Earle Ellis, RIP

UPDATE 3/5/10: Southwestern Seminary has posted its news release and tribute to Dr. Ellis here.


I received news today that E. Earle Ellis passed away last night. He was research professor of theology emeritus at Southwestern Seminary, and a prolific scholar of the New Testament. As Russell Moore notes, “he believed the Bible when that wasn’t cool in the SBC.” We were all waiting for the appearance of his commentary on 1 Corinthians for the International Critical Commentary series. He was the consummate scholar and widely respected in the worldwide guild of New Testament Studies. He will be missed.

SWBTS will be issuing a statement in due course. In the meantime, here’s a brief biographical piece from last year on Dr. Ellis. The following is an excerpt:

Ellis was born to Lindsey Thornton and Lois Belle McBride Ellis on March 18, 1926, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and was raised in the nearby town of Dania. After serving in the United States Army from 1944 to 1946, Ellis began to show his academic capabilities as he completed his pre-law Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Virginia (UVa) in 1950, with concentrations in law, economics, political science and history. Although Ellis spent a year in the University of Virginia School of Law and intended to enter into a career in law, he began to develop a God-given thirst for Scripture that supplanted his desire to study law. He then studied for a time at Faith Seminary in Wilmington, Del., but soon moved to the Wheaton Graduate School in Wheaton, Ill., where he received his M.A and B.D. degrees by 1953. Two years later, he was awarded with a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh…

Ellis has made significant written contributions to New Testament scholarship, specifically in the areas of Pauline studies, the history of the apostolic church, and the formation of the New Testament. But he also founded the Institute for Biblical Research and the International Reference Library for Biblical Research.


  • David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers

    I was Dr. Ellis’ grader and research assistant while I was in doctoral studies at SWBTS. He was a fine Christian, churchman, and gentleman. He was an internationally recognized scholar with an admired reputation, all while being Baptist and holding to some strong conservative perspectives about Scripture. He was a brilliant scholar who insisted on rigorous analysis of the text. His discipline was a model for encouraging Baptists to demonstrate their beliefs with strong biblical scholarship.

  • John Mark Harris

    I had Dr. Ellis For several classes at the MDiv level & above. He is my model of what a scholar should be.

    I think he would laugh if anyone says “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” at his funeral. I hope they do. I so wish I could be there.

    I hope someone does something with his 1 Cor. Work.

  • Juan A. Carmona

    Dr. E. Earle Ellis, among the

    wonderful bibilical scholars and

    theologians that I had for

    professors, was the one who

    taught me how to do a rigorous

    and critical-analytical study

    of the Bible, especially

    the New Testament. While I

    sometimes considered his

    methodology a “nuisance,” this

    “nuisance” has borne me along

    the stream of biblical studies

    as applied to the professional

    practice of the ministry.

    Thanks be to God for Earle.

    Juan A. Ayala-Carmona, D. Min.

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