William Mitchell Ramsay

Last updated
Sir William M. Ramsay Sir William M. Ramsay.jpg
Sir William M. Ramsay

Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, FBA (15 March 1851 20 April 1939) was a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading scholar in the study of the New Testament.

Fellow of the British Academy award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences

Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:

  1. Fellows, for scholars resident in the United Kingdom
  2. Corresponding Fellows, for scholars not resident in the UK
  3. Honorary Fellows, an honorary academic title
New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.

Contents

Ramsay was educated in the Tübingen school of thought (founded by F. C. Baur) which doubted the reliability of the New Testament, but his extensive archaeological and historical studies convinced him of its historical accuracy. [1] From the post of Professor of Classical Art and Architecture at Oxford, he was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity (the Latin Professorship) at Aberdeen.

Ferdinand Christian Baur German theologian

Ferdinand Christian Baur was a German Protestant theologian and founder and leader of the (new) Tübingen School of theology. Following Hegel's theory of dialectic, Baur argued that second century Christianity represented the synthesis of two opposing theses: Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity. This and the rest of Baur's work had a profound impact upon higher criticism of biblical and related texts.

The Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art is a chair at the University of Oxford, England. It is associated with Lincoln College, Oxford.

The Regius Professorship of Humanity, formerly the Regius Professorship of Classics, is a Regius Chair in classics at the University of Aberdeen.

Knighted in 1906 to mark his distinguished service to the world of scholarship, Ramsay also gained three honorary fellowships from Oxford colleges, nine honorary doctorates from British, Continental and North American universities and became an honorary member of almost every association devoted to archaeology and historical research. He was one of the original members of the British Academy, was awarded the Gold Medal of Pope Leo XIII in 1893 and the Victorian Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1906.

Life

He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest son of a third-generation lawyer, Thomas Ramsay and his wife Jane Mitchell, daughter of William Mitchell. His father died when he was six years old, and the family moved from the city to the family home in the country district near Alloa. The help of his older brother and his maternal uncle, Andrew Mitchell of Alloa, made it possible for him to have an education at the Gymnasium in Old Aberdeen. [2]

William Mitchell was a Scottish entrepreneur. He was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, the second son of Alexander Mitchell and Janet Barrowman.

Alloa town in Clackmannanshire, Scotland

Alloa is a town in Clackmannanshire in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. It is on the north bank of the Forth at the spot where some say it ceases to be the River Forth and becomes the Firth of Forth. Geographically, Alloa is south of the Ochil Hills, 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east of Stirling and 7.9 miles (12.7 km) north of Falkirk; by water Alloa is 25 miles (40 km) from Granton.

Old Aberdeen human settlement in United Kingdom

Old Aberdeen is part of the city of Aberdeen in Scotland. Old Aberdeen was originally a separate burgh, which was erected into a burgh of barony on 26 December 1489. It was incorporated into adjacent Aberdeen by Act of Parliament in 1891. It retains the status of a community council area.

Ramsay studied at the University of Aberdeen, where he achieved high distinction and later became Professor of Humanity. He won a scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class in classical moderations (1874) and in literae humaniores (1876). He also studied Sanskrit under scholar Theodor Benfey at Göttingen.

University of Aberdeen university in Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The University of Aberdeen is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen and Chancellor of Scotland, petitioned Pope Alexander VI on behalf of James IV, King of Scots to establish King's College, making it Scotland's third-oldest university and the fifth-oldest in the English-speaking world. Today, Aberdeen is consistently ranked among the top 200 universities in the world and is ranked within the top 30 universities in the United Kingdom. In the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, Aberdeen was ranked 31st in the world for impact on society. Aberdeen was also named the 2019 Scottish University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Literae humaniores, nicknamed greats, is an undergraduate course focused on classics at the University of Oxford and some other universities. The Latin name means literally "more human literature" and was in contrast to the other main field of study when the university began, i.e. res divinae, also known as theology. Lit. hum. is concerned with human learning, and lit. div. with learning that came from God. In its early days, it encompassed mathematics and natural sciences as well. It is an archetypal humanities course.

