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Baptists and Old Testament scholarship. (Editorial).

Baptists have been from the beginning a people of the Bible, a people of the Book.

Rejecting creeds and councils and tradition as having final authority, the first Baptists of the 1600s appealed to Scripture for the final authority. They peppered their tracts, confessions, and sermons with copious references to the Bible, perhaps even to the point of proof-texting. This rich tradition of commitment to the Bible as Holy Scripture extends fight to the present in the life of Baptists. It should come as no surprise that the Baptist commitment to the Bible as Holy Scripture made study of the biblical text central to the mission of Baptist colleges and seminaries. Baptists have studied the Bible, argued about it, divided over it, and, more importantly, had a profound loyalty to its message, even when they disagree about what that message is.

This winter edition of Baptist History and Heritage explores Baptist scholarship and the study of the Old Testament. Baptists have a rich tradition of formal study of the Hebrew Scriptures, a tradition that grew significantly with the rise of modern biblical scholarship in the late 1800s. Baptists in North America and Europe had important Old Testament scholars in their ranks, and this issue explores the life and contributions of several of these people.

One can hardly consider the story of Baptist Old Testament scholarship without exploring the work and life of Crawford Toy, the highly known but largely understudied Old Testament professor dismissed from Southern Seminary. This issue aims to correct this lack of attention by devoting two articles to Toy. Dan Kent gives us a detailed biographical summary of Toy's life and work, with detailed attention to his personal and professional life. Phyllis Tippit and W. H. Bellinger compare the experience of Toy at Southern with his contemporary, the British Old Testament scholar, W. Robertson Smith. Both men faced heresy trials of sorts, but their careers and their roles in Baptist life took different directions.

Nancy deClaisse-Walford traces the career of John Sampey, long-time professor of Old Testament at Southern Seminary who educated a generation of traditional and pastoral scholars.

Daniel Mynatt explores another professor at Southern Seminary from a more recent era by examining the work of Page Kelley.

Finally, from the other side of the Atlantic, Ronald Clements provides a thorough study of H. H. Rowley, the Baptist Old Testament scholar who insisted that the devotional reading of the Old Testament and the historical critical approach to the text were both compatible and necessary to a full understanding of the Bible.

Historians are better at reading the past than predicting the future. However, I predict that Baptists will always be a people of the Bible. The more we understand the stories of our Bible scholars, the more we can appreciate our biblical roots.

Shalom, Mel Hawkins
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Author:Hawkins, Merrill M., Jr.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:Southern Baptist Historical Society contributions update. (News Notes).
Next Article:The Baptist soul. (An Executive Note).

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