Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rev. Dr. Mark Adam Elliott (1956-2007)

David Mathis passed along this news:
Rev. Dr. Mark Elliott went to be with the Lord on Monday, January 8, 2007. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to his family as we rejoice in his homecoming. . . .

Mark held a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen. His studies involved considerable research at Cambridge University and in universities throughout Europe. He served as adjunct professor at the University of Western Ontario and at Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo. Mark ministered at the Frank Street Baptist Church in Wiarton from 1996 to 2006, serving there until he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

He leaves his wife Maureen and children Josh, Kristen and Joel.

So far I know, Elliott's only published book was The Survivors of Israel: A Reconsideration of the Theology of Pre-Christian Judaism. Here is how Craig Blomberg described it in a review:

This hefty volume, the product of an Aberdeen New Testament thesis under I. Howard Marshall, is one of the most significant pieces of research on Jewish backgrounds to the New Testament to have appeared in years. Elliott, now pastor of the Frank Street Baptist Church in Wiarton, Ontario, tackles head-on the consensus that has been established via the ground-breaking work of E. P. Sanders that argues that a nationalistic view of election dominated pre-Christian Judaism. Elliott's thesis in a nutshell is that there are pervasive patterns throughout both the Dead Sea Scrolls and key intertestamental pseudepigrapha (esp. 1 Enoch, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Psalms of Solomon, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch and the Assumption of Moses) that look only for God's blessings to be showered on a faithful remnant of ethnic Israel rather than on the substantial majority of the Jewish people. It is only when one moves to primarily post-A.D. 70 rabbinic literature, which may well not reflect pre-Christian Jewish attitudes, that one begins to find true nationalism as prevalent as Sanders and the many who have followed him claim it was earlier on. . . .

. . . This book is therefore an indispensable work for scholars in virtually every arena of New Testament backgrounds and theology and deserves at least as serious scrutiny as Sanders' major volumes. . . .

In another review Blomberg listed Elliot's tome--along with Simon Gathercole's Where Is Boasting? and Carson/O'Brien/Seifrid's Justification and Variegated Nomism--as a "required starting point" for "theological students and pastors who haven't yet heard of the Sanders-Dunn-Wright trajectory in Pauline studies."

In his own review of the work, Gathercole concludes: "In conclusion, this is a very well-researched, and very significant piece of work. I sincerely hope that the size of book will attract, rather than deter attention. Many scholars, I am sure, would be pleased to produce a book of this quality at the end of their careers. To do so in a first publication is an outstanding achievement."

Blurbing the back cover of his work, I. Howard Marshall wrote, "This is one of the most significant pieces of work I have seen in recent years. . . . Quite simply an outstanding work." Tom Schreiner writes that "Its ramifications for New Testament studies are significant. I believe that if Elliott is correct, the consequences for New Testament theology extend beyond the implications that he himself raises."

Though I didn't know Elliott, it always struck me as significant from afar that someone who would spend that much time doing technical research of this kind--publishing such a massive, learned book--would feel called to become the pastor of a small church.

May God comfort his wife and children during these painful days, and may we thank God for giving Dr. Elliott the time and wisdom to produce such an important book.