Sanskrit language of ancient Indian subcontinent

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

In 1880 Ramsay received an Oxford studentship for travel and research in Greece. At Smyrna, he met Sir C. W. Wilson, then British consul-general in Anatolia, who advised him on inland areas suitable for exploration. Ramsay and Wilson made two long journeys during 1881-1882.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a sovereign state located in Southern and Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

He traveled widely in Asia Minor and rapidly became the recognized authority on all matters relating to the districts associated with St Paul's missionary journeys and on Christianity in the early Roman Empire. Greece and Turkey remained the focus of Ramsay's research for the remainder of his academic career. In 1883, he discovered the world's oldest complete piece of music, the Seikilos epitaph. He was known for his expertise in the historic geography and topography of Asia Minor and of its political, social, cultural, and religious history. He was Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, in 1882.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Seikilos epitaph

The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The epitaph has been variously dated, but seems to be either from the 1st or the 2nd century AD. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone from the Hellenistic town Tralles near present-day Aydın, Turkey, not far from Ephesus. It is a Hellenistic Ionic song in either the Phrygian octave species or Iastian tonos. While older music with notation exists, all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph is unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition.

From 1885 to 1886 Ramsay held the newly created Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford and became a fellow of Lincoln College (honorary fellow 1898). In 1886 Ramsay was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. He remained affiliated with Aberdeen until his retirement in 1911.

From 1880 onwards he received the honorary degrees of D.C.L. Oxford, LL.D. St Andrews and Glasgow, and D.D. Edinburgh. In 1906, Ramsay was knighted for his scholarly achievements on the 400th anniversary of the founding of the University of Aberdeen. He was elected a member of learned societies in Europe and America and was awarded medals by the Royal Geographical Society and the University of Pennsylvania.[ citation needed ]

In 1919 Ramsay served as president of the Geographical Association.[ citation needed ]

Family

His wife, Lady Ramsay, granddaughter of Dr Andrew Marshall of Kirkintilloch, accompanied him in many of his journeys and is the author of Everyday Life in Turkey (1897) and The Romance of Elisavet (1899). He was a grandson of entrepreneur William Mitchell (1781–1854). Other relatives include Mary Ramsay and Agnis Margaret Ramsay who were responsible for contributing several photographs and illustrations in his work on The Letters to the Seven Churches.

Contribution to biblical studies

Ramsay first went to Asia Minor, many of the cities mentioned in the Book of Acts had no definite location. Later in life he concluded: '"Further study … showed that the book could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement" (The Bearing of Recent Discovery, p. 85). On page 89 of the same book, Ramsay accounted, "You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian's". On the authorship of the Pauline epistles he concluded that all thirteen New Testament letters ostensibly written by Paul were authentic.[ citation needed ]

Publications

See also

Related Research Articles

Epistle to the Galatians book of the Bible

The Epistle to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul the Apostle to a number of Early Christian communities in Galatia. Scholars have suggested that this is either the Roman province of Galatia in southern Anatolia, or a large region defined by an ethnic group of Celtic people in central Anatolia.

Galatia area in the highlands of central Anatolia

Galatia was an ancient area in the highlands of central Anatolia, roughly corresponding to the provinces of Ankara, Çorum, and Yozgat, in modern Turkey. Galatia was named after the Gauls from Thrace, who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of the East, Roman writers calling its inhabitants Galli.

Isauria

Isauria, in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkır and its surroundings in the Konya Province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. In its coastal extension it bordered on Cilicia.

Antioch of Pisidia ancient town in Pisidia, Asia Minor, now Turkey

Antioch in Pisidia – alternatively Antiochia in Pisidia or Pisidian Antioch and in Roman Empire, Latin: Antiochia Caesareia or Antiochia Colonia Caesarea – is a city in the Turkish Lakes Region, which is at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions, and formerly on the border of Pisidia and Phrygia, hence also known as Antiochia in Phrygia. The site lies approximately 1 km northeast of Yalvaç, the modern town of Isparta Province. The city is on a hill with its highest point of 1236 m in the north.

Asia (Roman province) Roman province

The Roman province of Asia or Asiana, in Byzantine times called Phrygia, was an administrative unit added to the late Republic. It was a Senatorial province governed by a proconsul. The arrangement was unchanged in the reorganization of the Roman Empire in 211.

Lystra Place in Central Anatolia, Turkey

Lystra was a city in central Anatolia, now part of present-day Turkey. It is mentioned five times in the New Testament. Lystra was visited several times by the Paul the Apostle, along with Barnabas or Silas. There Paul met a young disciple, Timothy. Lystra was included by various authors in ancient Lycaonia, Isauria, or Galatia.

