yet established a seminar. I took not even one class that he taught, and I heard him give only one special lecture. At our first meeting in his office we agreed on a dissertation topic. He suggested a half-dozen books for me to start with; and on receiving a draft of my dissertation, he told me to use "vicegerent" rather than the "viceregent" that I had written. Apart from the negligible monthly conversations already noted, plus one later-related exception, that was it. So the biography, F. F. Bruce: A Life, taught me a lot that I didn't know about my former doctoral supervisor. It even prompted me to read in addition his autobiography, In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past (Eerdmans, 1980).
Tim Grass, author of the biography, has tried not to duplicate the autobiography. Inevitably there is some overlap, but the biography grows out of a great deal of independent research. A 13-page select bibliography includes manuscripts, private papers and correspondence, files, unpublished theses/dissertations, ...