John A. Broadus


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John Albert Broadus

(b. Culpeper County, Va., Jan. 24, 1827; d. Louisville, Ky., Mar. 16, 1895). Scholar, teacher, preacher, and denominational leader. The fourth child of Major Edmund and Nancy (Sims) Broadus, he came into a home which, though not wealthy, was distinguished by intelligence, culture, and piety. When he was about 16, he was converted. His early education had been at home and in a private school. From 1844 to 1846 he taught in a small school and engaged in disciplined independent study. In the fall of 1846 Broadus entered the University of Virginia to prepare for the ministry, receiving the M.A. degree in 1850. During the next year he taught in a private school in Fluvanna County, Va., preached in small country churches, and diligently studied church history, theology, sermons, and the Bible. During this year two notable events occurred-his ordination, Aug. 12, 1850, and on Nov. 13, 1850, his marriage to Maria Harrison, a daughter of Gessner Harrison (1807-62), professor of ancient languages at the University of Virginia.

Calls of various kinds came to the young teacher, and he finally accepted the post as tutor in Latin and Greek at his alma mater and pastor of the Baptist church at Charlottesville. After one year he resigned his teaching position in order to devote full time to his pastorate. This he did with the exception of two years when he was given a leave of absence to serve as chaplain at the University of Virginia.

In 1858 Broadus was asked to become a member of the faculty of the new Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though he had a part in planning the institution, he declined the offer because of his attachment to preaching and pastoral work. After months of struggling with the decision, he agreed to become a member of the first faculty when the seminary opened in Greenville, S. C., in 1859. For the next 36 years he was professor of New Testament interpretation and homiletics, and his life was inextricably bound to the school.

While the seminary was closed during the Civil War, Broadus preached in small churches and spent some time as chaplain in Lee's army in northern Virginia. When the seminary reopened in 1865, it struggled for existence and remained open largely because of the heroic efforts of Broadus and James Petigru Boyce (1827-88). However, during this period of stress and strain, Broadus did some of his best work. In 1870 he published On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, a book which has become a classic in its field. Boradus received nationwide recognition as a preacher and teacher and was offered many influential pastorates, professorships, and other positions.

The last years of Broadus' life brought increasing recognition. He published the following works: Lectures on the History of Preaching(1876, revised, 1896); Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (1886); Sermons and Addresses (1886); Jesus of Nazareth (1890); Memoir of James Petigru Boyce (1893); Harmony of the Gospels (1893); twenty or more pamphlets, tracts, etc.; and many periodical articles. In 1889 he gave the Yale Lectures on Preaching and is the only Southern Baptist ever to be accorded this honor. He died Mar. 16, 1895, almost at the zenith of his fame, and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky.

Biographical Sources:
Robertson, A. T. Life and letters of John Albert Broadus, 1901.
Bogard, Ben Marquis. Pillars of orthodoxy, 1900.
"John A. Broadus" Shapers of Southern Baptist Heritage - Southern Baptist Historical Society.

Archival sources in Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
Broadus, John A. Collection. MF 1308.
Broadus, John Albert. Addresses, essay, lectures. MF 5899.
Broadus, John Albert. Daybook, 1857-1894. MF 1308-1.
Compere, Ebenezer Lee. Papers, 1852-1945. AR. 2.

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