Geoffrey Bromiley (1915-2009)

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I learned this evening of the passing of Dr. Geoffrey Bromiley, one of the chief translators of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology, and translator and editor of many other major works by European scholars such as Jacques Ellul, Helmut Thielicke, Gerhard Kittel, and Ernst Kasemann.

Most of us barely find time to read these multi-tome works, but Bromiley became famous for translating systematically and authoritatively through these works in order to bring them to an English speaking audience. Indeed, Bromiley functioned somewhat as a bridge between Continental and North American theological contexts. It was, no doubt, a labour of love for Bromiley to serve in this way, especially since Bromiley’s own theological contributions (such as his book on infant baptism and his introductory historical theology text) are often overshadowed by the theological giants whose work he was constantly translating. (To prove the point of Bromiley’s standing in the shadows of these giants, I actually searched for an image of Bromiley via Google images, but failed to find a single image! Indeed, I don’t know that I have ever seen a photo of him!) But perhaps Bromiley’s most well known work is his classic Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth, which is essentially a “little Church Dogmatics” in which Bromiley essentially summarizes the contents of Barth’s 13 volume work. Though nothing replaces reading Barth, if you simply don’t have time or desire, but need a good summary, Bromiley’s your man.

Bromiley served on the Fuller Theological Seminary faculty for many years, retiring in 1987, but continuing his editing and translation works right up to his death. A brief obituary can be found at the Fuller Seminary site.

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4 thoughts on “Geoffrey Bromiley (1915-2009)

  1. Archie Spencer

    A sad day to be sure David. I think he has been one of the most unsung scholars of our time. Where would many of us be in theology today if it were not for Bromiley’s translation efforts. A monumental scholar as far as I am concerned. Keep blogging friend.

  2. Much of what he translated were tough enough works to read let alone translate. It says something about the man that he was content to translate more than originate works. He served the Church well by his efforts.

  3. Hendrika Vande Kemp

    He was not only a great translator, he was also a gentle, gracious, loving person. I knew him for many years as a colleague at Fuller Theological Seminary, and remember him with great fondness and respect.

  4. Cyle

    Particularly enjoyed his “Historical Theology.” It is too bad he never wrote more; though I imagine he would have if he had the time! Here’s a link to a picture of him:

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