1st July 2007
Happy Canada Day!
For unaware readers, Canada Day is the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of “Canada” on July 1st. This year marks Canada’s 140th birthday. Happy birthday to us!
In honour of Canada Day, I thought I would list the top ten Canadian Biblical Scholars. To qualify for the list, the scholars must be Canadian citizens who spent a significant amount of their academic career in Canada. Beyond this basic requirement, these individuals were/are leading scholars in their disciplines as demonstrated by their teaching, research, and writing, as well as their contribution to the field of biblical studies in Canada. As you can see from the names below, this list is more historical in nature.
So, for what it is worth, here’s my list (in alphabetical order):
- Francis (Frank) W. Beare. Beare was professor of New Testament at Trinity College, Toronto, and author of a number of books in New Testament studies, and contributed to the Interpreter’s Bible and the Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible. He served as president of CSBS in 1941-42 as well as the SBL in 1969. The CSBS has an annual prize named for Dr. Beare for an outstanding book in the areas of Christian Origins, Post-Biblical Judaism and/or Graeco-Roman Religions.
- G. B. Caird. Beginning his career as Professor of NT at McGill (he finished it at Oxford), Caird was known for his many studies of the gospel of Luke and the book of Revelation as well as his monograph The Language and Imagery of the Bible. He served as president of the CSBS in 1957-58.
- Peter C. Craigie. A specialist in Hebrew Bible as well as Ugaritic, Craigie was Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, where he later became Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Associate Vice-President (Academic), and, in 1985, Vice-President (Academic) just before his untimely death from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in 1985. His publications included commentaries on Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets, as well as a popular book on War in the Hebrew Bible. Craigie was also committed to bridge the gap between academia and the church. His term as president of the CSBS was cut short by his death. The CSBS holds a bi-yearly lecture in Craigie’s honour.
- R.A.F. MacKenzie. Professor of Old Testament at Regis College in Toronto for 14 years, MacKenzie distinguished himself as one of the leading English-speaking Catholic scholars in Canada. Author of many book and articles in biblical studies, I personally found his work on biblical case law quite fascinating.
- J. F. McCurdy. The “father” of biblical studies in Canada, McCurdy headed up the Department of Orientals at University College, Toronto.
- Theophile Jame Meek. Professor at University College, Toronto, and author of many books and articles, including his influential Hebrew Origins. Probably best known as the translator of the Mesopotamian law codes in J.B. Pritchard’s ANET.
- R. B. Y. Scott. Scott was a prolific scholar, an editor and contributor to the Interpreter’s Bible, a contributor to the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, and author of two commentaries (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) in the Anchor Bible series, among numerous other articles and books. His teaching career began in Vancouver, but spent the bulk of his academic career at McGill and Princeton. He was a founding member of the CSBS, its first secretary-treasurer, and served as president of the CSBS in 1971-71. He also was president of the SBL in 1960. The CSBS has an annual prize named for Dr. Scott for an outstanding book in the area of Hebrew Bible or the ancient Near East.
- John William Wevers. A preeminent Septuagint scholar, Wevers also wrote in the area of Hebrew Bible. He spent his academic career at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. His work on the LXX Pentateuch in the GÃ¶ttingen Septuagint series as well as his accompanying Notes on… series will serve generations of students and scholars alike.
- Ronald J. Williams. Professor at the University of Toronto, Prof. Williams authored many books, including the still valuable Hebrew Syntax: An Outline. He was president of the CSBS in 1952-53.
- _____________. Who would you complete the list with?
As you can see, I left the final slot open… who would you think deserves mention in this list? Also, can you think of any female scholars who deserve mention on this list?
If I was going to make a list of the senior Canadian biblical scholars who are still contributing to the field then the list would be quite different — and a bit more difficult since there are many world class Canadian scholars in biblical studies today. I imagine such a list would include the likes of Robert Culley, Paul Dion, Gordon Fee, David Jobling, John Kloppenborg, Al Pietersma, E.J. Revell, Eileen Schuller, John Van Seters, Bruce Waltke, among others.
Any other nominations?