F.F. Bruce: A Life – A Book Review

There has long been a need for a full biography of the F.F. Bruce, a scholar whose work proved deeply influential on the development of the Evangelical church in the 20th Century. For that reason I was delighted when Paternoster sent me a review copy of Tim Grass’s F.F Bruce: A Life

Having spent a considerable time interviewing friends and colleagues of Bruce around the globe, Tim Grass offers a thorough and at times humourous account of FFB’s life. This is combined with a judicious analysis of both his writings and the development of his thought on a wide range of theological subjects. With such an influential figure it will, I am sure, prove tempting for some to tick-off those subjects on which one agreed or disagreed with Bruce. However, the author attempts to identify how Bruce’s background and upbringing influenced his theology in a number of ways and so will perhaps help readers to recognise their own presuppositions more clearly. The author discusses both Bruce’s strengths and weaknesses and so presents a well-balanced picture of Bruce as a deeply committed Christian and a professional scholar. It is difficult not to be impressed by someone who proofread the entire text of the English translation of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament whilst travelling on the train to work each day!
The final chapter provides an evaluation of Bruce’s profound influence under three headings: His impact on the Brethren; on evangelicalism generally and, finally, on the world of academic biblical studies. An extensive bibliography of FFB’s works rounds off the volume.
FFB is an inspiration by his example as a biblical scholar seeking to be true to the message of Scripture and I highly commend this book to anyone who, like myself, has benefitted from his works.

Blog Interview with Rev Dr David Instone-Brewer

I am very pleased to be able interview Dr David Instone-Brewer about Tyndale House’s S.T.E.P. Project – an initiative that I have been indirectly involved with for several years. In the video below David introduces the Project:


Thanks David for agreeing to be interviewed about the STEP Project. First of all, can you tell me what S.T.E.P. stands for.

Scripture Tools for Every Person. Actually we toyed with the idea of being for “….Every Pastor” but then we realised that everyone else wanted these tools too.

Does the change in the project’s name indicate a development its scope? [Pastor —> Person]

We are making tools which busy pastors can use, interested untrained people, and also well-informed scholars. So “Every Person” is more accurate.  We also wondered about making it “… for every Platform” because part of the idea is that anyone can use them on anything from a phone to a beefy server, but we thought that was too geeky.

Will you need an Internet connection for the software to work properly?

We want to especially help those guys who don’t have reliable internet connections, so we are aiming to make almost everything installable from an SD card or downloadable.

At what stage are you at now?

Some things are working, some things are at prototype, and lots of things are being developed. This is an exciting time.

How can people be involved -­ what do you need help with?

Mostly we need people with good English who can work meticulously and who love the Bible. There are all kinds of projects that need help with all kinds of skills, language work and programming skills to good English editing skills. Have a look at www.TyndaleHouse.com/STEP to explore the different modules,
and click on “we welcome offers of help” to see the variety of skills we are looking for.

How many copies of the software do you plan to distribute and how will this be done?

We have arrangements in place with missionary organisations to distribute tens of thousands to named individuals, but these will just be seeds. All copies can be freely copied and distributed by any means – internet, attachments, SD cards, memory sticks – whatever. And all our data modules will be free for use in other free software.

This means that any work done on this project will benefit the whole church worldwide.

Thank you David for taking the time to share this project with us.

Visitors can find out more about STEP here.

Google update reduces visitor numbers by 1,000 a day

In common with 12% of websites visitor numbers on biblicalstudies.org.uk were adversely effected by changes to Google’s search algorithm on 1st April this year. The update was successful in downgrading sites, known as “link farms” that are loaded with repeated content in order to score more highly in search engine results. Unfortunately being a bibliographic website biblicalstudies.org.uk’s content is superficially similar to these link farms and the new algorithm cannot tell the difference. The unfortunate result is that visitor numbers have dropped from almost 60,000 to just under 40,000, with corresponding drops in revenue from Google ads and Amazon affiliate links that pay for my web hosting. It is as if two years growth has disappeared overnight. Read more about this change on the SEO Desk blog.

All is not lost however, as the fall in visitors has caused me to undertake a crash-course in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques. The best advice, represented by such sites as Seobook.com, is that it is extremely unwise to rely solely on the vagueries of Google for the vast majority of your visitors. The key is building quality links from similar sites. It is also clear from my logs that most of my visitors brought in by search engine results “bounced” off the site straight away. Visitors arriving through links from sites of similar content/subject matter are more likely to stay.

What you can do to help

There are a number of ways that my regular readers can help to restore my ranking.

1) Add a link to the site on your websites and blogs where relevant. When adding a link the highlighted text is important as it tells the search engine the subject matter that is to be found on the site being linked to. For example:

The article on the book of Daniel by Rob Bradshaw is worth consulting and can be found here.

is not as valuable as:

The article on the book of Daniel  by Rob Bradshaw is worth consulting.

because the linking text “here” is not relevant.

2) I have added Google “+1” button on all the pages on the website in the left hand sidebar. You can use this to vote for the site to receive additional attention in Google’s rankings. Because these are “organic” recommendations +1 is expected to be an important innovation

3) Recommend the site and individual pages on Twitter and Facebook as opportunity arises.

4) Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section.

Thanks for your ongoing support.