Free Online Bible Library | Sir William Mitchell Ramsay

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Sir William Mitchell Ramsay

1851-1939. Classical scholar and archaeologist. Born in Glasgow, he studied at the universities of Aberdeen, Oxford, and (briefly) Göttingen. During 1880-90 and 1900-14 he engaged in extensive exploration among the antiquities of W Turkey. He was the first professor of classical art and archaeology at Oxford (1885-86) and then professor of humanity (i.e., Latin) at Aberdeen (1886-1911). His chief significance lies in his contribution to classical archaeology and geography. His The Historical Geography of Asia Minor (1890) lays the foundation for all future work in this area, and his Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (1895 and 1897), Asianic Elements in Greek Civilization (1927), and The Social Basis of Roman Power in Asia Minor (1941) are still standard works.

He also made important contributions to the study of the NT. His early work, The Church in the Roman Empire before a.d. 170 (1893), set the tone of his future writings, but it is his St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen (1895) which is best known. Though he had earlier accepted the conclusions of radical German scholarship concerning the historicity of Acts (see F.C. Baur), his study led him to an increasingly high estimate of Luke as a historian. His work on the NT served to fill in the historical background for the life of Paul, establish the so-called South Galatian destination of the epistle to the Galatians, and commend the historical reliability of the Lucan writings to scholars. His principal writings were a series of articles in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible (1898- 1904), A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (1899), Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (1904), and The Cities of St. Paul (1907).

See W.H. Buckler and W.M. Calder (eds.), Anatolian Studies presented to Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1923); and W.W. Gasque, Sir William M. Ramsay: Archaeologist and New Testament Scholar (1966): with bibliography and indexes.

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