Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reuben J. Swanson (1917-2009), RIP

I have just heard, via W. Willker's Textual Criticism discussion list that Reuben J. Swanson has just passed away.

Reuben J. Swanson, born 15 April 1917, was Emeritus Professor of Western Carolina University. He had his S.T.M. and Ph.D. degrees in New Testament Studies from Yale. He was professor of Biblical Studies at Grand View Seminary and Lenoir Rhyne College, where he was chairman of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, prior to his tenure at Western Caroline University.

He also served on the faculties at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, and St. John's Seminary at Camarillo, California. He was an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and served congregations in Michigan, Connecticut, Iowa, North Carolina and Californa.

In the area of New Testament textual criticism Swanson was known above all for his series New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus.

A film about his life produced by his grandson Erik very recently is available on YouTube here. (The film start about 50 seconds into the clip.)

Here is a list of books authored by Swanson.

His visitation will be on Thursday, March 26th at 6 pm at Holy Cross Lutheran Church
5071 Winton Rd Fairfield, OH 45014.

We invite readers to share their memories of Reuben J. Swanson in the comment section.

11 comments:

  1. Memorial Gifts in Honor of Reuben J. Swanson may be given to:
    Holy Cross Lutheran Church
    5071 Winton Rd.
    Fairfield, OH 45014

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  2. The funeral will be held on Thursday, March 26, 2009 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 5071 Winton Rd, Fairfield, Ohio. Bishop Callon Holloway, Jr. will preside. The funeral service will begin at 7 pm. Visitation time with friends and family will begin at 6 pm.

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  3. I never met Reuben Swanson but I doubt that a week goes by without my consulting one of his books. They have a good way of displaying a vast amount of complex data and must have taken many hours of essentially rather tedious work. Of course I always double check with other available sources if I need the information for publication.

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  4. Gary Dykes has some interesting reflections here:
    http://www.biblical-data.org/4therecord/4_record.html

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  5. I remember calling Prof Swanson about ten years ago when I was trying to track down his book on Acts, and finding him helpful, warm and gracious. He must by then have been well into his 80s and was speaking with enthusiasm about the work he was doing on the Pauline letters, which issued in his volumes on Romans, 1 Corinthians and Galatians. Thanks be to God for a gracious Christian gentleman and scholar!

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  6. Two and a half years ago I tried to check a point in one of Swanson's books at the British Library, London. I couldn't find them so I asked a librarian for help, assuming that I must be missing some procedural cue. I think the librarian thought I was making things up and/or that the work was obviously not responsible or worthy of the Library. Then he saw that it had a British publisher and was listed in many prestigious libraries. He realized that the British Library had made an oversight and promised to rectify things and order the books. I trust that they are there now.

    Some of the manuscripts that Swanson used (or facsimilies thereof) are housed in that Library.

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  7. Randall: the same thing goes for Sweden. There was not a single copy of Swanson's works on GNT MSS in the libraries in Sweden, including the major university libraries in Lund and Uppsala, until I bought a large bundle for my seminary in Örebro.

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  8. I think distribution of his books has always been a bit of a problem. As far as I know I have a complete set, but they are the sort of books you always have to go to a fair bit of effort to find and buy. I notice that Tyndale House just had about five volumes in the New Books shelf.

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  9. The Society of Biblical Literature is distributing his books now. See http://www.sbl-site.org/Publications/Books_NTGM.aspx for the page dedicated to his NT Greek Manuscript Series.

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  10. Please note that Dr. Swanson's New Testament Greek Manuscripts can now be purchased from SBL at: http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/Books_NTGM.aspx
    Some of his other works, including the NTGM are available at www.missionbooks.org. Also, look for his upcoming Synopsis of the Gospels from Codex Vaticanus.

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  11. Several years before Reuben's passing, I had several postal communications with him, during which he sent me some rough-draft samples of the research he was doing, most particularly samples of textual variations whereby it was difficult to discern what the original passages may have been. I have Reuben's rough drafts somewhere amongst my clutter (at most a half-dozen typed pages), and it was interesting stuff, somewhat reminding me of the research of Bart Ehrman.

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