Yesterday, 12 December 2015, I. Howard Marshall passed from this world at the age of 81. Marshall was a conservative evangelical scholar whose work combined a high regard for the authority of Holy Scripture with a conviction that we are called to study it with the full use of our minds.
He made major contributions to many areas within New Testament studies. He published commentaries on many books of the NT, a New Testament Theology, a book on the doctrine of Inspiration, reference Bible dictionaries, works on NT interpretation methods, many articles, and the list goes on.
He has a special place in my heart because he was not just an academic scholar who stood aloof from the church. He spanned the gulf between the church and the academy. And moreover, he was a NT scholar who emphasized mission. He claimed that “New Testament theology is essentially missionary theology.” Here is the broader context of that claim:
New Testament theology is essentially missionary theology. By this I mean that the documents came into being as the result of a two-part mission, first, the mission of Jesus sent by God to inaugurate his kingdom with the blessings that it brings to people and to call people to respond to it, and then the mission of his followers called to continue his work by proclaiming him as Lord and Savior, and calling people to faith and ongoing commitment to him, as a result of which his church grows. The theology springs out of this movement and is shaped by it, and in turn the theology shapes the continuing mission of the church. The primary function of the documents is thus to testify to the gospel that is proclaimed by Jesus and his followers. Their teaching can be seen as the fuller exposition of that gospel. They are also concerned with the spiritual growth of those who are converted to the Christian faith. They show how the church should be shaped for its mission, and they deal with those problems that form obstacles to the advancement of the mission. In short, people who are called by God to be missionaries are carrying out their calling by the writing of Gospels, letters and related material. They are concerned to make converts and then to provide for their nurture, to bring new believers to birth and to nourish them to maturity.
I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 34–35.
Here are two other tributes put out in honor of Marshall:
- A Brief Tribute to I. Howard Marshall by Stanley Porter
- I. Howrad Marshall, NT Scholar, Dies at 81 by Ray Van Neste at TGC
He will be greatly missed. May he rest in the fullness of joy!