Reginald H. Fuller

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For other people named Reginald Fuller, see Reginald Fuller (disambiguation).

Reginald Horace Fuller (March 24, 1915 – April 4, 2007) was an Anglo-American Biblical scholar, ecumenist, and Anglican priest. His works are recognized for their consequential analysis of New Testament Christology.[1] One aspect of his work is on the relation of Jesus to the early church and the church today. For this, his analysis, which uses the historical-critical method, has been described as neo-orthodox.[2]

Life events[edit]

Fuller attended Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge (B.A., 1937, First Class Hon., Classical Tripos I and Theological Tripos II; M.A., 1942). He studied at the University of Tübingen, Germany in 1938-39. He prepared for ministry in the Church of England at the Queen's College, Birmingham (1939–40) and was ordained a deacon in 1940 and a priest in 1941. He met Ilse Barda in 1940 at a wedding. In 1942 they met at another wedding, their own. Fuller was a curate in England from 1940 to 1950 and lectured in theology at the Queen's College, 1946-50. He was professor of theology and Hebrew at St. David's College, Lampeter, Wales (1950–55). He also assisted in raising three daughters.

Fuller became a U.S. resident in 1955. He was professor of New Testament at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill., languages and literature (1955–1966), Union Theological Seminary and Columbia (adj.), NYC (1966–72), and Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria (1972–85; adj., 1994–2002). Fuller was also visiting professor at nine other seminaries or colleges in the United States, Canada, and Australia: University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. (1960, ..., 1988, 7 terms), Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Ca.(1975), College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada (1978), Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va. (1985), Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Tx. (1986), Nashotah House, Wis. (1986, ..., 2004, 7 terms), St. Mark's College of Ministry, Canberra, Australia (1987), and Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. (1990).[3]

Fuller was a member of World Council of Churches study commissions (1957–61), Episcopal-Lutheran Conversations (1969–72, 1977–80), Anglican-Lutheran Conversations (1970–72), and Lutheran-Catholic (U.S.) Dialogue Task Force (1971–73), and the New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation Committee (1981–2006).

Fuller authored some twenty books and over 100 journal articles or book chapters. He also translated such works as Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship (1948) and Letters and Papers from Prison (1953), Jeremias's Unknown Sayings of Jesus (1957), Bultmann's Kerygma and Myth, 2 v. (1953 & 1962) and Primitive Christianity (1956), Schweitzer's Reverence for Life (with Ilse Fuller) (1969), and Bornkamm's The New Testament: A Guide to Its Writings (1973).

Fuller was a fellow of the American Association of Theological Schools, 1961-62. He was president of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, 1983-84 He was recipient of the first annual Ecumenism Award from the Washington Theological Consortium (2001) and of honorary degrees from among others General Theological Seminary (S.T.D.), Philadelphia Divinity School (S.T.D.), and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (D.D.).

Fuller became Professor Emeritus at Virginia Theological Seminary in 1985 and a U.S. citizen in 1995. He was Hon. Canon, St. Paul's Cathedral, Burlington, Vt., and Priest in Residence, Emmanuel Church at Brook Hill, Richmond, Va.

The Foundations of New Testament Christology[edit]

Reginald H. Fuller's treatise, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (1965),[4] illustrates aspects of his scholarly publications. The book defines key terms, states assumptions, describes the method used, and develops implications in cumulative fashion. Thus, 'Christology' (the doctrine of Jesus Christ's person) refers to a response to a particular history, not the action of God in Jesus as such nor the history itself. Analysis of New Testament Christology begins with the disciples' belief in the resurrection. It is concerned with "what can be known of the words and works of Jesus" and how these were interpreted. 'Foundations of New Testament Christology' is foundational in referring to presuppositions of NT writers rather than to the theology of their finished product (pp. 15–17). The book considers the response of the early church as to conceptual tools available in successive environments of Palestinian Judaism, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Graeco-Roman gentile world. "What can be known" of the historical Jesus and the early church's mission depends on critical methods and tests applied to documents from the gentile mission. Such methods and tests distinguish the knowledge of early writers about Jesus, their own theology, and other traditions to which they responded (pp. 17–20). The book makes explicit which elements of sources are accepted as going back to each stratum of the early church. It accepts assignment of a tradition to a specific stratum with:

  • elaboration in case of wide acceptance
  • a summary of the argument in case wide acceptance is lacking
  • elaboration in case a common assignment is rejected or a new assignment is proposed (p. 21).

With the emergence of a post-Bultmann school of "historical-traditio criticism", the concern of the book is "to establish a continuity of the historical Jesus and the christological kerygma of the post-resurrection church." The real continuity, Fuller felt, "was obscured, if not actually denied, by Bultmann's own work," to the disadvantage of the church's proclamation (p. 11).

The book concludes that the christological foundations of the early church (as recoverable from the New Testament and formulations of church fathers) "are also the foundations of Christology today" (p. 257).

See also[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Raymond E. Brown, 1990. "Christology" and "The Resurrection of Jesus," in Raymond E. Brown et al., ed., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, pp. 1354–59, 1373-77.
  2. ^ Douglas Martin, 2007. "Reginald H. Fuller, 92, New Testament Scholar, Dies," The New York Times, April 14.
  3. ^ Who's Who in America 2006, p. 1596.
  4. ^ Reginald H. Fuller, 1965. The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Scribners. ISBN 0-684-15532-X.


  • Arland J. Hultgren and Barbara Hall, ed., 1990. Christ and His Communities: Essays in Honor of Reginald H. Fuller, Forward Movement. ISBN 0-88028-104-9 (Also contains CV, publications list through 1989, & an intimate introductory essay by Ilse Fuller on R.H.F.: the man, churchman, & scholar.)
  • Who's Who in America 2006, p. 1596.
  • Raymond E. Brown, 1990. "Christology" and "The Resurrection of Jesus," in Raymond E. Brown et al., ed., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, pp. 1354–59, 1373-77.
  • The Rev. Steve Schlossberg, 2007. "To Evensong: Reginald Horace Fuller+, 1915–2007," The Missioner. Michaelmas, pp.7-9 (numbered). A remembrance.
  • Douglas Martin, 2007. "Reginald H. Fuller, 92, New Testament Scholar, Dies," The New York Times, April 14.
  • Ellen Robertson, 2007. "The Rev. R.H. Fuller, 92, Dies After a Fall," Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 6.
  • Mary Rourke, 2007. "Reginald Fuller, 92; Biblical Scholar," Los Angeles Times, April 18.
  • 2007. "Reginald H. Fuller, Former VTS Frofessor, Dies at 92," Episcopal Life Online, April 18.
  • Jeremy Davies, 2007. "Reginald Fuller - A Theologian of Stature," The Salisbury Journal, May 24.* Jeremy Davies, 2007. "Reginald Fuller - A Theologian of Stature," The Salisbury Journal, May 24.
  • 2007. "Reginald H. Fuller 1915–2007," SBL Forum, April.
  • 2007. "Canon Reginald Horace Fuller," Church Times, May 11.