F. F. Bruce & W. E. Vine
Most pastors I know, and a few laypeople, have a particular book in their library. It is typically referred to as “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.” It was originally published in four volumes but is available now in a single volume. Vine’s refers to W. E. Vine. Recently a friend of mine, Frank Couch, sent me some information which I find compelling and likely true, but I’ve never read it before. It is in a document from Robert F. Hicks, and it indicates that when Vine was writing his now-famous book, F. F. Bruce, who was destined to becomeone of the finest NT scholars of his age, was hard at work with him.
Hicks it seems is now in charge of the works of the late W. E. Vine. He knows Vine’s immediate family and his personal secretary, John Williamson.
Hicks came to understand through his contact with the surviving family members and his secretary how important F. F. Bruce was to proofing, correcting, checking and adding to Vine’s important work. Bruce and Vine had a great deal in common. They both belonged to the Brethren Church. In the USA, this denomination is known as the Plymouth Brethren. Both men also had a good deal in common academically. Both trained in the Greek classics. Both were well versed in textual criticism and knew the Greek manuscripts behind the New Testament. In addition, both scholars knew well the Greek Old Testament and were familiar with how NT writers read and incorporated the OT into their letters, history and Gospels.
From what Mr. Hicks relates, F. F. was a major contributor to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, a bit of information which I did not know but I now pass on to you. I have to admit that I felt I graduated on from Vine’s decades ago when I picked up my copy of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. As Bruce himself notes in the forward to the single volume versions of Vine’s: “this Expository Dictionary comes as near as possible to doing for the non-specialist what is being done for the specialist by Kittel’s encyclopaedic Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” I now repent in sackcloth and ashes because I’ve had a chance to go back to Vine’s and see what a massive and important work it is, even if it is a bit dated. Vine’s finished his work in the late 1930s, so it is nearly eighty years old.
Vine himself gives praise to Bruce in the Preface to the 1939 edition: “It is with a sense of deep gratitude that I express my indebtedness to a friend Mr. F. F. Bruce, for his wholehearted assistance in going through the typescript and making corrections and valuable suggestions previous to its being printed, and in proofreading subsequently, whose efficiency, as a classical scholar, and whose knowledge of the originals, have enhanced the value of the work.”