Ian Howard Marshall, a gentle giant among New Testament scholars, died December 12 from pancreatic cancer. He was 81.
Marshall was the honorary research professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland, where he taught for three decades. He was former editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and author of Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away, Luke: Historian and Theologian, The Origins of New Testament Christology, and many other works.
Marshall was one of the great British evangelical scholars of the second half of the 20th century. “New Testament interpretation will be much poorer as a result of his death, and I doubt we will see another like him for some time,” said Stanley E. Porter, professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario.
Porter, who met Marshall as a doctoral student, said Marshall was also a fabulous mentor and example to younger scholars. He was “honest, interested, and humble—besides, of course, being firmly evangelical in the best sense,” said Porter.
At the beginning of his career, Marshall’s approach to the New Testament seemed antiquated, and he was one of only a few well-known evangelical scholars in the 1970s, said N. T. Wright, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at St. Andrews University.
“He was courageous, wise, personally gracious, immensely hard working, and productive, both a role model and a support for the next generation,” Wright told CT. “Wide in his sympathies while definite in his convictions, he kept alive a flame that many feared—and some liberals hoped—would go out altogether.”
Marshall was not just an outstanding scholar; he was a devout Christian who was both honorable and enjoyable, said Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.
“He had a refreshing humility that belied his status as a leading scholar,” said Witherington. “He was so very friendly and had that good Scottish wit.”
Marshall also embodied many ideals for conducting Christian discourse. He was clear about his convictions “but was never disagreeable,” said Witherington. “He believed that if you wanted to win some to your views, you needed to be winsome.”
Marshall, as a scholar and a gentleman, will be greatly missed, said Nicholas Perrin, professor of biblical studies at Wheaton College. “Howard Marshall was a giant in the world of evangelical New Testament scholarship and a force to be reckoned with across the whole guild,” he told CT. “Many of today’s active New Testament scholars studied under Marshall; many more were shaped by his writings or his personal presence. His passing is a loss to us all.”