Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

R.I. P. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1915-2009)

I just learned of the passing of  one of the giants in church history and historical theology, who  also made a gigantic impact on theology through his translations of German works into English.  Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1915-2009) passed away on 07 August 2009.  Bromiley was born in Lancashire, England (U.K.) in 1915.  He earned an M.A. at Cambridge University and a Ph.D., DLitt, and DD from Edinburgh University. Ordained a priest in the Church of England, Bromiley served as a Rector of St. Thomas’ Church, Edinburgh.  In 1958, Bromiley was called to be Professor of Church History  at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA–retiring from that post in 1987. 

Bromiley wrote several volumes of theology, including a one-volume Historical Theology, but his largest impact on theology has to be his translations.  Bromiley translated many of the volumes of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics from German, translated the 10 volumen Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed, Gerhard Kittel, etc.), translated all 3 volumes of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology, as well as works by Helmut Thielicke, Jacques Ellul, and Ernst Kasemann.  Most recently,  Bromiley translated  the 5 volume Encyclopedia of Christianity from the German, completing the 5th volume in 2007 at the age of 92!

Students and colleagues at Fuller Theological Seminary describe Bromiley as combining scholarship with a strong dedication to the Word of God. 

Rest in peace, faithful pilgrim.

August 12, 2009 - Posted by | Obituaries


  1. Michael, thank you for sharing this.

    Dr. Bromiley was long retired when I arrived at Fuller, but I was able to take his Barth Seminar. The saying is that in his translation, he made Barth understandable — even to Germans.

    My mentor, Dr. James Bradley, is the current holder of the Bromiley Chair at Fuller. So, I guess I’m kind of a spiritual heir of Geoffrey Bromiley.

    Comment by Bob Cornwall | August 12, 2009

  2. R.I.P. Dr. Bromley. And Michael why don’t you read some of Edward Schillebeeckx work ? Try “I Am a Happy Theologian” and/or “Jesus in our Western Culture”…

    Comment by Paul | August 12, 2009

  3. Paul, I have wanted to make time to read Schillebeeckx. I know he’s an important scholar.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 12, 2009

  4. You will enjoy his books and his wisdom Michael…

    Comment by Paul | August 13, 2009

  5. While I have no doubt that the man was a brilliant person, enabling the Worterbuch, should not be remembered as a great thing: it has disembowed true Christianity.

    Comment by Elizabeth K. Best | August 13, 2009

  6. I think he also did the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia–the newer one, that is.

    Comment by James Pate | August 13, 2009

  7. Well, I obviously disagree, Elizabeth. No dictionary is perfect, and both TDNT and its evangelical rival, The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, encouraged over-reading of theological meanings in just isolated words, instead of phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc. (See James Barr’s critique in The Semantics of Biblical Language.) But even all these years later TDNT remains a major resource that no pastor’s study should be without.
    And, yes, I know that Gerhard Kittel, who edited the German edition of the TDNT, was a Nazi and an anti-semite. I am not Kittel fan, and I don’t think Bromiley was. But I’ve looked hard and not seen much evidence of anti-semitism in TDNT itself.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 13, 2009

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