Happy Friday everyone! Today’s free download, usually $14.95, is Luke the Physician and Other Studies in the History of Religion by William Mitchell Ramsay. Click here to download.
It has for some time been evident to all New Testament scholars who were not hidebound in old prejudice that there must be a new departure in Lukan criticism. The method of dissection had. failed. When a real piece of living literature has to be examined, it is false method to treat it as a corpse, and cut it in pieces: only a mess can result. The work is alive, and must be handled accordingly. Criticism for a time examined the work attributed to Luke like a corpse, and the laborious autopsy was fruitless. Nothing in the whole history of literary criticism has been so waste and dreary as great part of the modern critical study of Luke. As Professor Harnack says on p. 87 of his new book, “All faults that have been made in New Testament criticism are gathered as it were to a focus in the criticism of the Acts of the Apostles.”
Sir William Ramsay was one of the foremost archaeologists of the nineteenth century — and an avowed atheist. Luke the Physician is a collection of papers written by Ramsay that served as his proof texts of the accounts of the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke. Ramsay was especially impressed how small, seemingly “insignificant” geographical details were recorded exactly right in Luke’s accounts. That, Ramsay claimed, that was the mark of a writer who knows what he is talking about and is careful to tell everything correctly. In fact, Ramsay became so impressed with the truth of Luke’s account that it led him to accept Christ.
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1851, the youngest son of a third-generation lawyer. His father died when he was six years old but with the help of his older brother and maternal uncle they made it possible for him to have a superior education. He studied at the University of Aberdeen, where he achieved high distinction and later became Professor of Humanity. He won a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class in classical moderations (1874) and in literae humaniores (1876). He also studied Sanskrit at Göttingen.
In 1880 Ramsay received an Oxford studentship for travel and research in Greece. At Smyrna, he met Sir C. W. Wilson, then British consul-general in Anatolia, who advised him on inland areas suitable for exploration. Ramsay and Wilson made two long journeys during 1881-1882. He traveled widely in Asia Minor and rapidly became the recognized authority on all matters relating to the districts associated with St Paul’s missionary journeys and on Christianity in the early Roman Empire. Greece and Turkey remained the focus of Ramsay’s research for the remainder of his academic career. He was known for his expertise in the historic geography and topography of Asia Minor and of its political, social, cultural, and religious history.
From 1880 onwards he received the honorary degrees of D.C.L. Oxford, LL.D. St Andrews and Glasgow, and D.D. Edinburgh. He was Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, in 1882. From 1885 to 1886 Ramsay was the first Professor of Classical Archaeology at Oxford University and pioneered the study of antiquity in what is today western Turkey. In 1886 Ramsay was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. In 1906, Ramsay was knighted for his scholarly achievements on the 400th anniversary of the founding of the University of Aberdeen. He was elected a member of learned societies in Europe and America and was awarded medals by the Royal Geographical Society and the University of Pennsylvania. He remained affiliated with Aberdeen until his retirement in 1911. Ramsey passed away in Glasgow in the spring of 1939.
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