Bruce Metzger

Bruce Metzger

Bruce Manning Metzger (9 February, 1914, Middletown, Pennsylvania13 February, 2007, Princeton, New Jersey) was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society. He was a scholar of Greek, New Testament and Old Testament Bible, and wrote prolifically on these subjects.


Metzger earned his BA at Lebanon Valley College in 1935, and then entered Princeton Theological Seminary to gain his ThB in 1938. He stayed at Princeton as Teaching Fellow in New Testament Greek. The following year, he was ordained in the United Presbyterian Church. In 1940, he earned his MA from Princeton University and changed post to be Instructor in New Testament. Two years later, he earned his PhD from the same institution.

In 1944, Metzger married Isobel Elizabeth Mackay, daughter of the third president of the Seminary, John A. Mackay. That same year, he was promoted to Assistant Professor. In 1948, he became Associate Professor, and full Professor in 1954. In 1964, Metzger's chair was named the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature. In 1971, he was elected president of both the Studiorum Novi Testimenti Societas and the International Society of Biblical Literature. The following year, he became the first president of the North American Patristic Society. Metzger was visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 1974 and Wolfson College, Oxford in 1979. He retired at the age of seventy in 1984 as Professor Emeritus. In 1994, Bruce Metzger was honoured with the Burkitt Medal for Biblical Studies by the British Academy. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Lebanon Valley College, Findlay College, University of St Andrews, the University of Münster and Potchefstroom University.

Shortly after his 93rd birthday, Metzger passed away. He was survived by his wife Isobel and their two sons John Mackay Metzger and James Bruce Metzger.

Books and commentaries

Metzger edited and provided commentary for many Bible translations and wrote dozens of books. He was one of the editors of the United Bible Societies' standard Greek New Testament, the starting point for nearly all translations of the New Testament in recent decades. In 1952, he became a contributor to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, and became general editor of the "Reader's Digest Bible" (a condensed version of the RSV) in 1982. From 1977 to 1990, he also chaired the Committee on Translators for the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible and was "largely responsible for ... seeing [the NRSV] through the press." [ Obituary] from Society of Biblical Literature] He considered it a great privilege to present the NRSV — which includes the books referred to as Apocrypha by Protestants, though Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox consider deuterocanonical — to Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Demetrius I of Constantinople.

Metzger's commentaries often utilize historical criticism and higher criticism, which attempt to explain the literary and historical origins of the Bible and the biblical canon. For instance, Metzger argues that the early church which assembled the New Testament did not consider divine inspiration to be a sufficient criterion for a book to be canonized. Metzger says that for the early church, it was very important that a work describing Jesus' life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus, and in fact considered other works such as "The Shepherd" of Hermas and the "Epistles of Clement" to be inspired but not canonical. Because of such views, he was criticized by some Christian fundamentalists (but not most evangelicals). [One rather vitriolic example is [ "Editors of the UBS Greek New Testament"] , by David W. Cloud, Way of Life Literature 2001, in which Metzger is labelled "an unbeliever", "a false teacher", "apostate" and "a heretic".]

List of Books and Publications

* "Apostolic Letters of Faith, Hope, and Love: Galatians, 1 Peter, and 1 John" (2006)
* "The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration" (1964). 2005 4th edition with Bart D. Ehrman, ISBN 0-19-516122-X
* "The New Testament: Its Background, Growth and Content" (2003, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge; ISBN 9780227170250)
* "The Oxford Essential Guide to Ideas and Issues of the Bible" (2002 with Michael D. Coogan)
* "The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible" (2001 with Michael D. Coogan)
* "The Bible in Translation, Ancient and English Versions" (2001)
* "Greek New Testament" (2000 with B. Aland)
* "Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation: Leader's Guide" (1999)
* "Reminiscences of an Octogenarian" (1997)
* "The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance" (1997)
* "Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament" (1994)
* "The Oxford Companion to the Bible" (1993 with Michael D. Coogan)
* "The Reader's Bible" (1983)
* "Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek" (1969)
* "List of Words Occur ing Frequently in the Coptic New Testament (Sahidic Dialect)" (1961) - note: "occur ing" is misspelled in the published title
* "Introduction to the Apocrypha" (1957)
* "The Oxford Concise Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible" (with Isobel M. Metzger)

List of Translations

* "The NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Compact Edition" (2003)
* "New Revised Standard Version" (1989)
* "Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: Revised Standard Version" (1977)
* "The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version, Expanded Edition" (1977 with Herbert G. May)
* "Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: The Apocrypha of the Old Testament" (1977)


External links

* [ Obituary in the "Trentonian"]
* [ Obituary] from Society of Biblical Literature
* [ Tribute] from Ben Witherington
* [ Tribute] from Daniel B. Wallace
* [ Obituary in "The Independent", (pub.22/02/07)]

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