Arthur Samuel Peake

1865-1929. English scholar and writer. Born in Leek, Staffordshire, son of a Primitive Methodist* minister, he graduated at Oxford from a scholarship, became in 1889 lecturer at the new Mansfield College, and soon thereafter achieved the rarity for a Nonconformist of a theological fellowship at Merton College. He gave up these prospects to become tutor of the Primitive Methodist (later Hartley) College, Manchester, in 1892, and held that tutorship for the rest of his life, transforming the college and its reputation. In 1904 he became also the first Rylands professor of biblical exegesis at Manchester University, and the first dean of its theological faculty. His many books, though scholarly, were principally directed to a wide, rather than a learned, audience. Best known was the one-volume commentary on the Bible which he edited (1919) and which introduced thousands of students and laymen to biblical criticism.

A member of a church of the Revivalist tradition, he combined a gentle personality, warm evangelical piety, broadly traditional theology, and frank acceptance of literary criticism. This combination enabled him to procure wide acceptance for critical methods. He was perhaps the main British mediator of biblical scholarship in his day, and-though always a layman-the most widely known member of his church. Of ecumenical spirit, he worked hard for the union of the British Methodist churches, though he died before its consummation.

See J.T. Wilkinson (ed.), Arthur Samuel Peake, 1865-1929 (1958).