Robert M. Grant (theologian)

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Robert M. Grant
University of Chicago 1978
Robert McQueen Grant

(1917-11-25)November 25, 1917
DiedJune 10, 2014(2014-06-10) (aged 96)
Alma materUnion Theological Seminary
Harvard Divinity School
Scientific career
FieldsNew Testament
Early Christianity
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Doctoral studentsDavid E. Aune

Robert McQueen Grant (November 25, 1917 – June 10, 2014) was an American academic theologian and the Carl Darling Buck Professor Emeritus of Humanities and of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Chicago (in the former Department of New Testament & Early Christian Literature and also in the Divinity School). His scholarly work focused on the New Testament and Early Christianity.


Grant is the son of well-known New Testament scholar Frederick C. Grant and Helen McQueen Grant (née Hardie). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from Northwestern University in 1938; attended the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1938-1939; moved to Columbia University in 1939-1940; and earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1941.[1] In 1942, Grant was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. He went on to earn an S.T.M. in 1942 and a Th.D. in 1944, both from Harvard Divinity School. During this time he also ministered at St James Episcopal Church in South Groveland, Massachusetts.[2]

From 1944 until 1953, Grant served as instructor and ultimately professor of New Testament studies in the School of Theology at the University of the South. He became associate professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1953 and full professor in 1958. In 1973 Grant was named Carl Darling Buck Professor of the Humanities.[2]

Grant’s commitment to the racial desegregation of the South began during his tenure at the University of the South. In 1952, the trustees of the School of Theology voted against the mandate from the provincial synod of the Episcopal Church to admit African Americans to the School. Grant was one of eight theology faculty members who sent a letter of protest to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees charging that the board's decision was unethical. All threatened to resign if the decision were not rescinded. By 1953 all of the eight faculty members had left and been replaced.[3][4] His engagement with civil liberties continued and he joined other ministers and Chicago faculty on the march on Selma in March 1965 after “Bloody Sunday.”

Throughout his career, Grant served as president of a number of professional societies: the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis (1959), the Chicago Society of Biblical Research (1963-1964), the American Society of Church History (1970) and the North American Patristics Society (1975).

Grant was a visiting lecturer at Vanderbilt University (1945-1947), at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (1954-1955) and a visiting professor at Yale University (1964–65). He was also Fulbright Research Professor at the University of Leiden from 1950-1951. He was thrice the recipient of Guggenheim Fellowships (in 1950, 1954 and 1959). Grant was honoured with Doctor of Divinity degrees from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (1969) and the University of Glasgow (1979).

Grant married Margaret Huntington Horton, daughter of American Protestant clergyman and academic leader Douglas Horton, on 21 December 1940. He died at his home in Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois in 2014.[5]


Professor Grant was the most prolific and influential American historian of ancient Christianity of his generation. The author of over thirty-three books and countless articles, Grant’s work was characterized by philological exactness, a deep knowledge of the ancient world, and philosophical and theological finesse, together with a tight prose style and dry wit. He published on a wide range of topics dealing with early Christianity, including the New Testament, the Apostolic Fathers, "Gnosticism", biblical interpretation, the second-century Christian apologists, Origen and Origenism and the Graeco-Roman intellectual background of early Christian writers. He has also published several important studies of U-Boat warfare in World War I, recently reprinted.[6]

Select publications[edit]

  • After the New Testament: Studies in Early Christian Literature and Theology (Philadelphia 1967)
  • Editor of the series The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation and Commentary (New York), and author of
Volume 1, An Introduction (New York 1964)
Volume 2, First and Second Clement (New York 1965)
Volume 4, Ignatius of Antioch (New York 1966)
  • Augustus to Constantine: The Rise and Triumph of Christianity in the Roman World, with a substantial new forward by Margaret M. Mitchell (Louisville 2004)
  • Christian Beginnings: Apocalypse to History (Variorium Reprints 1983)
  • The Earliest Lives of Jesus (Cambridge 1961)
  • Early Christianity and Society: Seven Studies (New York 1977)
  • Early Christians and Animals (New York and London 1999)
  • Eusebius as Church Historian (Oxford 1980)
  • The Formation of the New Testament (New York 1965)
  • Gnosticism: A Source Book Of Heretical Writings From The Early Christian Period (New York 1961)
  • Gnosticism and Early Christianity (New York 1959)
  • Gods and the One God (Library of Early Christianity 1) (Philadelphia 1986)
  • Greek Apologists of the Second Century (Philadelphia 1988)
  • Heresy and Criticism: The Search for Authenticity in Early Christian Literature (Louisville 1993)
  • A Historical Introduction to the New Testament (New York 1963)
  • Irenaeus of Lyons (The Early Church Fathers; London 1997)
  • Jesus After the Gospels: The Christ of the Second Century' (Louisville 1990)
  • The Letter and the Spirit (London 1957)
  • Miracle and Natural Law in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Thought ( Amsterdam 1952)
  • Paul in the Roman World: the Conflict at Corinth (Louisville 2001)
  • Perspectives on Scripture and Tradition: Essays (Notre Dame 1976)
  • Second-Century Christianity: A Collection of Fragments, revised and expanded (Louisville 2003)
  • with David Noel Freedman, The Secret Sayings of Jesus (Garden City, N.Y., 1960)
  • with David Tracy, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, second edition, revised and enlarged (Philadelphia 1984)
  • Theophilus of Antioch: Ad Autolycum (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford 1970)
  • U-Boats Destroyed: The Effects of Anti-Submarine Warfare 1914-1918 (London 1960)
  • U-Boat Hunters: Code Breakers, Divers and the Defeat of the U-boats, 1914-1918 (Annapolis 2003)
  • U-Boat Intelligence: Admiralty Intelligence Division and the Defeat of the U-Boats 1914-1918 (Hampden, CT 1969)



  • William R. Schoedel and Robert L. Wilken (eds.), Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition: In honorem Robert M. Grant (Théologie historique 54; Paris: Éditions Beauchesne, 1979)
  • David E. Aune and Robin Darling Young (eds.), Reading Religions in the Ancient World: Essays presented to Robert McQueen Grant on his 90th Birthday (Supplements to Novum Testamentum 125; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2007)


  1. ^ W. R. Schoedel and R. L. Wilken (eds.), Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition (Paris 1979), 7.
  2. ^ a b Schoedel and Wilken, Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition, 7.
  3. ^ Araminta Stone Johnston, "And One was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray, Jr" (Jackson, MS 2010)
  4. ^ Gardiner H. Shattuck Jr, "Episcopalians and Race: Civil War to Civil Rights" (lexington, KY 2000)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-12. Retrieved 2014-06-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Robert M. Grant, 1917-2014 | The University of Chicago Divinity School". 1917-11-25. Archived from the original on 2014-07-12. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  7. ^

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