E. W. Bullinger

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Ethelbert William Bullinger
E.W. Bullinger.jpg
E. W. Bullinger
Born 15 December 1837
Canterbury, Kent, England
Died 6 June 1913(1913-06-06) (aged 75)
London, England
Education King's College London
Occupation clergyman, Biblical scholar, and theologian
Known for The Companion Bible

Ethelbert William Bullinger AKC (December 15, 1837 – June 6, 1913) was an Anglican clergyman, Biblical scholar, and ultradispensationalist theologian.

Life and work[edit]

He was born in Canterbury, Kent, England, the youngest of five children of William and Mary (Bent) Bullinger.[1] His family traced their ancestry back to Heinrich Bullinger, the Swiss Reformer.[2]

His formal theological training was at King's College London from 1860–1861, earning an Associate degree.[3] After graduation, on October 15, 1861, he married Emma Dobson, thirteen years his senior.[4] He later received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1881 from Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury who cited Bullinger's "eminent service in the Church in the department of Biblical criticism."[5]

Bullinger's career in the Church of England spanned 1861 until 1888. He began as associate curate in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey in 1861,[4] and was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1862.[6] He served as parish curate in Tittleshall from 1863–1866; Notting Hill from 1866–1869; Leytonstone, 1869–1870; then Walthamstow until he became vicar of the newly established parish of St. Stephen's in 1874. He resigned his vicarage in 1888.[7]

In the spring of 1867, Bullinger became clerical secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society, a position he would hold till his death in 1913.[8] Bullinger was editor of a monthly journal Things to Come subtitled A Journal of Biblical Literature, with Special Reference to Prophetic Truth. The Official Organ of Prophetic Conferences for over 20 years (1894–1915) and contributed many articles.

In the great Anglican debate of the Victorian era, he was a Low Churchman rather than High Church sacerdotalist.

His three major works were

  • A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (1877) ISBN 0-8254-2096-2;
  • Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1898) ISBN 0-8010-0559-0
  • Primary editor of The Companion Bible (published in 6 parts, 1909–1922) ISBN 0-8254-2177-2. It was completed after his death by his associates.

These works and many others remain in print (2007).

Bullinger's friends included well-known Zionist Dr. Theodor Herzl.[9] This was a personal friendship, but accorded with Bullinger's belief in a Biblical distinction between the Church and the Jewish People. Another close personal and theological friend was the famous Sir Robert Anderson.[10]

Trinitarian Bible Society[edit]

In 1867, at age 29, Bullinger accepted the office of clerical secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS), an office which he exercised, with rare lapses due to illness in his later years, until his death. Accomplishments of TBS during his secretariat include:

  • Completion and publication of a Hebrew version of the New Testament under a TBS contract with Christian David Ginsburg after the demise of Isaac Salkinson.
  • Publication of Ginsburg's first edition of the Tanakh (Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible).
  • Formation (1885) of the Brittany Evangelical Mission Society under Pasteur LeCoat and translation of the Bible into the Breton language.[11]
  • First-ever Protestant Portuguese Reference Bible.
  • Distribution of Spanish-language Bibles in Spain after the Spanish Revolution of 1868.

Bullinger was also a practiced musician. As part of his support for the Breton Mission, he collected and harmonized several previously untranscribed Breton hymns on his visits to Trémel, Brittany.

Bullinger and Ginsburg parted ways, and another edition of Tanakh was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.


Bullinger's views were often unique, and sometimes controversial. He is so closely tied to what is now called "Ultradispensationalism" that it is sometimes referred to as Bullingerism.[12] Noted dispensationalist Harry A. Ironside (1876–1951) declared Bullingerism an "absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth". [13] Bullingerism differs from mainstream dispensationalism with regard to the beginning of the church. Mainstream dispensationalism holds that the Church began at Pentecost as described early in the New Testament book entitled "Acts of the Apostles". In stark contrast, Bullinger held that the Church, which the Apostle Paul revealed as the Body of Christ, began after the close of Acts,[14] only revealed in the Prison Epistles of the Apostle Paul.[15] Other dispensationalists (often described as "mid-Acts" dispensationalists, i.e., Acts 9 or 13) hold that the Church, the Body of Christ, began at or shortly after Saul's conversion.

