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Bruce Harris

(New Zealand & Balliol 1946) (07 March 1921 - 30 July 2022)

Bruce was was educated at Devonport School (1926);  Auckland Grammar School (Prefect and Dux, 1938; prizes for English and Latin). He had learned to read at home, with his parents teaching him phonetically, and absorbed a love for books and history. The family moved regularly, as was the wont with teaching appointments in those days. From 1929-1932 the growing family struggled through repeated salary cuts (applied across the board by the state authority), developing a sense of forced self-reliance. Holidays were spent at the Beach at Manley, where the family had a holiday house. The family attended the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle,  and Christian conventions where, in 1930, Bruce responded to an invitation to accept Christ as saviour. He early shone as a Sunday School scholar and boy soprano. This academic capacity showed through in his classes at Auckland Grammar, where he considered the school 'blessed with really good masters'. Ironically, he did no history at Auckland Grammar, as he was a good student,and history was considered something for students who were no good at Science. [Professing History 1990]

In 1939, the year World War II broke out, Bruce matriculated to Auckland University College (Junior Rugby Team 1941) on scholarships (examination first in English, third in Latin and second overall). Despite his father's wish that he take mathematics (at the time Les was posted to the District High School, Ruawai), Bruce majored in Greek (with units in English and Philosophy) instead, at the insistence of the Classics Professor, E. M. Blaiklock.  'It was a very seminal time, really, thinking of the world events then. I can remember sitting in classrooms, when we were supposed to be listening to the lecturer, and looking at the newspapers under the desks.'  (Professing History, 1990).  The parallels between the rampaging of Phillip of Macedon through Greece, and the figure of Hitler rampaging through Europe, were not lost on our lecturer, who was Professor Blaiklock, to whom I owe a lot as a student and as a colleague for a long time.' [Professing History 1990] The Classics gave him a sense of history through Demosthenes and Thucydides. Furthermore, he entered university just as the question about the historicity of the New Testament documents was being taken up by evangelical scholars in the UK and Germany.  Harris' future colleagues Edward Musgrave Blaiklock (1903-1978) and Herbert Ralph Minn (1908-1996) were significant influences on students in the Evangelical Union, bringing to bear contemporary scholarship based on papyri to the study of New Testament Greek in ways which increased their historical interest. (Blaiklock had been influenced by the Scot W.M. Ramsay and the German scholar G. A. Deissmann, in particular the latter's Light from the Ancient East.

Read the full obituary here.