Lycaonia

Lycaonia was a large region in the interior of Asia Minor, north of the Taurus Mountains. It was bounded on the east by Cappadocia, on the north by Galatia, on the west by Phrygia and Pisidia, while to the south it extended to the chain of Mount Taurus, where it bordered on the country popularly called in earlier times Cilicia and in the Byzantine period Isauria; but its boundaries varied greatly at different times. The name is not found in Herodotus, but Lycaonia is mentioned by Xenophon as traversed by Cyrus the Younger on his march through Asia. That author describes Iconium as the last city of Phrygia; and in Acts 14:6 Paul, after leaving Iconium, crossed the frontier and came to Lystra in Lycaonia. Ptolemy, on the other hand, includes Lycaonia as a part of the province of Cappadocia, with which it was associated by the Romans for administrative purposes; but the two countries are clearly distinguished both by Strabo and Xenophon and by authorities generally.

Sozopolis in Pisidia, which had been called Apollonia (Ἀπολλωνία) and Apollonias (Ἀπολλωνίας) during Seleucid times, was a town in the former Roman province of Pisidia, and is not to be confused with the Thracian Sozopolis in Haemimonto in present-day Bulgaria.

Apamea (Phrygia)

Apamea Cibotus, Apamea ad Maeandrum, Apamea or Apameia was an ancient city in Anatolia founded in the 3rd century BC by Antiochus I Soter, who named it after his mother Apama. It was in Hellenistic Phrygia, but became part of the Roman province of Pisidia. It was near, but on lower ground than, Celaenae (Kelainai).

Tripolis on the Meander ancient city

Tripolis on the Meander – also Neapolis, Apollonia, and Antoniopolis – was an ancient city on the borders of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia, on the northern bank of the upper course of the Maeander, and on the road leading from Sardes by Philadelphia to Laodicea ad Lycum. It was situated 20 km to the northwest of Hierapolis.

Tiberiopolis

Tiberiopolis was a town in the Roman province of Phrygia Pacatiana, mentioned by Ptolemy, Socrates of Constantinople and Hierocles. At various times, it was considered as part of Phrygia, Isauria, and the late Roman province of Pisidia.

Cotenna or Kotenna was a city in the Roman province of Pamphylia I in Asia Minor. It corresponds to modern Gödene, near Konya, Turkey.

Cilicia (Roman province) Roman province

Cilicia was an early Roman province, located on what is today the southern (Mediterranean) coast of Turkey. Cilicia was annexed to the Roman Republic in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence in the east, after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It was subdivided by Diocletian in around 297, and it remained under Roman rule for several centuries, until falling to the Islamic conquests.

Confession inscriptions of Lydia and Phrygia are Roman-era Koine Greek religious steles from these historical regions of Anatolia, dating mostly to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Myrica or Myrika, also called Myrikion and Therma, was a city and bishopric in Galatia Salutaris, known for its hot springs.

Galatians (people) people of Galatia

The Galatians were a Gallic(Celtic) people of the Hellenistic period that dwelt mainly in the north central regions of Asia Minor or Anatolia, in what was known as Galatia, in today's Turkey. In their origin they were a part of the great migration which invaded Macedon, led by Brennus. The originals who settled in Galatia came through Thrace under the leadership of Leotarios and Leonnorios c. 278 BC. They consisted mainly of three tribes, the Tectosages, the Trocmii, and the Tolistobogii, but there were also other minor tribes. They spoke a Celtic language, the Galatian language, which is sparsely attested.

Acts 14

Acts 14 is the fourteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas to Phrygia and Lycaonia. The book containing this chapter is anonymous but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.

Apollonos Hieron Place

Apollonos Hieron was an ancient city of Lydia.

Justinianopolis (Galatia)

Justinianopolis was a Roman and Byzantine era city and ancient Bishopric in Galatia. It has been identified with modern Sivrihisar, Eskişehir Province Central Anatolia, Turkey. It was one of several Ancient sites renamed in late Antiquity after Byzantine emperor Justinian I.

Sir William Moir Calder, FBA (1881–1960) was a Scottish archaeologist, epigraphist classicist, and academic. He was Hulme Professor of Greek at the University of Manchester from 1913 to 1930, and Professor of Greek at the University of Edinburgh from 1930 to 1951.

References

  1. "I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without any prejudice in favour of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader [i.e., the reliability of the book of Acts]. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tübingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvellous truth. In fact, beginning with the fixed idea that the work was essentially a second-century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first-century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations." Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 1904, Putnam and Sons, p.8.
  2. Lock, Peter W. "Ramsay, Sir William Mitchell". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35664.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. "Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?". ccel.org.
  4. "Philologos - The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia by W.M. Ramsay". philologos.org.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to William Mitchell Ramsay at Wikimedia Commons