Volume 32 - Issue 3


by T. A. Noble

This is a detailed and very encouraging history of the development of Tyndale House and the Tyndale Fellowship from 1938, but it is also the story of a bold attack on the citadels of theological Liberalism.

The 1930s and 1940s were a daring time to start such a project, but there was a small group of people who saw the need for evangelicals to confront the overwhelming scholarly consensus, that dismissed them as obscurantist, and to establish a new up-to-date evangelical theological scholarship. A ‘Biblical Research Committee’ was established by the IVF (now UCCF) in 1938, and its Secretary, Douglas Johnson, managed to call a conference of about 20 interested people in 1941. None was a recognized academic scholar in a University. All were committed to equipping a new generation of young scholars, creating a fellowship of like minded people and getting scholarly books written. Very few other evangelicals saw the need for biblical scholarship, but there was virtually no up-to-date scholarly evangelical literature, let alone sympathetic teachers of standing, to help students and the Churches.

Amongst those present there was a tentative suggestion of a residential research library. By 1944 the necessary funds had remarkably been raised by the still very small IVP, and Tyndale House was bought for £4,000 at a time when property was very cheap. One Charitable Trust offered to find one third but the balance was very challenging.

The book recounts the ups and downs of the following years when finance was very short and few able people were available and then the substantial developments that followed. The tenacity of Douglas Johnson enabled some of the few emerging scholars, including F. F. Bruce, Leon Morris, Jim Packer, Howard Marshall and Donald Wiseman, to build up the programme, and other notable people are named. Tyndale House and Fellowship have supplied orthodox teachers to colleges and faculties all over the world and many important books including commentaries and Bible Dictionaries. They have been at the heart of a renewed evangelical scholarship.

Tom Noble records repeated discussion of how to marry an evangelical understanding of Scripture with the then academic tradition, which was aggressively rationalist, so that really scholarly research could be done. Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones in particular stressed that detailed work on particular texts needed to be done in the light of the whole biblical revelation. The academic world had very little or no place for the concept of revelation or the supernatural.

There is much detail about committee structures and names of those who contributed and the author expects some to skip these. The chief value of the book lies in the picture of a bold vision of evangelical advance into a very hostile and an often neglected area, which is in fact crucial to the health of the Church. As the author says it also illustrated that good committee work can provide, what few individuals can, to translate visions into reality. It is good to be made to realize what a dramatic change there has been over these sixty years in literature and attitudes to evangelical scholarship and how much we owe to Tyndale House and Tyndale Fellowship. We thank God and look for much further advance. There is still a long way to go.

Oliver Barclay