Bullinger described dispensations as divine "administrations" or "arrangements" wherein God deals at distinct time periods and with distinct groups of people "on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct". He emphasizes that "Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another.",[16] and lists seven dispensations:

Dispensational Scheme of Bullinger
Edenic state of Innocence Period "without law" Period under the Law Period of Grace Epoch of Judgment Millennial Age The Eternal State of Glory
Genesis 1-3
ended with the expulsion from Eden
Genesis 4 to Exodus 19
ended with the flood and judgment on Babel
Exodus 20 to Acts 28
ended at the rejection by Israel of the grace of God
at the end of Acts
Church History
will end at the Day of the Lord
will end at the destruction of the Antichrist
Rev 20:4-6
will end with the destruction of Satan
Rev 20-22 will not end

Outside of ultradispensationalism, many other examples of Bullinger's unique views can be found. For example, Bullinger argues that Jesus was crucified with four, not just two, criminals.[17] Bullinger argued for mortality of the soul, the cessation of the soul between death and resurrection.[18] While Bullinger did not express any views concerning the final state of the lost, many of his followers did hold to annihilationism. Bullinger was also a member of the Universal Zetetic Society,[19] a group dedicated to believing and promoting the idea that the earth is flat.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p.27
  2. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 28-29
  3. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 35
  4. ^ a b E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 39
  5. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp.62
  6. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p.40, states July 6, 1862.
  7. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp.42-47, 55, 65
  8. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp. 71-73
  9. ^ Rhoades, Richard (10 July 2013). Lady Liberty: The Ancient Goddess of America. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. p. 243. ISBN 9781475974867. 
  10. ^ http://www.newble.co.uk/anderson/bulletter.html
  11. ^ "THE STORY OF PASTEUR LECOAT. The Breton Mission At Tremel" (PDF). As Dr. E. W. Bullinger so aptly points out in his book, The Story of the Breton Mission, M. Lecoat had returned to a land of a corrupt religion... an organised crusade was begun to graft the Romish religion on to that of the Druids. Many of the tall-standing stones were transformed into crosses, but, where the stone was too hard for the mason's chisel, crosses and crucifixes were fastened to them. Dr. Bullinger tells how that in one vear no less than five thousand were so transformed by the then Bishop of St. Pol de Leon.  line feed character in |quote= at position 244 (help)
  12. ^ Elwell, Walter A. (1984). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-3413-2.  p. 1120
  13. ^ Harry A. Ironside. "Wrongly Diving the Word of Truth: Ultra-Dispensationalism Examined in the Light of the Holy Scriptures. Chapter 1: What is Ultra-Dispensationalism?". Having had most intimate acquaintance with Bullingerism as taught by many for the last forty years, I have no hesitancy in saying that its fruits are evil. It has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and breadth of this and other lands, it has divided Christians and wrecked churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated, it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth. 
  14. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 181: The Dispensational Position of the Book of the "Acts"". "all the truth"...was reserved, and not permitted to be revealed, until the public proclaiming of "the kingdom" had ended, after the close of the "Acts". (See Notes on the Epp., specially Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.) Then it was, at the commencement of this present interim period during which "blindness in part is happened to Israel" (Romans 11:25), that "the church which is His body" (Ephesians 1:22, 23) began to be formed "to the praise of the glory of His grace" (Ephesians 1:6, and Note on 15:14) 
  15. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 192. THE PAULINE EPISTLES.". It is ignorance of this Divinely given standard that results in the deplorable attempts to "square" the teachings of our Lord in the Gospels, which concern the kingdom of heaven (Ap. 114) and the Jewish Polity, with the teaching of Paul the apostle and bondservant of Jesus Christ in the Church Epistles. And so, when it is found that they cannot be "squared", we have the unseemly utterances and procedure of those who throw over the "Pauline doctrine", as they term it, in favor of "the teaching of Jesus", with contemptuous references to "the Hellenistic tendencies of Paul's mind", &c.; and such statements as "the Master's words must be preferred to a disciple's; "we must get back to Jesus", and so on. 
  16. ^ "Companion Bible, Appendix 195: THE DIFFERENT AGES AND DISPENSATIONS OF GOD'S DEALINGS WITH MEN.". Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another. To connect with God said and did in one dispensation with another, in which His administration was on an altogether different principle, is to ensure error. And finally, to take doctrine of late revelation and read it into the time when it was "hidden" leads to disaster. The nations, Israel the Chosen Nation, and the church (Ap 186) are each dealt with in distinct "times" and on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct. 
  17. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 164: The "Others" Crucified With The Lord (Matt. 27:38 and Luke 23:32).". Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord. But Scripture does not say so...it is clear [from cited Scriptural evidence] that there were four "others" crucified with the Lord...To show that we are not without evidence, even from tradition, we may state that there is a "Calvary" to be seen at Ploubezre near Lannion, in the Cotes-du-Nord, Brittany, known as Les Cinq Croix ("The Five Crosses"). There is a high cross in the center, with four lower ones, two on either side. 
  18. ^ Bullinger, E. W. (1902). The Rich Man and Lazarus or "The Intermediate State". London: Eyrie & Spottiswood. 
  19. ^ Samuel Shenton (1966). The Plane Truth (PDF). International Flat Earth Research Society. p. 2. 


  • Carey, Juanita S. (1988). E.W. Bullinger: A Biography. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2372-4. 

External links[edit]

For more information on Bullinger's dispensationalism go here : E.W. Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible - Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Times and Dispensations" and here : E.W. Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible".