Francis Crawford Burkitt

1864-1935. Biblical and patristic scholar. After taking his degree at Cambridge, he settled there and was Norrisian/Norris Hulse professor of divinity from 1905 until his death. He did important work on the Syriac text of the NT and in 1904 published a two-volume edition of the Old Syriac Gospels, entitled Evangelion da-Mepharreshe. He contributed an important article on the text and versions of the NT in Encyclopaedia Biblica (vol. 4, 1903). His best-known work is The Gospel History and Its Transmission (1906). He followed Johannes Weiss* in rejecting the views of liberal Protestantism and making an eschatological interpretation of the mission and teaching of Jesus. In a small book, The Earliest Sources for the Life of Jesus (2nd ed. 1922), he referred to “the stormy and mysterious Personage portrayed by the second Gospel.” He was influential in arranging for the publication in an English edition of Schweitzer's* famous work The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1910). Burkitt was a man of original mind with a gift for clarity and an extraordinary range of academic interests, After his death the Journal of Theological Studies set apart a whole issue as a memorial to him, dealing among other things with his work on Gnosticism, on Manichaeism, and on Franciscan studies.

See S.C. Neill, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961 (1964), pp. 114f.; E.C. Ratcliff, “Francis Crawford Burkitt,” in JTS XXXVI (1935), pp. 225-53.