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A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195341676
ISBN-10: 0195341678
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"George Ladd was arguably the leading 'new evangelical' biblical scholar in the mid-decades of the twentieth century. He was also a person whose life and work were filled with intriguing tensions and contrasts. John D'Elia tells this poignant and fascinating story well." --George M. Marsden, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Fundamentalism and American Culture

"In this poignant and gracefully written account, John D'Elia unflinchingly but sympathetically recounts the personal and professional torments of George Eldon Ladd. Making extensive use of Ladd's own files, D'Elia sketches the twin paradoxes of Ladd's life: although eager to find 'a place at the table' of the larger scholarly community, Ladd deemed his own efforts towards that end a failure, and although he wrote extensively of the presence of the kingdom, he struggled to taste its fruits in his own life. Ironically, Ladd never truly understood his greatest legacy his crucial role in the development of evangelical biblical scholarship. D'Elia offers a welcome tribute to Ladd's legacy." --Marianne Meye Thompson, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"D'Elia's biography of George Eldon Ladd is powerful and perceptive. He introduces us to a person who is spiritual and ambitious, intelligent and insecure, bold and troubled all at the same time. This is compelling reading for anyone interested in either the intellectual history of Evangelicalism or the movement's continuing struggle to secure and maintain 'a place at the table' of the mainstream scholarship." --Douglas Jacobsen, Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology at Messiah College, and author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement

About the Author


John A. D'Elia is the Senior Minister of the American Church in London. He is a graduate of UCLA, Fuller Theological Seminary, and the University of Stirling in Scotland. He is from Burbank, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195341678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195341676
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Shane Kastler on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a fascinating account of one of the twentieth century's most influential New Testament scholars. George Eldon Ladd had a sharp mind and a strong desire to influence the liberal scholarly community for the Kingdom of God. Though raised and brought to faith in a Dispensational church, Ladd grew up to reject Dispensationalism in favor of Historic Premillennialism, which differentiates from Dispensationalism in that it does not hold to a pre-tribulational rapture, nor a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Christian Church. Ladd was educated at Gordon College (today known as Gordon-Conwell); and after pastoring several New England Baptist churches, earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Though his doctoral studies were under the tutelage of a liberal advisor, Ladd retained his evangelical faith and sought to write a work, from a conservative theological perspective, that even the liberal's of the higher criticism camp, would have to appreciate. Unto this end, Ladd devoted his academic life, and in the process, sacrificed much of his family life.
In many ways, Ladd was a deeply troubled man, as D'Elia depicts in this work. Ladd had a cold relationship with his father, who appears to have been overbearing. And he was jealous of his younger brother, who was always more popular, athletic, and approved of by their father. Ladd eventually marries and has two children, but his commitment (obsession) with his studies leads to an alienation with his wife, and children. Beginning in the 1950's Ladd starts to struggle with alcoholism and eventually sexual sin (D'Elia implies that Ladd probably had an affair while on sabbatical in Germany and also made a pass at the wife of one of his students.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Trevin Wax on October 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fifty years ago, evangelicals were mired in endless debates over theories about the Last Days. Dispensational theology dominated the outlook of most evangelical scholarship and (for many) had become a key doctrine that determined whether one was orthodox or not.

Evangelical scholars found themselves largely ignored by the wider world of academia. Many happily ignored the academy in return. The scholarly dimension of evangelical identity was faltering as the movement was plagued by in-house squabbles and debates.

Into this defining era of evangelical controversy came George Eldon Ladd, professor of New Testament at Fuller Seminary from 1950-82 and one of the most important voices in 20th century evangelicalism. Though Ladd may remain unknown to most evangelicals in the pews, he left a legacy that continues to bear fruit within the evangelical academy. His theology also brought to many evangelical churches a new openness to different eschatological interpretations.

Ladd broke through the sterile debates about whether the kingdom of God was a present, spiritual reality or a future, earthly reality. He popularized a view of the kingdom as having two dimensions: "already/not yet." Ladd was also one of the first solid evangelical scholars to go outside the fundamentalist camp in order to interact with liberal scholars in the academy, men like Rudolph Bultmann.

John A. D'Elia has recently completed a fascinating biographical look at this evangelical theologian. A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America (Oxford University Press, 2008) details Ladd's early life, his conversion and his academic preparation. D'Elia describes the difficulty Ladd had in obtaining his own education.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Bumgardner on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an absolutely fascinating look at the life and academic career of George Eldon Ladd. D'Elia has unprecedented access to primary source material and does an excellent job weaving together an account of Ladd's life. Ladd was driven throughout his career to make a name for himself, as well as a "place at the table" for evangelical scholarship during the emergence of the new evangelicalism. The book emphasizes Ladd's labor to maintain a relatively conservative position in the broader theological world while engaging with that broader theological world in an irenic and constructive manner, providing a model for the new evangelical enterprise which is still followed in evangelicalism today.

This volume helped me in several ways. First, it gave me clarity into the relationship between Ladd and dispensationalism / pretribulationism. More than just research topics, these "-isms" were influential in the conservative milieu in which Ladd existed, and which he was actively seeking to reform. On the one hand, he disagreed with both, and sought to persuade others that they were wrongheaded. On the other hand, he was seeking to promote an atmosphere where one was free to dissent on these non-fundamentals without ostracization from one's conservative circles. Particularly enlightening was the portrayal of John Walvoord as a sort of dispensationalist nemesis to Ladd, with accounts of their interaction.

A second way D'Elia helped me was in detailing the failures of Ladd's personal life in his pursuit of scholarship. His academic achievements (which are unarguably significant) came at quite a cost; the book portrays him as a workaholic who estranged his wife and his two children in favor of his ministry duties (to some extent) and his studies (constantly).
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